NMSQTs, SATs, CLEPs, ACTs, APs and AP Courses
The best way for a homewschooler or independent adult learner to achieve recognition from a college admission office for work done in ay course is to take a universally recognized and standardized test. There are several major types of tests, takien at different times, and for different purposes. Most are admnistered by the College Board organizaiton, (College Board Organization, but the ACT is administered by a different group.
- The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a standardized test taken in the junior year, a combination of the former "preliminary SAT" test and the former test used by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to determine scholarship distributions from their funds. It still serves this latter purpose, and in addition to the NMS funds, is used by many companies and scholarship organizations to determine worthy recipients. Like the general SAT examination, it contains a quantitative (mathematics) section, a verbal section, and a composition section, to parallel the SAT format adopted in 2005. Students achieving high scores on the examination advance to "finalist" status, and must then support their scores with essays and academic records to determine whether they qualify to receive scholarships administered by the NMS program.
- The SAT (originally Scholastic Aptitude Test, then Scholastic Assessment Test; now just SAT) is the general standardized test used for admissions ranking by colleges and universities. The test is primarily multiple choice, with four sections covering quantitative manipulations (mathematics) with a calculator, quantitatative thinking without a calculator, verbal skills (reading comprehension), and verbal skills (composition and language). Additional SAT "subject matter" tests examine students for high school level proficiency in specific subjects.
- The ACT (American College Testing) examination is a standardized test produced by the ACT group. It is currently offered as a computer-based test in most cases, with sections covering English language skills, mathematics, science reasoning, reading comprehension, and composition. Originally popular in the midwest, it has in the last ten years overtake the SAT as the most widely taken college entrance readiness examination. Most colleges and universities accept both the ACT and SAT scores, so students generally take one or the other.
- The AP examination provides colleges with a way of assessing whether students taking advanced high school courses have achieved the equivalent of a college-level education in a given subject. It expects that students will have pursued a rigorous academic program in high school as part of a formal program. While the AP exam is used primarily to confirm performance in an AP course, enrollment in an AP course is not required to take the exam.
- The CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) provides colleges with a standard examination for determining whether a student has college-level mastery of a particular subject. It allows self-taught learners and those who have achieved skills on the job to get credit for the subjects they have mastered, especially in non-traditional learning environments. The College Board association administers the subject examination, which usual covers a single semester's worth of subject matter. Questions are generally multiple choice, but may include numeric or short answer questions, and in some subjects like Literature, may also require essays. Colleges and universities are free to make whatever policies they like about accepting CLEP results, so you need to contact the colleges you are considering attending to determine whether taking the CLEP will help you gain college credit. However, successful CLEP performance may allow you to enter a community college or state university with advanced status and credits, saving you both time and money.
You will need to take the PSAT/NMSQT exam to qualify for many scholarship programs. You must take this exam in your junior year in high school.
You may take either the SAT or the ACT, depending on your level of preparation, your academic goals, and the policy of the colleges to which you may want to apply. In most cases, these exams are used as part of your college admission packet, and should be taken at the end of your Junior year or the beginning of your Senior year.
You may take either the AP or the CLEP to establish your mastery of a subject for college level credit.
The Moodle pages for your course will have specific information about this years' ACT, SAT subject, and AP examinations.
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Lessons [Enrolled Students]