What Does "Test Optional" College Admission Mean for Homeschoolers?

I received this request from Jennifer this week:

           I would like to see you write on your blog about the potential new trend
          of colleges not requiring test scores for admission. George Washington University
          dropped this requirement for incoming freshmen. How do you feel this will
          change admission for homeschool graduates if it becomes more wide spread like
           expected? I can see it being a potential double edged sword.

I have done a little research and formulated an answer for Jennifer and anyone else who is wondering the same thing about colleges not requiring test scores for admission and how this will affect homeschool graduates.

First, George Washington University is not the first college to drop the test scores requirement for admission.  I found this website  with a list of schools that "do not require ACT/SAT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into Bachelor's degree programs."  In fact, the website states that more than 800 four-year colleges and universities fall into this category.

Is this a double-edged sword?
Possibly, but not necessarily.

Second, colleges will still accept ACT/SAT scores, but don't necessarily require them.

The colleges that are dropping the test requirement still want some documentation from homeschooled applicants.  Some of the requirements I found (not all schools require everything)are: 

 portfolios that include courses taken including a list of textbooks, books read, statement of philosophy of homeschooling and why it was chosen; 2 recommendations; a transcript; an interview; and all the required application essays and resume.

For me, it would be easier to have my student take the standardized test to verify the grades on the transcript.  For others, the above list is a welcome change.

Some colleges that are test optional still ask home educated students for a test score.  Some of the test-optional state colleges require out-of-state students to submit a test score. 

Bottom line: I believe 'test optional' gives students the opportunity to put their best foot forward.

If a student doesn't test well, but has an awesome portfolio and can interview well, then that is an advantage for the student.  (Even colleges that require ACT/SAT will look at a portfolio for admission.)

If a student does test well, they can still submit test scores as part of the admission process and I think it would be to their advantage to do so.

I am taking my own advice this year about what to do about the new SAT.  My rising senior is only taking the ACT (without writing) because she does well on that test and the schools on her list will accept either test. 

How do you think test optional admission policies will affect home educated students?
Will it help give a better picture of the student's academic ability?

When (homeschooling/parenting) Doubts and Fears Assail

If you are honest with yourself, you have had moments (or longer) when doubts and fears have assailed you- either about homeschooling, parenting, or both.

I addressed that issue at My Joyfilled Life ABC's of homeschooling series.  I had the letter 'Q' to write about.  I chose:  Quit Underestimating Yourself.

Jump over to the blog to read my guest post about how to do that.

What homeschooling/parenting doubts or fears do you have?

Homeschool Curriculum Clearance Sale

homeschool sale

I suppose this could be called my 'going out of business' sale.  After 20+ years of homeschooling, I am down to my last student and she is going to take her senior year dual enrollment at the community college.

So, it is time to clear my shelves! (or at least some of them)

I have lots of books in lots of subjects and grade levels.  Some of the books are older editions, but you can get a bargain if you don't need the newest version. 

 After all, let's be real, how much does a textbook change from version to version?

Prices listed include media rate shipping.  Paypal is the easiest way for you to pay me.  Email me if you want to buy something and I will let you know how to pay me.  

If you have a question about a book, post it in the comments so everyone can see the question and the answer.

If a listing is crossed out, it is no longer available.  Listings are by grade level (mostly) within the subject category.   Most items are priced 1/2 of new, or less.

My Father's World High School Curriculum is listed as sets.  


writer's inc sale
$10 each ppd
  Write on Track, hardcover- $10ppd
Writers Express, hardcover- $10ppd

$12 each ppd
Writers INC, hardcover- $12 ppd
Write Source 2000, hardcover- $12 ppd

$12 ppd
Write for College, softcover- $12ppd

Critical Thinking Press Language Mechanic, Level A Book 1 (grade 4-6), softcover
    no writing, like new- $8ppd

Critical Thinking Press Editor in Chief B1 (grade 6-8), softcover
    no writing, like new - $7ppd

