PSAT®, AP®, and SAT®

Everything You Need to Know About These All-Important Tests

Testing for College-Bound High School Students

Three national tests—the ACT, SAT, or PSAT—are commonly taken in the junior or senior years by students who are considering attending a college or university.

A student who takes the ACT, SAT, or PSAT test may use the test score in lieu of a standardized achievement test score if it is equal to the fourth stanine or 23 percentile. A parent may submit the results of an ACT, SAT, or PSAT test administered at any time during the school year.

Although the ACT, SAT, and PSAT report may not provide stanine scores, percentile scores are usually reported. After HEAV’s communication with  the Virginia Department of Education, the VDOE clarified that students with a composite score at or above the 23rd percentile on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT will meet the requirement for academic achievement under the homeschool statute §-254.1.

PSAT/NMSQT ® Exam Registration*

Public schools are required to notify homeschoolers about the availability of the PSAT/NMSQT exam. They are also required to administer the test to homeschool students who desire to take it. §22.1-254.1(F)

The PSAT/NMSQT and the PSAT 10 are the same tests, but they are offered at different times of the year. They share similar benefits:

    • Both are good practice tests for the SAT because they test the same skills and knowledge as the SAT.
    • Each score report suggests AP courses you may want to consider.
    • Only the PSAT/NMSQT is a qualifier for the National Merit®Scholarship Program.

Most students take the PSAT/NMSQT exam during their junior year in high school, but it is available for 10th-grade students as well. The PSAT/NMSQTexam is a standardized test that provides first-hand practice for the SAT exam. It also gives students an opportunity to participate in the National Merit® Scholarship Program.

The PSAT/NMSQT exam is administered each October. If your student would like to take the test this fall, contact your local high school well in advance to register for the test (four months prior to the test is suggested). Registration deadlines may vary from district to district. Online registration is NOT available. The test may also be available at some private schools.

The PSAT/NMSQT exam number for Virginia homeschoolers is 994799.

Some schools districts have questioned administering the PSAT/NMSQT exam to students homeschooling under religious exemption. The Department of Education has indicated that there is nothing to prevent a school from administering the test to religiously exempt students.

The SAT/NMSQT exam covers critical reading skills, math reasoning skills, and writing skills.

It does not require students to recall specific facts from classes. The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT exam are:

  • to receive feedback on strengths and weaknesses of skills necessary for college study;
  • to see how the student’s performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college;
  • to enter the competition for scholarships from the  National Merit® Scholarship Program (grade 11);
  • to become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions the student will see on the SAT;
  • to receive information from colleges when you check “yes” to Student Search Services.

The College Board has provided homeschool information here.

SAT® Exam Registration*

Most students take the SAT exam during their junior and senior years, although students can take it earlier. It can be taken multiple times during the same year. The SAT measures the critical thinking skills students will need for academic success at the college level. It assesses analytical and problem solving skills. Each section of the SAT exam is scored on a scale of 200-800, with two writing subscores for the multiple-choice section and the essay.

The SAT exam is scheduled six or more times each year beginning in August. Registration is required approximately 30 days prior to each scheduled testing date. Late fees are assessed for late registration.

Only because of special circumstances can a student register by mail. The fee is $49.50 for the regular test and $64.50 for the SAT plus essay, with an additional fee for late orders, though a fee waiver can be requested.

The homeschool number for the SAT exam for all homeschoolers is 970000.

The College Board has provided homeschool information here.

AP® Exam Registration*

AP (Advanced Placement) tests are administered in May of each year at public high schools and some private schools. College credit may be awarded based on AP test results. AP courses will help students develop study habits necessary for college-level work and to study subjects in greater depth and detail.

There are 38 courses and exams covering many subject areas. With a strong interest in the subject of study and a willingness to work hard, a student can get a head start on college-level work.

Beginning August 1, 2019, homeschoolers will have access to the new AP Classroom Suite. These resources include unit guides, personal progress reports, and a progress dashboard. These are designed to help more students earn college credit and placement.

Register here for access to AP Classroom Suite resources.

Important 2019 AP Registration Dates

Early in SEPTEMBER, homeschooled students can contact AP Services for Students at 888-225-5427 (press 1) or 212-632-1781 to receive contact information for local AP coordinators willing to host homeschooled students for 2020 AP Exams. Homeschool parents may also call or email the local high school counselor to request the AP exam. Every high school in Virginia is required to offer the test to homeschoolers.**

By OCTOBER 4, homeschooled students should contact a coordinator from the list to check on exam availability. The College Board encourages students to prepare a list of the exams they plan to take, so they can ensure the school offers their preferred exams.

NOVEMBER 15 is the AP test ordering deadline! All schools must submit exam orders by this date. While schools can add additional exams to an order up until March 13, there will be a late-order fee of $40 per exam. Schools may require students to pay this fee in addition to the exam fee. They may set their own deadlines for accepting late orders from homeschooled students.

The College Board AP exam fee is $94 per exam. There is an additional $40 fee for late orders, unused exams, and canceled exams.

*Free reviews and practice tests for the SAT® and PSAT® exams, as well as many other tests, are available at

**22.1-254.1(F) requires ALL Virginia high schools to make the AP and PSAT examinations available to home instructed students.

*PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which were not involved in the production of—and do not endorse—the services of HEAV.

SAT® and AP® trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of—and does not endorse—the services of HEAV.