My experience with the PASS standardized test for homeschoolers

Here’s my son a week after taking the test, super proud of a fish he just caught!

This year my nine-year-old is in the third grade, and according to the law in Georgia, I’m required to have him tested every three years, starting in the 3rd grade. Fortunately, we do not have to show the results to anyone, so it seemed like a good way to assess how he’s doing. But as I started thinking about having to administer the test, and I went over a test prep book with him, I started to realize why teachers in our public schools are frustrated with all the testing going on. This was taking valuable time away from real learning!

And, frankly, I already know where he’s strong and where he’s weak. I am the closest person to him, teaching him all the fundamentals that he would be taught in traditional school. I know what he gets, and I know what he needs more work on, or what we haven’t gone over yet, and the test didn’t tell me anything new. So, it felt like a waste of our time to have to do this, but then again, it’s not a bad idea to occasionally assess how things are going, and unlike the public schools, we only have to do it every three years. I’m grateful for that!

I spent some time trying to research the different test options, and I mostly came up empty. At best, I found brief anecdotes by parents who had used a particular test and liked it or didn’t like it for whatever reason. There were no details about how to order and what testing my child would really look like, so that’s why I’m writing this post.

Because it seemed like the easiest to order and administer, I picked the Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS test), which is produced by Hewitt Homeschooling. This test is similar to other standardized tests, but it’s made for homeschoolers so that it is easy to administer in their homes. Unfortunately, it’s not approved in every state, but the state of Georgia (and some others) has approved it, and I’m glad because it was easy to order and administer at home.

The first thing I liked about ordering the test, besides the simple online order form, was that I could pick the date I wanted the company to ship the test. So, if you’d like to get the ordering out of the way, but you know you won’t administer the test for another month or two, you can have them ship it a week before you want to use it. You have four weeks to use the test and then return it to Hewitt Homeschooling to have it scored. (You have to do this with every standardized test. You also have to pay for them in case you didn’t know that, which I didn’t know either when I started homeschooling. The PASS test was $36 for one student.)

The test has three sections in reading, language arts and math. When you get the test, you’ll need to carefully read the instructions (but they aren’t complicated) and administer a pre-test to determine what level of test to give to your child. (If you’ve used the test before, you won’t have to do this.) This is because each test booklet (reading, language arts and math) each contains all the levels, and they are numbered from approximately 1-25. (Or something like that — I don’t have the booklets anymore to refer to.) The levels DO NOT equal grade level.

The pre-test is simply 12 questions in each section. It took my son less than an hour to take the pre-test, and then I scored it, and there were instructions to tell me which level to give him for each subject. The instructions also tell you that you can read over the recommended level, and if you think it’s too hard or too easy, you can pick another level that you think is more appropriate for your child. It said a child should be able to answer at least 50%-90% of the questions correctly.

What I also like about the PASS test is that I didn’t have to time my son. He’s never taken a test before, so I really wasn’t sure how he’d feel about sitting there for a long time taking a test. But I took three days to administer the test, giving one section on each day. I let him take a 5-minute break half-way through each test. It took him about an hour to complete each section of the test. (I’m grateful he didn’t have to take all three sections on one day! Three hours would have been a long time.) But he had no problem taking the tests, especially since all it requires is shading in those little bubbles. He kept focused the whole time, and he told me he didn’t think they were too hard.

Once you’re finished, you have to return the bubble sheet with your child’s answers and another form to Hewitt Homeschooling. You need to use a cardboard mailer so that the answer sheet won’t get bent, and you’ll have to pay the postage. You sign a form stating that you will destroy the test booklets because they are under copyright law, and you should not show them to anyone else.

In a few weeks, Hewitt Homeschooling will send you your child’s scores, and not only do they give you your child’s raw score, they’ll give you a percentile of how your child did compared to other homeschoolers who took the same test, and on top of that, they’ll  give you a percentile of how your child did compared to a national standardized test. I have heard that other tests do not give you this much information, so it was helpful to see.

If you’re looking at the PASS test, I hope this was helpful to you. I’m happy to answer any other questions too.

28 thoughts on “My experience with the PASS standardized test for homeschoolers

  1. Thank you so much for this excellent write up! My son is a rising third grader and I’m starting to research testing and have bought a test prep book as well. I had not heard of PASS but it sounds perfect. Thanks again for your blog and all the info you provide! Tara

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shelli, thank you for this post! My son starts third grade this August so this information is timely for us. I had not begun researching my options or what was required of us so your post is a huge help. We completed the Spectrum 2nd grade book after reading one of your posts last year. Please know there are those of us who appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences, even if we don’t generally comment online. Enjoy your summer!


  3. This is my first year homeschooling my son and he is in 6th grade. I am trying to research what test to give him for 2017-2018 year. What would you recommend. I am hoping I can give the test in my home instead of having to take him to be tested. If I went with Hewitt or Cat would I be within Ga laws? Or do I need to take him to be tested? I noticed on GADOE it has Hewitt and CAT listed. I only have High School Diploma. He has to be tested 6th grade and I am stuck.


