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I have seen quite a few threads concerning prep, test taking etc. While I was looking through them, I realized that many of the students have taken these tests multiple times as practice.


I was wondering if everyone would share at what age they have had their dc begin doing this. Also, what type of prep you have done each time. Just general info, besides ages... self study, no study, tutor, class, for each time taken. Do you feel it has helped your dc? If you want to share anything else at all, I appreciate everyone's input, reasoning, and opinion on the subject. Just curious to see what other have done, and if they feel it was beneficial. I




1st time age blah, no study

2nd time age blah blah, self study books, practice tests

3rd time age blah, blah, blah, private tutor.





My oldest is 12, we are focusing on him learning general study skills for school. I hadn't even thought of the PSAT yet. Well, not in any kind of detail.





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I started both girls with the SAT in 8th grade. I used it as the required annual evaluation for the Florida requirements.


Some times we used the SAT prep book (they sell one on their site) sometimes we did not. The one they sell is well laid out and has a good section on how the test is structured and scored. I am sure there are plenty of good prep books out there.


SAT and ACT have different methodologies, scoring metrics and focus. I had each girl take the ACT once. They decided that they prefered the SAT.


Neither of my girls has ever been stressed about standardized tests. It does not cause angst and worry. Since they need to test each year anyway just did it through SAT.


Their scores steadily improved through exposure and continued academics.


PSAT is totally different it is not a prep test for the SAT. It has a different scoring metric. It is offered once a year (October), kids take it as a high school junior and it is the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship.


I know this is a longer response than you requested. :glare: sorry

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We do no standardized testing until 7th grade. (We have the option of a portfolio review to satisfy yearly homeschooling requirements.)

This is what my kids do each year from 7th grade:


7th grade: Take SAT cold. There is absolutely no pressure. We view it as a scrimmage. They do no prep.


8th grade: Review answers missed on 7th grade SAT (I order answer key from CB) before taking SAT again in 8th grade.


9th grade: Take PSAT "cold". Although by having two years of taking the SAT under their belt, it may not be considered "cold."


9th grade: Take ACT "cold". (I switch to the ACT in high school because with rare exception, you only have to submit highest ACT score to colleges. This is not always the case with the SAT.) I use the ACT score to satisfy yearly homeschooling requirements.


10th grade: Repeat 9th grade testing.


11th grade plans: Prep for both SAT/PSAT and ACT and hopefully be done forever.

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I skipped the PSAT with my oldest as I knew he wasn't National Merit caliber. In hindsight, I'd have had him take it for the practice in both 10th and 11th grades.


So, for me and my kids, my ideal is to start with the PSAT in 10th grade as a practice test. The only "study" is doing the practice test in the booklet they give you when you sign up.


Then, I'd follow it with the ACT in April or June of their 10th grade year - again - as a benchmark.


For junior year, they'll start studying using prep books in latter summer - doing a section (study or practice test section) about 3 times per week. By October they'll be doing one section per day (except Sundays). Then mine take the PSAT for real and the ACT (practice) that month.


Pending how they do, we'll aim for the SAT or ACT in spring of junior year. Study will be suspended until about a month before the test. Then they'll do a section per day for practice using different books than before to keep sections new. That score should be the one they use for college.


It worked VERY well for middle son. He scored 98th percentile on the PSAT and 99th percentile on the ACT (both junior tests, but spring was better than fall). He only missed NMSF due to using his watch for timing and not making sure it was calibrated to the school's clock (PSA - check if doing similar!). He didn't get to three questions on the first math section. If he had gotten even one of them correct, he'd have made the cutoff.


Youngest is probably not the caliber to make NMSF, but I still consider the PSAT a good standardized test practice. He took it this past October (results should come next week at school). I only expect him to score in the average range. But, next year should be better and now he knows just how much is expected. I think he can get merit aid from the ACT (or perhaps SAT if he's better at that test), but not [likely] the PSAT.

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You'll probably get more response on the High School Board.

Here's our quick stats. Both started prepping about 3 months before the first PSAT, one section + corrections per day.



PSAT - 11th

ACT twice, with prep (same score both times, mid-Jr year & early Sr year)


DS- (high achiever, Commended Student)

PSAT 10 & 11th

SAT - late Jr Yr

ACT five times, with prep (his middle test was his peak, surprisingly, mid-Jr year to mid Sr year).


In my opinion, homeschoolers especially benefit from test prep. Sometimes the low score received from the "no prep" strategy is very discouraging for future tests.

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