My oldest son will be in high school this coming fall! I can’t believe that it’s gone by so quickly; it seems like it was only a few months ago when we pulled him out of the public school after completion of the first grade, and brought him home to homeschool him. It was, by far, one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for our family. Hands down. I can’t believe we need to start thinking about college already!
With Christian getting up into the high school age group, I know that it’s not far off before we need to start thinking about college and college prep activities. I am happy to bring you a review of a website that I think we’ll enjoy utilizing as that time approaches. Barron’s Test Prep is a name well known in the college prep arena, and you may recognize it from the study books used by many to prepare for the college tests. The website is an updated version of those books, complete with practice exams, grading, and more!
I love that they give you the opportunity to take a practice exam before buying into the course; it really helps give you an idea of the materials that will be covered and whether your student is ready to start the college prep routine. (Personally, I think we have a little more to study in math before we are ready here.)
Each course features full length tests, targeted practice, test solutions and feedback, instant test scoring, up to college testing standards word lists, proven tactics for study and learning, and detailed reporting for you to track your student’s progress. The SAT, pSAT, and ACT tests are all available with a basic package for free that includes 100 practice questions and video solutions. The premium accounts cost $19.99 and are available for 6 months, and you get 2000 practice questions and video solutions, plus 6 full length tests and so much more!
The website also offers packages for GMAT and GRE tests, with premium packages on sale for $69 right now. I don’t know much about those tests, but they appear to be general admissions tests for colleges; I know that our local community college offers their own admissions test, which my husband had to take because he never took the SAT or any comparable test. These tests might be a great option for homeschoolers; I plan to look more closely at these tests to see if they may be more appropriate for our family than the SAT would be, because I hope to send our kids to the community college a little earlier than the average public school kiddo. Maybe these generalized tests could serve our needs better, but I will need to do some looking. There are free accounts available for these as well, so I’m sure we’ll be using those as the time draws nearer.
I decided to take some of the practice tests for the pSAT myself, to see exactly what the courses and tests involve. You can take a full length practice exam, with 5 questions for each of 4 sections, or you can take it section by section. The questions are asked one at a time. Students have the ability to skip a question, or answer it and mark it as needing to go back to it (review). There is a list on the left with all of the question numbers available as links, so your student can go back to any question at any time, and on this list can see where they may have marked a question as skipped or as needing review. If the questions have been answered, the dots next to them are green. If they have not been answered, they are marked red. If they have been marked as skipped or for review, they are noted with a yellow arrow instead of a dot.
At the end of the questions, it warns the student that this is all the questions and that clicking “Grade It” will end the test, and that no answers can be changed. My test results reminded me that this was only an example of how the program works, and if I only took one section I received a percentage grade instead of a point system like the regular exam. When you take the test with all sections, it grades you on a points system, but the warning exists to notify you that it’s not an accurate grade because it is still a sample.
After the actual grade screen, a student can click to review the answers. The screen scrolls down to reveal every question that was on the test, with a green check or a red “X” to show whether or not the student answered correctly. The question is written there and student’s answer is visible, along with the correct answer. You can click on each question for an explanation of the correct answer, whether the student got it correct or incorrect. I like this feature, because if a student just made a correct guess and wasn’t really sure why that was (after all) the right answer, it’s great to have that feedback.
All in all, I’m glad this website was brought to my attention because I know that it will be of great use to us as we approach the college prep years. I feel like it will help me, as the teacher, be aware of what subjects and areas my student(s) may have weaknesses as well as offering the opportunity to build up my student(s) in the areas where they are strong already. I hope some of you might find it useful as well!
Check it out and let me know your thoughts, especially those of you who are a little closer to the college prep time than we are such as already having your students taking these tests. What do you think?
*Disclosure statement: I have received monetary compensation for the writing and publishing of this article. That said, I would never recommend a product, service, or website that I did not fully believe to be beneficial to my readership. I have thoroughly checked out the websites and products listed, either have used them or will use them in the future, and believe them to be a reasonably beneficial service to my own family; thus, I am recommending them to you! Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or problems you may encounter due to any recommendation you’ve received from me or this website. Blessings!