~the 5th in a series of articles~
Click here to start at the beginning of the series.
West Virginia native Homer Hickam, author of “October Sky,” has one regret. He did not win a Golden Horseshoe as a student!
Every year 221 students are awarded the coveted Golden Horseshoe and knighted as Ladies and Knights of the Golden Horseshoe in a ceremony at the Capitol in Charleston, WV, in June. The Golden Horseshoe is a scholastic opportunity open to all 8th grade students in West Virginia. Each county has a minimum of two winners, but counties with larger populations have more winners. The test is a competition within a county, not within the state.
The test measures a student’s understanding of West Virginia history, geography, civics, geology, culture, economy, and tourism. There are two parts to the test; the first is a written essay and the second is an online multiple-choice test containing 50 questions. The essay portion is not required, but is used only if there is a tie within the county on the multiple-choice testing portion. Both parts are administered at the public school the student would normally attend.
A registration form must be completed by a teacher, counselor, or school/county administrator where the student would have normally attended public school. About a week after the student is registered, they will be e-mailed additional instructions and links for weekly practice tests to help familiarize the student with the testing format.
Homeschooled students who want to take the Golden Horseshoe exam must register by December 1st.
The online multiple-choice test consists of 50 questions. Students have 40-45 minutes to complete the test. Please note: IEP accommodations are allowed.
To register, send your student’s full name and address to the WV Studies teacher at the school where your student would normally attend public school. The test must be taken at that school. Once the student has been added to the school’s Golden Horseshoe list, your student’s username and password will be emailed to you, a process that should take no more than one week. If it takes longer, please contact the school.
By January 31, test your student’s username and password. This step can be done on a home computer.
Online Practice Tests, made available for students in January, will be posted once a week on Friday. In order to access these practice tests, which mimic the testing process, you will be provided with a special link.
Essay test day for all counties is held in February. This test is used to select a winner in the event of a tie score on the multiple-choice test, as counties are only allowed a certain number of winners. The essay test, which is optional, requires the student to compose an essay of limited length on a specific topic. Sample essay questions can be found online. Again, the sole purpose of the essay test is to break a tie.
The Golden Horseshoe exam itself is administered during the last two weeks of February. Additional information and key dates can be found here.
Read the next article in the series here.