Preparing for College


Understanding transcripts, diplomas, college entrance exams and college applications.

This guide provides helpful information to assist you and your homeschooled student in preparing for college. Homeschooled students can go to college, receive scholarships and place well on entrance exams.

Families are encouraged to prayerfully consider whether graduation is the best plan for each student. Ensign Peak Academy students may choose whether or not to graduate, and students are always welcome to enroll in less than the full set of live courses offered each year.

If you graduate from Ensign Peak Academy, then you do not need to apply to college as a homeschooler.

If you choose not to graduate, it is helpful to know that most colleges have a homeschool admissions track, to facilitate the many homeschoolers wishing to attend college each year.

Click the links below to jump to a specific section


Many colleges will accept a homeschool/non-accredited transcript

In addition to the accredited transcript anticipated through Ensign Peak Academy, transcripts may also created by the parents of the student, or administrator of a homeschool co-op. It is acceptable to submit multiple transcripts. In this case, a parent may create a transcript reflecting subjects studied independently, at home, during the high school years. Both transcripts, in addition to transcripts from other institutions, will be accepted by many college admissions departments. Note that the BYUs do not accept transcripts from non-accredited entities.

Admission of homeschooled students without any transcript

Alternately, many homeschooled students are admitted to colleges each year without a transcript of any kind, accredited or non-accredited. Some colleges do not accept non-accredited transcripts, but do accept homeschooled students. The acceptance decision is based on a holistic review of the application, which includes a number of criteria, demonstrating a well rounded, diligent student who is ready for the college experience.

Ensign Peak Academy Transcripts and Grade Reports

At the end of each school year, a grade report, reflecting courses completed and grades earned, will be provided to each middle school student (grades 7-8). A transcript, reflecting courses completed and grades and credit earned, will be provided to each high school student (grades 9-12).

Recommendations for Building Your Transcript

If you opt not to graduate from Ensign Peak Academy, but to take some classes, you will still receive an accredited transcript. In addition, you may decide to create a separate transcript showing subjects learned as an independent homeschooler. In that case, you may find it helpful to review Transcripts Made Easy by Janice Campbell

A good transcripts reflects the following:

  1. Minimum of 15 credits (though transcripts of less than 15 are accepted by college admissions)
  2. Variety of courses
  3. Courses spread over time (not all in one year)
  4. Good grades

Sample transcripts

Sample Transcript Template – Spreadsheet

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Markers that admissions departments look for

In considering the whole application, it is helpful to demonstrate achievement in the following areas:

  1. Academic success
  2. Leadership
  3. Service
  4. Talent development
  5. Extra-curricular activities
  6. A well rounded life

The main theme or your application is to provide evidence and descriptions about the opportunities you have had in your life and what you have done with those opportunities.

The High School Diploma

Most high school seniors are admitted to college before graduation from high school, and therefore don’t yet have a diploma. Some college applications ask if the student is on track to graduate at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled, at the time of their application. This is not typically a requirement, but does contribute to the overall admissions decision. Colleges are typically more interested in the student’s academic achievements rather than whether or not they have graduated from high school.

ACT and SAT Exams

Ensign Peak Academy ACT High School Code: 662718

Most colleges require a standardized exam for admissions, such as the ACT or SAT. This applies both to students who attended school and those who were homeschooled.

These exams serve two purposes:

  1. Minimum admission criteria (unless applying to an “open enrollment” college, in which case there is no minimum score for admission)
  2. Placement

Exams are primarily focused on language arts and math. They are used to establish that the student can read, write and understand English, sufficient for college work.

Competency in Algebra 1 will assist a student in scoring well enough for admission at most colleges. Additional math competencies will increase the score, help with scholarships and provide a greater chance for admission. It is also helpful to be placed in a higher college math course.

ACT info can be found at

The ACT exam can be taken in your local area by registering online for one of the dates that the exam is offered in your area.

Alternately, the “ACT Residual” exam is offered at more frequently time intervals, at most colleges, to meet the admission requirements of that particular college, without being transferable to any other college.

It is recommended that you prepare for the ACT by studying Princeton Review’s Cracking the ACT or by taking an ACT prep course.

SAT info can be found at


This exam is required by some colleges, for homeschool applicants who do not have a diploma from an accredited high school. Check with your college of choice to learn if it is required. (This is the case with BYU Idaho, but not with BYU in Provo.)

Info can be found at

A separate exam is administered for four subjects and each test is a different length, as follows:

  • Math– Quantitative & algebraic problem solving (115 minutes)
  • Science– Life science, physical science, earth and space science (90 minutes)
  • Social Studies– Civics and government, U.S. history, economics, geography and the world (70 minutes)
  • Reasoning Through Language Arts– Ability to read closely, write clearly, and edit and understand written text (150 minutes)

Please search online for the cost of taking the GED in your state.

