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College Planning FAQs

College Planning FAQs

  • Q. How can I increase the chance of getting into a great fit college?

    Starting freshman year, work hard academically and take the most challenging courses that are appropriate for you. Be engaged in activities, both in and outside of school. Follow your interests and passions. Get involved in community service, research, and/or internships related to your interests. You don't need to spread yourself thin with activities. Just identify what you are passionate about and dedicate time to explore and pursue those things that interest you. Seek leadership opportunities and make a difference your activities. Start a new club if there isn’t one that is aligns with your interests. Prepare for standardized tests both with practice and scheduling.

    Q. When do I start the college admissions process?

    Start to earn good grades immediately! Be involved with activities as soon as possible and seek leadership opportunities. Be a team player in the classroom and out. Although the college planning process discussion officially kicks off during the junior year, students and parents can meet with the college counselor earlier to discuss plans.

    Q. How do I register for the SAT?

    See for specifics.

    Q. How do I register for the ACT?

    See for specifics.

    Q. How do I prepare for these tests?

    Your score on the PSAT is an indication of how you will do on the SAT or ACT. 
 Check your scores in each section. You can improve your scores in any section with practice and/or tutoring. There are prep books with actual practice tests available in the College Resource room. See Kathleen Reid to check these books out. Riverdale offers SAT and ACT prep classes in the fall and spring.

    Q. What are the SAT Subject tests and do I need to take them? If so, when?

    There are SAT subject tests offered in many different academic subject areas. These tests are one hour long, and students can take up to three tests in one sitting. Approximately 200 colleges require or recommend these subject specific tests. Some schools require or recommend applicants submit scores from two SAT subject tests, and a handful of schools recommend three subject test scores be submitted. They tend to be required by the more selective colleges. As students create a college list in the junior year, they can then check college websites (generally under Admissions) to see if these tests are required. SAT subject tests are generally taken at the end of a student’s junior year.

    Q. Which test should I take: the ACT or the SAT? 

    Colleges accept both tests equally. Decide which test is best for you by trying a practice test in each.

    Q. What if I don’t have great test scores?  

    There are many schools who have opted to go “test optional” and will not consider test scores in the admissions process.  This is a good option for students who have other stats that are in the top 25% of a schools’ admission statistics but test scores are lower.  Here is a link to a list of test optional schools: