Get Smart (and ACT Now!) – Jamie Wallace

sat-or-act-testHello 12th grade students aka Seniors!

It’s summertime and the living is easy…except for summer work, college searching, and college stressing. Remember take one step at a time. Take a breath. The more prepared you are, the more information you have; the less crazy this journey will be.


Getting ready for college? Make sure you take the ACT and SAT by mid-December, 2016 for regular admissions. The University of California (UC) system currently requires the optional writing section while the California State Universities do not. Additionally, many private schools require standardized tests and will accept either the SAT or the ACT. So you might as well take them. ACT and SAT scores can also be used by colleges to satisfy the need for remedial English and Math testing. Take both. Most students do better on one over the other so try them and see which one works better.


Although not as well known in California, the ACT, is accepted by all colleges as a SAT alternative. Even better, in some cases an ACT score takes the place of both the SAT and the SAT Subject tests.


If you did not take the SAT or ACT during 11th grade, now is your chance. You have three opportunities to take each test before mid-December. Don’t worry if you won’t have your scores when the applications are due, indicate that you will be taking the tests, and make sure the scores are sent to the schools when they come in.


This senior year will be one of deadlines. Keep a chart, write dates in red on the calendar.


First up is the ACT on September 10, 2016. The registration deadline is August 5, 2016. (Late Registration with late fee: August 9, 2016). The next ACTs are on October 22 and December 10, 2016.


The SAT is offered on October 1, 2016 with a registration deadline of Sept. 1 and a late registration deadline of Sept. 16, 2016. The next SATs are on November 5 and December 3, 2016.

Free SAT and ACT Test Prep resources:


On or around August 1, 2016 students can access and start filling in college applications for the 2017-2018 school year. This means that the CSU, UC, Common and new Coalition applications should all be available and updated and ready for data after August 1st. Get an unofficial copy of your transcript from the Guidance Office. Figure out a user and password and write it down! Make sure you enter your name the same way every time. Get a jump start and enter all of your personal information as well as coursework and grades, extra-curricular and volunteer information, and completed essays or “personal insight questions” (the UCs). (Hint: draft your written responses in Word, then copy and paste them.) This way if you have any questions or are confused, you will have plenty of time to get proper information. You can fill out the applications before you have narrowed your list of schools, then choose the schools. You will breathe a lot easier if you get this done ahead of time.


The UCs have one application for all of its schools. Students indicate which schools they want to apply to. The application submission period is from Nov. 1 through midnight Nov. 30, 2016. The UCs no longer require a personal statement. They now have questions which require a short answer of under 350 words each. You respond to 4 out of the 8. More information is at


The CSU application is a little different. You fill out and complete the first application, then open another application for the next CSU school and all of the information you have entered will transfer over to the next application. Therefore, do not start more than one CSU application or you will double your work! Applications can only be submitted between Oct. 1 and midnight Nov. 30, 2016. Some CSUs require you to declare a major and some have higher eligibility requirements. The CSUs do not require an essay or letters of recommendation. Starting in August, 2016 you can fill in all of the courses, grades, and personal demographic information. For more information:


The Common Application (“Common App”) is used by private schools and universities. With the Common App there is a central application. Specific schools may require additional or supplemental information or essays. As with the UCs and CSUs, get a head start. A number of these schools offer early decision or early action which means an application period in October or earlier. The regular admissions deadline is usually January through February. Most schools require letters of recommendation and a letter from the guidance counselor. Make your requests according to the CCHS timeline. For more information:


There is a new application this year that is being used by approximately 90 private and state universities and colleges. The Coalition Application will be ready for review by August 1, 2016. The Coalition has its own essay prompts and has an ability to upload projects and essays into a locker. Students must check with the schools to see if they will accept only the Coalition App or will continue to allow the Common App to be submitted. If you are interested in any of the member schools, please check out their current requirements. For more information:


In summary, Get Smart: sign up for standardized tests, keep researching colleges, do what you can ahead of time. Take it one step at a time and you will get there. It is worth the effort!

Jamie Wallace
Get Smart for College
Independent Educational Consultant
Jamie is a UCLA trained educational consultant.
[email protected]

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