In the previous chapter of the Ultimate College Prep Guide, we talked about the college essay and tackled both the Common App personal statement and the supplementary application essays. We focused on how the personal statement should be personal and focused on what makes your student stand out, while the supplemental essays should be school-specific.

In this chapter, we’ll talk about all the other, more discretionary things that can make your student’s application even stronger.

These include the SAT Subject Tests, college interviews, extracurricular activities, and the mid-year update. While some of these are longer-term commitments, others can be added during the college application process to help ensure your student stands out.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this chapter:

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests are one-hour tests that focus on specific subjects like chemistry or English and give your student a chance to demonstrate deeper knowledge and mastery of particular subjects.

Most colleges don’t require these tests as part of your student’s application, but most will recommend it as a supplement. Make sure to look up the testing requirements for any school your student is applying for to determine whether they are required to take it.

Taking the SAT Subject Tests is a great way for your student to prove their proficiency in certain subjects and show their commitment to success. We recommend identifying two or three subjects that your student thinks they can excel in and taking the time to study for an take these exams. There is a total of 20 subjects to choose from.

How to Prepare for the SAT Subject Tests

While the Subject Tests aren’t required like the SAT, your student should take these tests just as seriously. Work with your student to set up a study plan to make sure they’re prepared for test day.

  • Find study materials. The Subject Tests are designed to mirror material that your student would learn in their classroom. However, it’s possible that they may not have covered a specific topic before their test date. By doing practice questions and practice exams, your student will get an idea of the type of questions and subjects that will be covered.
  • Develop a study plan, and stick to it! Just like with the SAT, developing a scheduled study plan will help keep your student on track and make sure they’re confident come test day. Even just setting aside 20 minutes a day to study new material or do a few practice questions will help set them up for success.
  • Focus on exam topics your student is least familiar with. Class textbooks are a great way to get a handle on subjects that haven’t been covered in class yet. Your student may even be able to ask their teacher questions about specific topics if they mention that they need to prepare for the SAT Subject Tests.

College Interviews

During the college application process, your student has the option to have an interview with an admissions representative or alumnus as part of the application. While few colleges actually require an interview, many will offer (and recommend!) evaluative or informational interviews to interested students.

The interview is a great opportunity for your student to get their questions about the school answered, while also showing a bit