The cost for taking the GED in Utah:

  • Pay for one subject at a time
  • $30 per subject
  • Retake your test at a discount if you don’t pass

You will receive your score within 3 hours

  • Passing score = 145
  • College Ready = 165 – 174 (you are ready to begin attending college classes)
  • College Ready + Credit = 174 – 200 (means you could earn up to 10 hours of college credit)

200 per subject = maximum score.

Minimum age to test in Utah = 18 if their age mates have graduated. (Special exceptions for ages 16-18 – check with Utah State Dept of Ed.)

It is recommend that students take the test to find out if more study is needed. Study materials are available.

Practice test: $6 per subject or $24 for all four subjects

Prep materials: $30 – $114 (Depending on the level of service)


Scholarships are not just for students with accredited transcripts. Many homeschooled students receive scholarships. Seek information from the financial aid office of the college of your choice to assist you in identifying scholarships that will accept homeschooled applicants. You may also find private scholarships online.

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CES Schools

This section provides helpful links and information about BYU Provo, BYU Idaho, BYU Hawaii, Ensign College and the BYU Salt Lake Center.

Begin by reviewing the Admissions Guide, to learn about the AIMS of a BYU education, admissions process, due dates and tuition.

You will also find helpful information here about how to prepare yourself to succeed at BYU: Preparation Recommendations

Regarding financial aid, it is helpful to apply every year for scholarships. These are available based on need and achievement. BYU offers one application that includes many scholarships. BYU has a financial aid initiative to help Pell-eligible students cover the cost of tuition. It is called Cougar Pell Promise.

BYU in Provo

BYU uses a holistic review process. This means that all parts of the application are considered. A certain GPA or ACT score does not guarantee admission.

The ACT and SAT are not required through Winter 2026 for students who have a high school diploma from an accredited high school. This is subject to change. Those students are still welcome to submit their ACT/SAT score, especially if it is an accurate reflection of academic ability.

Homeschoolers and those with some high school credit but no diploma are required to take the ACT or SAT. A few 4-year scholarships also ask for the ACT/SAT. The GED is also required for homeschool applicants. More information is provided here for homeschool applicants: Homeschool Applicants

Review the BYU Entrance Stats to determine how to improve your chances for enrollment.

When applying to BYU Provo, there is a button you can click to also apply to BYU Idaho at the same time. No additional fee is charged for this.

The BYU Application Essay: The essay is a very important part of a BYU application.  Make sure that your essay helps BYU know about you, your character, your choices and why you care about the things that are valuable to you. On the right side of the page on each essay page, you will find links to the AIMs of a BYU education and a link to help you better understand the AIMs. These are very helpful to review prior to deciding how you will respond to the prompts.  It is also helpful to be aware of the space available and make good use of all that is provided.  This is how the admissions committee will be able to get to know you.  Be genuine, be yourself. Some of the prompts have multiple facets to the questions, so be sure to respond to all of them in your essay. It is also important that the work is your own. You are able to have someone review your work grammatically, but the essay needs to be your own.

HELPFUL HINT: Applicants who submit the application by the priority deadline will receive extra consideration in the admission process.

Applicants will need an endorsement from their bishop and stake president. Seminary graduation is a good indicator of the spiritual strength of the applicant.


Earn BYU Credit without the standard application requirements. Participate in campus events and activities. Live with other students and attend a YSA ward. You can have the BYU experience you’ve been wanting! Visit the BYU FlexGE page for full details. Note that BYU FlexGE doesn’t provide degrees.

BYU Idaho

BYU’s special requirement: an ecclesiastical endorsement, which is required annually

All homeschooled students are required to take the GED or a high school equivalency exam offered by your state, unless you have a transcript from an accredited school showing that you have met your state’s requirements for high school. The application contains a check-box asking the student to indicate if they have completed the secondary school as requirements of their state. This can only be checked it they have a transcript from an accredited school. (Note that this is not on the honor system as BYU Provo uses.)

The ACT or SAT is required.  The minimum ACT score for admission = 16. In 2019-2020 the average SAT score = 1095. The average ACT score = 22 (average range = 19-25).

NOTE: Due to the limited availability of ACT and SAT testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, winter 2021, spring 2021, and fall 2021 applicants may submit their application with or without scores from these exams. (as of 1/13/2021)

BYU Idaho has a 96% admission rate, so chances are pretty good that you will be admitted! They admit many homeschoolers.

The student essay asks for achievements. You may include service, leadership, employment, noteworthy accomplishments, and activities you participated in, such as sports or music.

Students are asked to write what leadership means to them, and how they helped their family or community.

Specific items they look for are:

  • A time they took a risk, or overcame a set back
  • Why they want to attend
  • What they are passionate about
  • Any other item they want to share, such as skills, experiences, and talents

BYU-Idaho homeschool applicants information

BYU Hawaii

Average ACT  26 (SAT equivalent 1170-1200)

Average GPA = 3.5

Admittance rate = 42%

BYU–Hawaii gives priority to students from the target area of the Pacific Islands and East Asia.

Ensign College

The goal of Ensign College is to help students to become career ready.

