#093 The Homeschoolers Guide to Standardized Testing: AP, PSAT, ACT, SAT, and CLT with Leia LeMaster Horton Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:52

Standardized testing is usually stressful for all students. But when your student is homeschooled, the what, where, when, and how is more complicated, leaving families feeling overwhelmed and confused. My friend, Leah lamaster Horton is an 18 year veteran homeschooler of her own three children, and she supports all students in becoming prepared and confident test takers. She’s joining us to help clarify the path. So your homeschool student can maximize scores on the right test, and not be at risk for missing out on opportunities or scholarships. Her own three children earned full tuition scholarship, saving her family over $300,000 on college, and she wants the same for yours. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Leo, welcome. Thank you. How are you doing today? Lisa? Great. It’s so good. I think I’ve seen you like three times this week. So what a treat. You are the right person for us to talk about this with and let me just say amazing saving that amount of money on college for your own three.


Leia LeMaster Horton  02:15

Thank you. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle when it comes to earning full tuition scholarships and private merit based scholarships. But it’s certainly worth the effort.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:29

Yeah, and so we’re gonna do a deep dive today on one of those pieces to the puzzle, which is testing. So I was thinking about, you know, I’m just gonna say I want to talk about AP PSAT, SATs AC T, and there’s a new test on the horizon, which we’ll tell them about at the end. That’s very homeschooler friendly. So as I was thinking about that, I thought, You know what, let’s start with a P, because really, for most students, that could be the earliest exam that they might encounter, right? If you’ve got an academically accelerated ninth grader, I mean, they, they may want to sit for an AP test. So let’s talk about AP classes and testing for student homeschooled students that I’m going to just let you kind of take it away.


Leia LeMaster Horton  03:21

Okay, well, first, I want to start off by letting the homeschool families or remind them, they may already know this, that your child does not have to take the course, the AP course, to take the AP exam, you are more than welcome to educate your child on the content, right? Because really, what matters is that score getting an AP score of four or five on the exam. So that’s the main thing that I have found out through the years that a lot of homeschool families think that you have to take the AP course No, you don’t, you’re more than welcome to do so you can potentially sign up to take an AP course at a public school or a private school in your area. But really what it comes down to is getting the scores. Obviously your transcript will not be able to say that it’s an AP course. Right, which certainly is advantageous, right. As for the colleges, but they’re really more concerned about Does your child know the content? Right. And that is what the score demonstrates?


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:28

Well, and as as the kids are going in filling out their common app application for colleges, that testing section allows while yes, they’re gonna see your transcript and all the classes but there’s a spot to put down. I took this exam. This is a score I got and here’s the exams I’m going to take in the spring of my senior year. So yeah, I mean, there’s a way to communicate it, right.


Leia LeMaster Horton  04:52

Yes, absolutely. And so, but it’s, it’s all about that score, right. And there’s a lot of a On even scholarship applications where they will be asking you for your AP score, they don’t really care as much about the courses much as the score.


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:10

Absolutely. So a public school student there, they enroll, I mean, that path is really easy. They enroll in, you know, AP Spanish, and they, their school host, an AP Spanish exam and the spring of that school year. So what does that look like for a homeschooler?


Leia LeMaster Horton  05:30

Well, I feel like these days, a lot of home schoolers are choosing to do dual enrollment over APD, because of the fact that they don’t want to have their homeschool student in the class. Right. So they feel more confident with having their student do a dual enrollment. And that works to as far as you know, being looking great for colleges, that they have dual enrollment, you also get the benefit of receiving those credits. Right. So the student is a dual enrollment means that the student is receiving credit for that class in high school. So it can be written on their transcript in high school, they’re also receiving college credit, right, so students that have dual enrollment, hours, and all three of mine had that we did both AP and dual enrollment. But they can go off to college with maybe nine to up to maybe 2829 credit hours, you don’t really want to have over 30 credit hours going into college because then you won’t be seen as a incoming freshman for a lot of schools now check with the college’s find out what their rules are. But if they have too many college credits going in, they won’t be seen as a freshman, therefore, they won’t be able to receive the highest financial aid package packages that are for those incoming for your students,


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:57

right only the merit scholarships that are only available to first year freshmen. So what I really like is I heard you had down that path of like dual enrollment courses are a great way to academically prepared to learn the material. Because if you’re going to sit for the test, you have to learn the material, but you don’t have to earn it through an AP class, you might be earning it through the to it through a dual enrollment course or even other ways. You know, I have I’m going to link to this in the show notes we had a guest on about a year ago. Modern states has classes college level classes that they offer, and it can prepare for free and online and it can prepare students for both the AP exams and the CLEP exams. Oftentimes CLEP exams are even easier to earn the college credit. So I’ll link to that one in the show notes. But what I heard is, hey, you can you can learn that academic content anywhere, but you’re gonna apply it through testing. So will they just take the test at their local high school? Or how does that work?