$8 each or $30 for all 4 ppd

 National Writing Institute Books, all spiral bound:
Writing Strands, Level 5 (middle school, early high school)-$8ppd
Writing Strands,  Level 6(10th-11th grade)- $8ppd
Writing Strands,  Level 7 (11th-12th grade)-$8ppd
Writing Strands, Writing Exposition (college prep)-$8ppd

vocabulary from classical roots sale
Vocabulary from Classical Roots
Vocabulary from Classical Roots Sets- includes teacher book and student book.  I did not let my students write answers in the books.
Set B, grade 8 ( a couple doodles in the margin)- $10ppd
Set C, grade 9- $10 ppd
Set D, grade 10- $10 ppd
Set E, grade 11- $10 ppd


Critical Thinking Press Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis Book 2, 
      softcover set includes Teacher Manual, like new (grades 5-8)- $15 ppd

saxon math sale
Saxon Math 76, textbook, test forms, answer booklet- $18ppd 

 Saxon Math 87, textbook- $18 ppd (update-includes test booklet & answer forms)

Saxon Algebra 1/2 Set- textbook, test forms, answer key booklet (yes, the answer booklet is well used). -$18 ppd

Life of Fred Books- practically brand new, bought last summer
Life of Fred Advanced Algebra Expanded Edition, new- $30ppd
Life of Fred Geometry with Answers booklet, new- $30ppd
Life of Fred Trigonometry, new- $30ppd

Saxon Calculus Set including Solutions Manual, Test Forms, and answer booklet- $40 ppd


$5 each or $6 both ppd
Wild Goose Science activity books, 48 pages, softcover, no writing- like new, ages 8+
Bones & Hearts & Other Parts  and Physical Forces & Chemical Changes- 
$5 each or $6 both ppd

Abeka Books, Investigating God's World, softcover, Grade 5 - $6 ppd

Abeka Books Matter & Motion Set, grade 7, softcover- $9 ppd

Critical Thinking Sciencewise, Book 3, grades 7-12, like new- $10ppd 

Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science Set, $32 ppd

Botany Coloring Book by Paul Young, looks brand new except one page has been colored (Plant Cell Structure), one page has highlighting, softcover - $10 ppd

Zoology Coloring Book by Paul Young, 11 of 107 pages have been colored,$8ppd

Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 2nd edition, textbook- $30 ppd

Apologia Exploring Creation with Physics Set- $40 ppd

 Apologia Advanced Physics Set- $40 ppd

 Apologia Advanced Biology Set- $40 ppd


Tell Me More French, beginner to advanced, 4 CD's, does not include the headset- $50ppd

Latina Christiana Book 1 Student Book, third edition. One page of first exercise has answers in pencil, otherwise unused- $8 ppd

Paso A Paso Spanish textbooks, 1 workbook (has answers in pencil), middle school age and up- $20 ppd

 Elementary Greek, year 2, textbook, audio cd, flashcards- $25 ppd


Artistic Pursuits, High School Book 1,  copyright 1999, not sure about edition $20 ppd

Front- Artistic Pursuits (the funny image at the bottom is a reflection)
Artistic Pursuits- inside- Includes art instruction and exercises as well as art history/appreciation


  State and Local Studies, BJU Press, softcover- $6 ppd

The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide by Maggie Hogan & Cindy Wiggers, softcover, very good condition- $15ppd


The pictures show what I have.  Check www.mfwbooks.com to see any other books they recommend that may not be included in what I am selling.

 Ancient History Set

$90 ppd

Ancient History Set includes:  Daily Lesson Plans book, Ancient Lit Supplement, Exploring World History Quiz and Exam book and Answer Key, Unwrapping the Pharaohs (hardcover), Exploring World History Book 1 and              Book 2(shown in both photos), In Their Own Words, Eric Liddell, The New Answers in Genesis, Taking the Old Testament Challenge, Bullfinch's Greek & Roman Mythology (all softcover books)

World History Set
$150 ppd

Set includes: Daily Lesson Plans book, History Through the Ages Timeline Figures, Atlas of the World, World History Map Activities, Heroes of the Faith, In His Steps, Writers Inc, More Than a Carpenter, Beowulf, Julius Caesar, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, British Literature Teachers Guide