It is an Open Enrollment College (no minimum ACT score required)

Equivalency of high school graduation/completion, GED, or the completion of at least 24 semester credits of college work

The ACT or the SAT is NOT required.

An ecclesiastical endorsement is required as well as an essay

91% acceptance rate


  • Associates Degree  – 60 credits – 601   2-year degree offered in 20 programs
  • 265 Certificate Programs
  • Starting in Fall 2021 – Bachelor of Applied Science Degrees will be awarded in:
    • Business Management
    • Communication
    • Cyber Security
    • Digital Marketing
    • Accounting

BYU in Provo accepts some classes in the general Ed category, such as English, History, Math, etc. but not the business classes.

Most students are 18-30 year old.

BYU Salt Lake Center

No degree is offered

Credit may be earned for classes and may be transferred to any of the BYUs.

The simple application is really a “clearance for enrollment” which takes 10 minutes.

An ecclesiastical endorsement is required.

No tests are required (No GED, ACT or SAT).

Offering 150 undergraduate university courses each semester

If a homeschooler wishes to attend prior to age 18, they are accepted on a case by case, by speaking to an academic advisor. There is no minimum age.

24 credits may be earned at the BYU Salt Lake Center in order to be a transfer student for BYU Provo admissions, which means that no high school records are needed for entry into BYU Provo.

Same tuition as BYU Provo

Most students in 18-30 age range

Smaller class sizes.

Other Open Enrollment Schools in Utah

Open enrollment schools have no minimum ACT score requirement. These schools have strong LDS Institute programs and are recommended here for LDS students.

  • Utah Valley University (in Orem, UT)
  • Snow College (in Ephraim and Richfield, UT)

Community colleges are also typically open enrollment

BYU Pathway Worldwide

Visit the BYU Pathway website to learn about this exciting option. BYU-Pathway Worldwide provides access to spiritually based degrees completely online at an affordable price.

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Utah Secondary School Requirements

Check your own state for requirements. These are helpful in comparing your homeschool program, if you are required to meet these standards in a college admissions scenario.

Students in grades 9-12 shall earn a minimum of 24 units of credit through course completion, or through competency assessment, to graduate.

Grades 9-12 Core Curriculum credits from courses approved by the Board, as specified:

English/Language Arts (4 Credits)

Mathematics (3 Credits):

  • Successful completion of Secondary Mathematics I, II, and III or higher.
  • Parents may request that students replace Secondary III with a course from the Applied or Advanced approved course list.
  • Students who successfully complete Calculus have met graduation requirements regardless of the number of credits they have taken.

Science (3 Credits):

  • 2 Credits (from the four science foundation areas; Earth Systems, Biological Science, Chemistry, AP Computer Science, or Physics).
  • 1 Credit (from the foundation courses or the applied or advanced science core list).

Social Studies (3 Credits):

  • 1 Credit (U.S. History)
  • 0.5 Credit (Geography)
  • 0.5 Credit (Civilization)
  • 0.5 Credit (U.S. Government and Citizenship)
  • 0.5 Credit (LEA Discretion)

Directed Coursework (3.5 Credits):

  • 0.5 Credit (Fine Arts)
  • 1 Credit (CTE)
  • 0.5 Credit (Computer Technology)
  • 0.5 General Financial Literacy

Physical Education Health (2 Credits):

  • 0.5 Credit (Health)
  • 0.5 Credit (Participation Skills)
  • 0.5 Credit (Fitness for Life)
  • 0.5 Credit (Individualized Lifetime Activities)
  • Optional: 0.5 Credit Maximum (Team Sport/Athletic Participation*)
    * Can be used in place of Participation Skills or Individualized Lifetime Activities only.

Required Electives (5.5 Credits)

Total Credit Hours (24)

To view the Utah State Graduation Requirements online, visit

Click on “Departments” then click on “A-Z Index”

Click on “G” and select Graduation Requirements, see left menu

Click on “Education Requirements”, select High School

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Other Recommended Colleges

The colleges on this list welcome and support all Christians, including Latter-day Saints. In addition, they promote the cause of liberty and honor the roots of American freedom. Their core curriculum is generally aligned with the same core values upon which Ensign Peak Academy is founded.

Hillsdale College

Southern Virginia University

Ashland University

Grove City College

Liberty University

Arizona Christian University

Gutenberg College

Thomas Aquinas College

Criteria to Consider when Selecting a College

  • Credibility and Quality: which is preferred?
    • Ivy League University
    • Private University
    • State College
    • Community College
  • Latter-day Saint vs secular or general Christian perspective
  • Cost/scholarships
  • Availability of Latter-day Saint students as possible marriage companions
  • Proximity to home
  • Access to Latter-day Saint Institute
  • Strength of the core curriculum
  • Strength of the major program of your choice
  • Preparing for the specific career that the student wishes to pursue
  • Average class size
  • Research university or more teaching focused (BYU in Provo vs BYU Idaho)
  • Is a trade school or apprenticeship a better path?

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