Parents wonder when they should begin to look at colleges and begin to introduce their students to their next step in education. While Jr. High might be early to begin making plans, a student's Sophomore year is a good time to initiate the conversation. A good framework to begin the conversation is to ensure a clear path towards graduation from high school and support for the student to excel in their classes.
In addition to classwork, preparation for SAT and ACT tests are important. Hillcrest employs the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) for Junior students every October. This test serves as a preparation for the SAT and a first step to making students eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. Students who score in the top one-half of one percent for their state on the PSAT become National Merit semi-finalists. The award levels for National Merit Scholarships range from one-time awards of $1,000 to annual awards of $1,500 for up to four years.
Some question if the SAT and ACT tests are frivolous. They aren't. Almost every college in the USA uses one of these two tests as a factor in evaluating student applications. The time to begin taking these tests is during a student's Junior year. Preparation for these tests are available through community education programs and SAT and ACT test preparation books which give practice tests to students. For more information on these resources, please email Hillcrest's guidance counselor Ruth Juliot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) measures a students potential with regard to college-level work. It provides a measure of verbal and mathematical competence.
The American College Test (ACT) is an achievement test that measures what students already know as well as their ability to apply their knowledge. The ACT measures how students handle questions in English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Natural Sciences.
The ACT and SAT tests use percentile measures to show where students stand relative to all the other students across the nation who took the same test. Suppose a person scored in the 80th percentile in the ACT English section. That student's score indicates that 80% of the students who took the same test at the same time scored lower, only 20% scored better. This information can be helpful for colleges as they assess student profeciency in their applications. A student with an "A" average at a relatively weak high school might have earned "C"'s had they studied in a school with higher standards and better teachers. Standarized tests allow colleges to better assess students apart from looking at grades alone.
Understand that no test is perfect. A test cannot measure motivation, determination, commitment and willingness to work hard. Students shouldn't feel put in a box. God uses students according to their attitude and obedience, not aptitude and test scores.
The information in this article was provided by Ron Nash's book Summit Ministries Guide to Choosing a College
. It is a recommended guide for parents.