U. S. History to 1877 

$210 ppd


U. S. History to 1877 set includes: Daily Lesson Plans book, Answer Key for U. S History to 1877, American Literature Supplement, BJU U. S. History textbook, U. S. History Student Activities Teacher edition, Thinking Like A Christian Set (includes dvd, teachers guide, Teaching textbook and unused Student journal), Growing Up Christian, Assumptions that Affect Our Lives, Early American Literature, Under God, Never Before In History,Narrative of the Life of Fred Douglas, My Heart in His Hands, 101 Great American Poems, Of Plymouth Plantation, The Scarlet Letter Study Guide (shown below), Under God teacher book and U.S History Test answer key (not shown)

A general homeschooling resource.  $8ppd

The Well Trained Mind (hardcover, some highlighting) $18 ppd

From Playpen to Podium by Jeff Myers, sofcover- $10 ppd

I hope you find something that you need for your school!  Please be sure to share with anyone who is still looking for curriculum.  Thanks!

If you have questions about any of the books listed, remember to ask in the comments section.

 To find more used curriculum for sale, hop on over to the ihomescholnetwork used curriculum blog hop.

Preparing for the New SAT

Now that the initial uproar about the new SAT has subsided, it is time to think about how to prepare your student for the new test   If your student will graduate in 2017 or beyond, they will be taking the new SAT, if they take the SAT.

As I mentioned last year, one option would be to take only the ACT test.

 But, if you want some excellent information on preparing for the test, my friend Lauren Gaggioli at Higher Scores Test Prep is having a free workshop Webinar to help you determine what is the best route for your student.

Here is the information I received from Lauren in an email:

I know. I know! It's not even July yet, but the time has come to talk about the new SAT. 
This is incredibly important for all students who are in the Class of 2017 because, if they want to have choices, they have to choose their path now

Just to be clear, you may choose not to act until later. That's fine! But those who don't explore what's coming up in a few months may find themselves on a path they wouldn't have chosen to take if they had more information.

Not good.

So, to help families figure out what the best plan is for them, I'm hosting a free workshop with my dad, Bob Verbarg on Wednesday, July 1 and Thursday, July 2.

This is a workshop that is similar to one we've done before. We will be discussing ways you can leverage your test scores for cash in college.

The difference with this presentation is that we will be providing information that is custom-tailored to this year's juniors.

As always, we will open up for Q&A at the end of the session. I'm happy to stay on as long as needed to answer any questions you have about these changing tests and the strategies I'm recommending.

Register to join us at https://www.higherscorestestprep.com/workshop.

OH! One more thing...

Maybe you're not in the class of 2017, but you might know someone who is. Would you please...

I want every student to have the opportunity to choose their testing path, not be shoehorned into a schedule they wouldn't have otherwise chosen.

I know I can't reach everyone, but - with your help - we can get the word out to many families who need this information.

I know Lauren and her dad will give you excellent information and advice as well as answer any questions you may have.  Sign up today so you and your student will be prepared!

**This is not a paid recommendation, I truly believe Lauren has good information to help students.


We are blessed with a phenomenal youth theater program in our community.  My three younger children have been active participants in it, and our family has enjoyed attending shows there for many, many years.

Our very talented theater director is a homeschool dad who works very well with the students.  He seems to be able to bring out the best in everyone.

This summer, Theatricks is hosting the 2nd annual Youth Theater Conference.  This is a 3 day conference for students in grades 6-12 (completed).  Students will write and perform a 10 minute one-act play.

I assisted with this last year and was skeptical that it could be done.  But, I discovered that a play can be written, rehearsed, and performed in that short time and it can be done very well!

I think the conference will be even better this year!  Here is some information from the conference web page.

Sherman Community Players’ youth theatre, Theatricks, is hosting a very fun and active theatre conference, STAGES TOO!, this summer, and we invite you to take part!
The  STAGES TOO! conference will be held June 18, 19, & 20, 2015, in the historic Kidd-Key Auditorium in Sherman, TX. The focus of the three-day conference will be the creation of 10-minute one-act plays.  The plays will be performed on the Kidd-Key stage on the last day of the conference.  Students in grades 6 through 12 are invited to attend.

