High School Graduation Tests
These tests are national high school equivalency assessments. At the time a student passes the full battery of tests for the chosen assessment he/she receives a state-endorsed high school diploma, and is a fully-credentialed high school graduate. Which tests are available and the passing rates for each test vary by state.
As of January 1, 2014, the GED test has been revised and two other tests, HiSet and TASC, have been authorized for use in New Jersey (see document available from Dept of Education). In Pennsylvania, the new GED test is the only available high school equivalency test. These tests are not required for homeschoolers to be considered graduated from high school and are only required for college admissions by a small handful of schools.
HiSET is a new alternative to the traditional GED. HiSET has been designed around both the Common Core State Standards for high school and the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education. The HiSET test battery includes the following subject area tests: Language Arts--Writing, Language Arts--Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
TASC, the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, is a new alternative to the traditional GED. TASC measures students’ levels of achievement relative to that of graduating high school seniors, and career and college readiness, as outlined by the Common Core State Standards. The TASC test battery includes the following subject area tests: Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
GED, tests of General Educational Development, are designed to measure major academic skills and knowledge in core content areas that are learned during four years of high school. The GED test battery includes the following subject area tests: Reasoning through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies.
College Admissions Tests
The SAT is a measure of the critical thinking skills you'll need for academic success in college. The test is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. The SAT includes reading, writing and language, and mathematics tests; scores for each are reported separately, as well as combined: total, reading and writing, and math. SAT scores are required for admission to many, but not all, colleges and universities.
Practice Test: PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) measures skills in Reading, Writing and Math. Taken in October of junior year (or, the year before you plan to apply to college), a high score gives you a chance to enter National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs. This test is NOT required for college admission, but offers a good way to experience what it will be like to take a college admissions test. Many sophomores and some freshman take the PSAT for early practice. Homeschoolers register to take the test through their local high school. In late spring, or just after your local high school opens in September, ask the guidance office of your public high school if homeschoolers can take the PSAT at their school, and ask for the forms to register. If your public school does not allow homeschooler's to test, check with local private high schools. Be sure to use the NJ homeschooling code (993199) and not the school's code when registering. Be in touch with your PLC mentor if your high school does not allow homeschoolers to test there, or if you encounter any other issues with registering to take the test.
The ACT is designed to assess students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The test battery is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The optional Writing Test is a 30-minute essay test that measures students' writing skills in English. Reported scores include a composite score as well as a score for each skill area.
Practice Test: ACT Aspire is a computer-based, longitudinal assessment system that connects student growth and progress from the elementary grades through high school in the context of college and career readiness.
2015 article that compares the SAT and ACT
The SAT Subject Tests and optional SAT Essay section were discontinued in Jan 2021
Tests used for College Credit and/or Placement
AP, the Advanced Placement Program, is a collection of over 30 college-level courses in 22 subject areas, each with a corresponding AP exam that schools worldwide administer in May. AP Exams provide students with a standardized measure of what they’ve accomplished in the AP classroom. However, any student may register with his/her local public school to take an AP exam. Many homeschoolers have scored well on AP exams, having prepared for the exam through independent study or after completing 1 or more community college courses. Homeschoolers register to take the test at a school; note that most schools do not offer all of the available tests and you can shop around the local schools to find one that will allow a homeschooler to take a test at their school. Colleges and universities do NOT require AP exams, but rather grant students credit, placement, or both for qualifying AP Exam grades.
CLEP, College-Level Examination Program, includes over 30 exams covering material taught in courses that most students take as requirements in the first two years of college. CLEP was originally designed for adults entering or re-entering college so that they could get credit for life experience. Today, students of any age take the CLEP exams, including many homeschoolers. There are 2,900 colleges that grant credit and/or advanced standing for CLEP exams. Each participating college determines the required score for earning CLEP credit. Many homeschooled students take CLEP exams to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular subject and receive credit for required coursework when they enter college.
Test Preparation Resources
SAT: Khan Academy offers an individualized and interactive test prep program that's officially sanctioned by the College Board (creators of the SAT).
GED and HiSet: Peterson’s Test and Career Prep (available through many public libraries via their online resources).