Leia LeMaster Horton  08:05

Absolutely, yes. So they’re more than welcome to learn the content, right, just, but they can’t call it an AP course on their transcript, because the teacher has to be AP certified. So just want to be clear that the homeschool mom is not able to refer to that class as an AP class. However, they can teach the material, right, and then have their child take the AP exam. And then the AP score. If it’s a four or five, right, is what they can showcase on that transcript. But yes, as far as where to take it, I would first contact the their local public schools in their county, and see if that’s an option. They can also look into the private schools and see if they could take the AP exam there as well.


Lisa Marker Robbins  08:53

So you’re really looking for a school in your area that is going to be open to homeschooled students, or maybe even private school students who their school doesn’t host that exam. So that you can go ahead and sit for the exam. Okay, great advice. So next up, P S A T. So some I know some home schoolers think that this one is not worth it. If they’re not, because it’s not required by the colleges, colleges are not going to say this score. Do what’s your opinion, do you think that the PSAT test, which commonly 10th and 11th graders would take? Is it worth it to try to figure out the PSAT test for a homeschool family?


Leia LeMaster Horton  09:42

Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of it. Not only does it help the student practice and be have some experience with the test taking, if there’s a child’s scores high they could potentially become a national merit scholar. That score is only What they take fall of junior year, so in the mid October of junior year is when the score counts towards becoming a national merit scholar, which by the way, there’s three levels of that it’s National Merit finalist, which is about the top less than top 1% in the nation. National Merit, semifinalist and National Merit Commended all three of those are National Merit Scholars, there are some colleges that are actually giving not only scholarship dollars, right coming National Merit finalist, you’re going to be receiving the $2,500 scholarship from college board. But other schools will sometimes give you scholarship dollars for being a national merit scholar. But above and beyond that, I do believe that the rigor of preparing for the PSAT helps the student be ready. So ideally, I say start preparing spring semester of 10th grade or the summer between 10th and 11th grade to prepare for the exam so that they’re taking both the PSAT mid October as well as the LSAT or ACP right. Because when you’re preparing for one, you’re preparing for the other. And I think it’s very beneficial to get those scores on the books that October of junior year. And they’re primed and ready to take both of those exams. So that is why we normally suggest and I coach both exams, but I do usually suggest preparing for the LSAT, because it’s the same skills on the PSAT is just shorter. It’s not any easier. It’s just shorter. Yeah.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:47

So okay, I want to backup to a couple things. One, you were talking about national merit, and they only the front door, the door that has to magically open for any of those opportunities is you have to take the PSAT and October of your junior year, which that’s, you know, one big change there is it used to be a specific national test date. Now it could be the schools that are hosting the PSAT can choose any date in the month of October to actually give that test. But it only counts for your junior year, I was going to tell you about a student of mine, she was at my launch Career Clarity course that I offer to help students with the right college major and career to then kind of reverse engineer where where to go to college. And the mom reached out to me actually, just this week, sent me a message and said, I just this girl had been shooting for the stars on many things, and ultimately enrolled at the University of Central Florida, because or Central or South Florida. Now I forget. But it’s one of those do but the daughter actually made $2,400 This semester, she’s a first time freshman, they actually pay are paying her to go to college, because they have no expenses because of her National Merit Award. So you’re Yeah, it’s just a very practical example of somebody who’s followed that path.


Leia LeMaster Horton  13:11

It is and I helped students get a perfect score on their PSAT. It just takes that time and effort go putting into preparing for it. So I do recommend taking it for practice ninth and 10th grade, knowing that hey, 11th grades when it really counts, right? And then that fall of 11th grade is the ideal time to get the scores on the books, both the PSAP right and the fit. So keep in mind the question really isn’t when to start test prep. The question is when should your student reach their highest score ever on both of those exams PSAT and SAP slash ACD. And that is October of their junior year?


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:55

Well, in their you know, the junior year is so busy. Whether you’re a homeschool family, public school, private school, you’re doing college visits, you are have a heavy academic load students are involved in extracurriculars. And so I agree with you like if they can get it off their books, right by October of the junior year, what a gift to free up all that extra time to work on the many other things.


Leia LeMaster Horton  14:23

Now, let the reason I say that too, just knowing that that should be the goal is even if they don’t reach their highest score by that October, right or even the rest of the semester of their junior year, they still have spring semester of junior year to reach their highest score ever. Because truthfully, when students are going into 12th grade, they don’t need testing and scores on their back. Right? They they have enough to be thinking about where do they want to go off to college and what do they want to study and do with their life? Right? So that’s why it’s better timing wise to get all this testing done right now. their junior year.


