Does my homeschooler "need" to submit test scores?

My high-achieving homeschooled senior is trying to finalize the “reaches” on her list. She scored a 33 on her ACT. It’s a great score but on the low end for some more prestigious schools that she’d like to take a shot at. It’s probably also on the low end for big named scholarships. She’s not your average homeschooler: she attended a traditional high school for grades 9 and 10 and her 11th and 12th grade classes are all APs/Dual Enrollment with the exception of one parent-taught class per year (PE in 11th, Life Skills in 12th) as required by our state for homeschoolers. So, her transcript isn’t full of “mommy grades.” Her UW GPA is 4.0 and Weighted is 4.58. NM Commended. Strong, unique extracurriculars with leadership. Her LORs should be very strong: one from Pre-calc teacher/soccer coach, one from AP Gov and one from BETA Club sponsor. Her biggest negative is that she didn’t study for the science part of the ACT (like I strongly suggested!) and that score drug down her composite.

So do you think it would even be worth applying to lottery schools like Stanford, Brown (legacy), Rice etc. without a test score? She’s actually within range at Stanford and Brown but not Rice. Or maybe submit to Stanford and Brown but go TO to Rice? We would have to have a serious family finances meeting if she got into any of these, but I think she deserves to give it a shot if she wants.

As for scholarships…would a homeschooler be a contender for competitive scholarships like Washington and Lee’s Johnson without test scores? Also considering Claremont McKenna or Scripps but not sure if she’s in the range for merit at either of those, with or without test score.

The other option is to take a stab at the SAT in October to see if she fares better without the science section. She took it and the ACT for the first time about a year ago and the scores were very close, but she liked the ACT better so that’s what she re-took.

You need to check the specific colleges. Some require standardized test scores for students who are homeschooled. Some don’t.

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To update, I’m not asking if she “needs” to necessarily, as I know that almost all schools are test optional at this point. What I’m asking is if it is harder for a homeschooler to obtain admission to selective schools and/or scholarships without a test score. In my mind they need the test score to validate their high school grades. My daughter’s case may be little different as she did attend a traditional high school in grades 9/10 and most of her “homeschool” classes were actually dual enrollment courses. So, maybe she doesn’t need the test score to back up her grades?

Her list has changed since this post. Cornell, Stanford and Claremont McKenna are the elite schools on her list. She hasn’t submitted apps yet so still trying to figure out the test score strategy.

The real answer is “nobody knows”, but I’m curious why your D wouldn’t want every advantage that she could put forward, i.e. submit her test scores. Even if a school’s official policy is not “homeschoolers need test scores” it wouldn’t be hard to see a scenario where the absence of scores doesn’t enhance the application…

In the cases I’ve seen, the issue isn’t “mommy grades”, the issue is showing that a kid (regardless of whether the classes were at a community college, online, in traditional HS, or taught by a parent) has had the necessary rigor to demonstrate that not only could they keep up at- let’s say Cornell- but that their education and intellectual curiosity adds something to campus.

The competitive scholarships is a different issue. A kid needs every single “point” they can get (not that it’s a point system, but you get my drift) to get to the interview stage for these scholarships. It’s too easy to get lost in the noise in the early stages…

If she was NM commended, why didn’t she take the SAT???


She took the ACT twice and the SAT once. Her comparative scores after the first tests were about the same but she preferred the ACT, so that’s why she focused on it. In hindsight, yes, maybe should’ve retaken the SAT as well.

Your question “why your D wouldn’t want every advantage that she could put forward, i.e. submit her test scores” is essentially the question - is a 33 an advantage, even at schools with an ACT range of say 32-35? Washington & Lee’s range is 31-33 so even with an excellent resume in all other areas, I don’t see her being considered for Johnson with a 33. As competitive as it is, I’m afraid 34 is going to be the minimum for someone submitting scores.

I think the default assumption for some of the recent “test optional” schools is that the non-submitters have scores at or below the bottom of the range. Schools that have been TO for a long time and have a track record? I don’t think there is that assumption. But for the recent colleges, it’s going to be hard to counterbalance natural assumptions that someone with a 1590 is likely to submit, and someone with a 1300 is likely not to, given the choice. Not every kid was able to take the SAT/ACT’s this year- but a significantly greater number than last year were able to. And a range of 21-33, and your D having a 33- to me, submitting is a no-brainer. Those competitive scholarships truly are competitive- I don’t see that non-submitting makes her a stronger candidate, do you?

Does your D have those 11th grade AP scores to confirm her strong grades?

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I agree that she’s not an average homeschooler. In our area she’d be competing with kids who had 4 years of dual enrollment not just 2, but you have to apply with the record she has. I think she’s better off including the test scores because without them you risk that adcoms will assume they were below their acceptable range. If you need merit aid, definitely submit the scores.

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In my opinion, the Johnson scholarship is not designed primarily as an academic scholarship. Rather, its purpose is to increase W&L’s diversity and leadership. So an excellent but not tippy tippy top score wouldn’t be a reason she does or doesn’t get the scholarship.

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Interesting. In our state (NC) you can’t take DE until junior year. I’ve heard of some homeschoolers skirting that rule with adequate test scores, but we asked even to take one the summer before junior year (when she was supposed to be returning to her private school) and it was a firm NO from the community college. Had we been homeschooling prior to that I would’ve known that she could qualify with test scores, but guidance counselors and the CC do not volunteer that information, you have to find it and push for it yourself.

Yes, she should submit the score. That, plus her Commendation from National Merit both confirm her good GPA and dual enrollment classes. In our area, we wouldn’t call her homeschooled, we’d call her dual-enrolled. Anyway, that score won’t hurt her applications, and in the case that the school might question the rigor of her classes, it will help.

It’s really too bad about her not having prepped for the science section. My son’s initial science score on his first practice ACT was 29. All he did to “study” for it, was do a few science sections of old ACTs so that he’d be familiar with all the ways they presented the data, and he wound up getting a 36 on it.