    1. Hi Amanda. I live in Georgia, and I administered the PASS test to my son at home. Georgia law approves this test. I cannot recommend anything else because I haven’t tried any other test. I know there are others you can administer at home, though. You don’t have to take him to be tested. And you don’t have to share the results with anyone, so it’s nothing to worry about anyway. Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help. Good luck.


      1. No, it does not. Most tests only cover math, reading and language arts. There are a few that cover science and social studies, but I don’t know which ones off the top of my head.


  4. Thankyou so much! You have been a big help to me! From reading your experience with the test and the advice you gave me I will go with the Pass Test also.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for posting! I have homeschooled for 20 years but now have two younger children, one who is delayed due to an auditory processing issue. I always used the Family Learning Organization testing service, which I loved, but all their tests are timed. I am not sure how this son will do being timed, as he is distaractable.. lol. This looks like a good option for us. There are many testing options listed on the HSLDA website as well, if anyone needs additional info. on services or state requirements. Thanks again!


  6. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for your post! We are moving to Georgia from another state and I had a lot of questions about assessment test and what exactly Georgia’s policy was. So this was extremely helpful.
    -Should the test be given at the beginning of the year or at the end?
    -Since my kids will be going into 5th, 7th, and 9th and we are new to homeschooling in Georgia should all of them be tested next year or just my 9th grader and my 7th grader wait until 9th and 5th grader wait until 6th?
    -If our kids take an ACT or SAT test in 12th grade do they need to still take one of these?
    -Is there a high school version of this test? It sounds like there is but I haven’t been able to find it. I am very interested in it for my 9th grader.
    Thank you!!


    1. Hi Erin,

      Thank you for writing, and I will answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

      1. It doesn’t matter when you give the PASS test. I did it at the end of the year, but when you order it, there will be short placement test, which will make sure your child gets the appropriate level test.
      2. In Georgia, you are only required to test students every three years, starting in the 3rd grade, so you need to test them in 3rd, 6th and 9th. After that, your child would just take whatever test they need for the college of their choice, if they are going to college.
      3. The PASS test is just one of many tests approved for homeschoolers that you can administer to your students. Also, there is no oversight for these tests. You are on your honor to give one to your kids, and you keep the results for your own records. It’s really just a tool so that you can see how your child is doing.
      4. It’s been awhile since I read about the PASS test, but I believe they only have tests available through the 8th grade. After that, you will need to find a different test. There are many Facebook groups for homeschoolers in Georgia. You might do a search for a local group wherever you might be moving to in Georgia or either find a state-wide group. I’m sure you could get a lot of help there.

      Don’t hesitate to email me back, if you have any other questions for me! I hope this was helpful. Good luck!


  7. I was wondering if you had info on where I would find the test prep book or if that is included with the testing material – getting ready to do our first test for grade 4 – thanks so much 🙂


    1. Hi Autumn…To my knowledge, there is no test prep book for the PASS test. The way they do it is that when you receive the test, you’ll give your student a 10 question quiz, and then you’ll grade that, and the instructions will tell you what level of test to administer the student. (The level numbers do NOT equal grade levels!) The purpose of the test is to tell you exactly where your student stands right now, and it’ll give you an idea of which subjects they are stronger/weaker, and then you can find resources to help fill in any gaps. So there’s no need to prep! Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!


  8. Would not recommend the P.A.S.S test whatsoever. The typos are insane and ridiculous, and the fact that these tests for each and every grade were published in 1981 makes the reading & language portion out of date and improper for sufficient and correct reading/grammar skills taught for the attached school year. Also if you do this for more than one year in a row, they choose the levels for you, so you can’t have your child go up or down a level if need be.


    1. Hi Corbin, Thanks for your comment. I’ll approve it so that others are aware of your experience. I administered the test to my son in the 3rd and 6th grade, and he and I didn’t notice any big, negative issues with the test. Since I didn’t administer it a year after I first gave it to him, I had to give him a pretest again in order to figure out which level to give him. I felt the PASS exam assessed his abilities pretty well, especially since I already know his strengths and weaknesses by working so closely with him everyday on all subjects. Next year he’ll be in the 9th grade, and I’ll need to test him again as per our state law, but I’ll pick a different test since PASS is only available through 8th grade. I’m looking forward to comparing PASS with another test.


  9. I have been reading all the comments. I read your son is taking another test since he is in 9th grade. I was wondering which one you chose and what you thought about it. How does it compare to the PASS test?


  10. I administered the PASS and never received the results back and have been unable to get in contact with them. I had tried when it was approximately a month after mailing in test. It has been since July that I tested and I gave it until August it is now March of 2023 and their 800 number is no longer a working number. I’m trying to reach someone again so I can get the results so I can administer and compare I’m in NC and the students have to be tested yearly.


    1. Oh, no. Did you try calling this number that is on their website? (360) 835-8708 I never had a problem with them the three times I ordered these tests.


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