Lisa Marker Robbins  15:01

And just as early as possible, I mean, it creates ease in the calendar and in your family. If you get it out of the way as soon as possible October would be great. But if you don’t hit it October, you have enough time plenty more attempts on the SATs and the AC t. So on the PSAT test is given in October, when and how do students who are homeschooled register for that?


Leia LeMaster Horton  15:28

Okay, same thing, they do need to reach out to the public schools in their area to see if they can take the PSAT there. If they hear no, then they should reach out to the private schools in their area because it is the homeschool family that’s trying to find a seat for their child. If they still here know that my advice is to open up that circle go outside your county, some homeschool families have actually had to travel that I am telling you it is worth the effort to find a location to take that exam, right. If even after opening it up and looking even further outside where you live, then I do recommend touching base with HSL da, the Home School Legal Defense, they can partner with you and help you find a place for your homeschool family to take the PSAT


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:17

because they know the rights of the homeschool family, your educational rights, and they can assist in that that’s a great piece of advice. I was not aware of that now. PSAT and AP tests are given at the school during the school day. Occasionally the PSAT is on a Saturday, but at most schools are given during the school day. So those doors open up a little bit easier to get a seat for the SATs or the AC T. You know, there’s a lot of test optional schools out there that colleges out there these days, do you recommend that homeschool students still take the SATs and AC T?


Leia LeMaster Horton  17:00

I do I really do. And it’s not just for college admittance, right, because we do have data that came out in the 2022 cycle that students are over 200% more likely to get accepted if they turned in scores. So it is just it is more than just Yes, you’re gonna get accepted more if you had scores. But it’s also about the fact that you’re going to get the higher financial aid package. So I’m going to use a private Christian school as an example, is covenant college. I know a lot about it. My husband was the director of marketing for four years. And we lived right across the street. So I know a lot about their admissions process. And even though they were test, optional for admittance, and they are a private school is very expensive. They’re about $48,000. So if you’re going to go to a private school, you certainly want to be able to be in the running for those top financial aid packages. And this school covenant College offers 12 full tuition scholarships per year for a small college that’s actually awesome, right that they have a lot Yeah, honors program, that they do giveaways for six boys, six girls, that full tuition scholarship for all four years. So this is how it works. To be able to interview for the full tuition scholarship, you have to be invited to scholarship weekend, right? To be invited to scholarship weekend, you have to have an LSAT score of a 1320 or higher, or an AC t score of the 29 or higher. So in essence, if you’re gonna go to a private school, you really do need those test scores, because they give you opportunities to go for those honors programs, not only the full tuition scholarships, but also to be able to compete and potentially interview for the higher financial aid packages and president’s awards and all of that. And so what we found is it certainly was worth our time and effort to get those scores as a homeschool family, but it wasn’t just to help my children get accepted to their college of choice. It helped them be able to have the scores needed to go after merit based scholarships. There’s a lot more merit based scholarships than there are private scholarships, right? I mean, there are a lot more private merit based scholarships than financial needs scholarships, and merit starts with GPA and test scores. So that’s why it’s worth your effort to get the scores, both for admittance, right, both for being able to go after those honors programs, which a lot of schools have, right, whether it’s US state schools, or private schools like Gordon College in Boston or Wheaton or or covenant college, right, whether you’re looking for a state school or a private school, you know, it is certainly beneficial and worth their time and effort to go after Getting the scores. But I did want to also mention that as far as how to sign up for them, it is easier because easier than getting that AAPC or the PSA TC because you can create an account dashboard for AC T or College Board college boards, the organization that writes the LSAT test. And you can choose what schools usually a public school that’s opened their doors and offer a certain number of seats. So you get to choose within a 10 mile 20 mile 30 mile radius of what school and so it is much much easier to locate a seat for the PSAT or AC T map


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:39

that barrier of oh, I’ve if feels like I need to be a student’s removed because you can go anywhere. I’ve actually no kids who they are, they were preparing, and then the family realize, Oh my gosh, we’re going to be on a town that weekend. And they might live here in Cincinnati where I live, and then they end up testing down in Florida. And that’s not a problem for anybody, you can test anywhere that has an open seat, but register to test early. Well, before we wrap it up. There’s a new test that’s out there. And I’m just gonna admit, I know very little about this. I know, it’s becoming quite popular in with home schoolers and private schools, the CLT test or that classical learning test. Tell us a little bit about this new test. Is it like similar to the AC trs 80? When do you take it? Where do you take it give us the 411 on that test?