The conference will kick-off with a workshop taught by theatre playwright, Ruth Cantrell, who will share her expertise as she instructs participants in the process of writing a play.
Ruth currently works with the Dallas Children's Theatre as a teacher.  Before that she was a professor of Theatre Arts at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM from 1985 to 2012 where she taught: Script Analysis, Acting 1, Acting 2, Acting Styles, Creative Dramatics, Playwriting, and Introduction to Theatre.  Her plays are published by Youth Plays (www.youthplays.com). While in New Mexico, Ruth was awarded the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence and Achievements in the Arts (New Mexico's highest arts award).

Following the playwriting workshop, students will actively participate in a session on improvisational techniques taught by Lindsay Goldapp and will be used to help in the development of a storyline.   Lindsay has been doing improvisational comedy for 15 years and is a graduate of the Second City Improv Conservatory. Lindsay spent the past several years in Chicago performing and teaching improv and sketch comedy.

After lunch, participants will be divided into groups to begin writing 10-minute one-act plays.  At 5 p.m. all groups will assemble for dinner in the Municipal Ballroom to be followed by a Murder Mystery Party hosted by Theatricks' youth theatre group, the Supporting Cast at the Hampton Inn.

 The STAGES Conference registration fee is $75.00 per registrant and includes participation in all workshops, the six served meals, the evening at the water park, and the opportunity to meet and make new friends and acquaintances.  Registration forms can be obtained from Theatricks’ website (www.theatricks.org).

I am super excited about the Murder Mystery Party.  The whole 3 day conference sounds like so much fun!  I will be there helping again this year and hope to see your student there, too!

If you have students even slightly interested  in theater, I highly recommend this conference.  Plus, it could be a 1/2 credit in Theater Arts.

Go to the website to register and find out more.

Unique Wedding Cakes

Mexican Chocolate Cakes on the sides; Banana Nut Cake in the middle

I usually save my food/recipe posts for the week-end, but I have been rather busy with my son's wedding this past week-end and many people requested the recipe I am sharing today.

Being the groom's mom is significantly easier than being the bride's mom.  I agreed to be responsible for the cakes for my oldest son's wedding.  He and his sweet bride wanted cakes exactly like my daughter made for her January wedding.

So, with help from my daughter, we created the cakes you see in the photo.  I baked and froze the cakes, my daughter worked her magic on assembling and decorating.

I posted the Marvelous Banana Nut Cake recipe after her wedding. Many people at my son's wedding loved the Mexican Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone frosting.

This cake has a unique flavor because it includes cinnamon and cayenne pepper in the batter.  The frosting is really good too, if you don't like your frosting to be super sweet.

My daughter found the recipe at BakedBree's blog.
Jump over to her post to see how she keeps the cake from doming in the middle.  I have used this technique, but bought the Wilton Bake Even Strip Set to make it easier for all the cakes I baked.

I baked the cakes in 3- 9" pans for about 30 minutes instead of 2-8" pans. 


1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together in mixing bowl.  Add wet ingredients.  Mix with hand mixer on low speed until mixed well.

Pour batter into pans that have been prepared by greasing and putting parchment paper in the bottom of pan. Grease parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees.  If using 3 pans, bake about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  If using 2 pans, bake 45-50 minutes.
Let cool in pans 10 minutes.   Turn out on wire rack.
If you are going to freeze your cakes, wrap in plastic wrap and then foil while still warm.

1 (8-ounce) tub of mascarpone cheese
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream

Whisk together everything but cream.
In separate bowl, with electric mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold the mascarpone mixture into the cream mixture. 

We cut each layer in half (torted) to create 6 layers.  Frost between layers and on outside of cake.  Refrigerate cake if not serving immediately.  Refrigerate leftovers.

If you have leftover frosting, it is really good used as a coffee creamer!

You may have noticed the same cake topper in this photo and the banana cake photo from my daughter's wedding.  I think my children may have started a tradition of using their grandparents cake topper from their 1960 wedding!

Homeschool Year 23 in Review

We have officially completed our school year.

Even though I am usually always ready to be done with the school year, I do like to look back and reflect on what we accomplished.

Our Year in Review, looks like this:
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