Leia LeMaster Horton  21:38

Absolutely. Well, the CLT test came out in 2015 stands for the classic learning test. And it was kind of funny because everybody thought these college entrance exams were going away. No, no, no, there’s no one on the block, right. But the classic learning test, actually is it is developing following with homeschoolers and those in private school, especially in the state of Florida, because in Florida, they do have the bright future Scholarship, which allows families to get the full tuition for the 39 colleges and universities in the state for free, right full tuition for free if they have a qualifying score on the CLT SAP or ACD. So the CLT is it my definition is much better quality literature. So you know, when I’ve done a deep dive into their curriculum and for preparing for this exam, what I noticed was that the you know, the English skills and the math skills very, very similar, except there’s more geometry on the CLT. But when it came to the texts that they used for the reading section, it’s going to be better quality. So classic literature. And that is pretty much my main difference. And as far as preparing for the exam, you know, it’s going to be that same amount of time and rigor which is normally about a four to five month journey for test prep. And as far as where to take it, you can take the CLT at home which is very different than the Allow. You can also take it at a proctored location. So there are set dates for a in school proctored location for the CLT exam, or the the CLT eight, nine and CLT 10, the CLT 10 SPIP, similar to the PSAT but is not connected with the National Merit Scholarship. Those can be proctored by the parents, but the actual CLT right, the one that is the college entrance exam, that a lot of private schools are now accepting that test can be administered at home. But it’s the you’re the parent is not the proctor it’s actually a scheduled date. And they have all kinds of procedures in place where the student is not allowed to move away and they are being proctored for that test. And it you know, just gives the homeschool family a little bit more freedom to know that they can schedule it and then their child can take it at home.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:24

And that does not have to be on a specific test date.


Leia LeMaster Horton  24:28

Yes, it does. It does.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:29

It still does. It can be at home but it has to be on one of their national test dates. And so you just I’m assuming you just like there’s the AC t.org lsat.org Is there a CL T website?


Leia LeMaster Horton  24:43

I don’t have that memorized but they can they can search for that class. You


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:47

know, I will look it up and put it in the show notes because it’s easy for us to Google that right after this episode. We finished recording. Okay, so the bottom line of what I heard As higher scores, open doors, and whether you’re public school, private school or homeschool, you should really use AP testing, PSAT. And it could be AC T s, a T, or CLT. Are our most colleges taking the CLT yet, or what have you found with that


Leia LeMaster Horton  25:24

a lot in Florida are, I think it’s growing in popularity. But actually, I haven’t seen a whole lot of state schools, except it gets a lot more private schools that are accepting the CLT. And what you just mentioned as far as just the homeschoolers, knowing that this is part of the process. And it’s because I have a lot of families that will contact me homeschool families, second semester, senior year. Let that sink in second semester, senior year, and it usually starts like this, Hey, we thought our child was going to get a sport scholarship or that they were going to do this or do that. But now we need scores, right? Yes, it is possible, right? And we can get them ready. But it really puts a lot more pressure on the student. That’s why it’s just better for the student to take that test anxiety off the plate, right by prepping early and getting it done by fall of junior year.


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:21

Amen and Amen. i You heard me I mean, I couldn’t help and I try not to talk over my guests. But as soon as you said, they call me second semester senior year I went, Oh, gosh. Like I had a little heart attack over here. Alia you have been wonderful if families, homeschool or other want to get in touch for test, prep help or get any of your other expertise. Where can they find you?


Leia LeMaster Horton  26:47

Just Horton test prep.com. Or they’re welcome to follow me on Instagram. It’s Lea lamaster Horton, because I do put out information for scholarship information both for high school students and college students. So they’re more than welcome to reach out that way. Or they can email me at info at Horton test. prep.com


Lisa Marker Robbins  27:09

Great. We’ll put all of those in the show notes. And it sounds like we’re gonna have to have you on the podcast again, and we’ll talk about scholarships. I’d love it. Okay, thanks, Leah. Put great information for homeschooled students and their parents. Lea gave a lot of great information on the what, who and how. And now it’s your turn for the where my college bound challenge this week is not specific to a particular test. But instead to start doing your homework on where your student would be welcome to take the AP exams, and the PSAT. I’d recommend starting with your public school district. And if you get a no reach out to private schools in your area, it’s important to solve for this piece before it’s time to register to test so you are not left scrambling and stressed out. If today’s episode was helpful to you please share with another homeschool family in keep in mind. My launch Career Clarity course serves many homeschool families and homeschool co ops who are working towards figuring out the right college major for their team. You can learn more at flourish coaching co.com forward slash video. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast where I help your family move from overwhelmed, confused to motivated, clear and confident about your team’s future.