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College: Planning, Application Process, and Testing



Freshman Year

  • Get acquainted with your counselor, your resource person while in high school.
  • Plan an activities schedule that may include participation in one or more: athletics, drama, music, student government, school-related activities, job, and community service ​​​​​​(Begin to focus on just a few to do in-depth). 
  • Begin to think about, talk about, ask questions about specific colleges.
  • Develop strong work habits; if necessary obtain tutoring.
  • Investigate your eligibility for Honors and Advanced Placement courses for your Sophomore year.
  • Visit the school’s College & Career Center, located in room AD 241, to learn about the information available there.
  • Study diligently to maintain the highest marks possible.
  • Know your Social Security Number.


Sophomore Year

  • Keep a strong relationship with your counselor and stay informed.
  • Take difficult courses in the areas in which you excel.  
  • Maintain strong study habits to achieve your maximum potential.  
  • Begin to study college and vocational catalogs, guides and related reference materials.  
  • Take the FREE Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) in October at SRHS.  
  • Investigate your eligibility for Honors and Advanced Placement courses for Junior year.  
  • Consider summer work experience.  
  • If you have not yet found an extracurricular activity at SRHS, investigate the possibilities that are available and get involved in some way to compliment your academic growth.  


Junior Year

  • Attend SRHS College Night for Juniors with your parents
  • Take the FREE PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) in October at SRHS.
  • Make it your responsibility to listen and read the daily bulletin and the CCC newsletter emails for announcements of college and vocational school representatives’ visits to campus, events, and other important information.
  • Check the requirements/costs of attending various colleges.
  • Visit the campus or campuses of your choice during school breaks. 
  • Take the SAT Reasoning or ACT with writing/SAT Subject Tests in Spring of your Junior year. There are review courses available, study booklets, practice tests, free online resources.
  • Investigate your eligibility for Honors, and AP (Advanced Placement) courses in your Senior year.
  • Take the ASVAB test if you’re interested in the possibility of joining the military.


Senior Year

  • Take SAT Reasoning (or ACT with Writing) and SAT Subject Tests for the school(s) to which you wish to apply no later than the December test date.
  • Work diligently on current studies, as colleges are particularly interested in students maintaining rigorous academic discipline in the Senior year.
  • Obtain college application forms by applying online at official websites: For the University of California go to For California State University go to Send for other application forms on your own. Complete and submit all applications BEFORE THE DEADLINE DATES (Nov. 30th for BOTH UC/CSU).  
  • Request transcripts be sent to Colleges. The first three are free with a fee of $3.00 for each additional transcript; a $5.00 fee for former students.  
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teachers if specified on college and scholarship applications. Remember to give your teachers and your counselor at least three weeks advance notice and to have your Autobiographical Sketch completed through Naviance, by their deadlines. This provides your recommender with more information about you. 
  • Attend all college information sessions as announced in the bulletin.  
  • Apply for financial aid if eligible.  
  • Attend Financial Aid Information Night (in October).  
  • Keep a record of what college admissions procedures you have completed; keep your counselor informed as you formulate plans or revise them.  
  • If qualified, take Advanced Placement Exams.
  • Take the ASVAB if interested in the possibility of joining the military.
  • Be sure to complete Senior Survey (in May). It helps us keep track of scholarships and college acceptances as well as notifies the Counseling Office where to send your Final Transcript.



UC/ CSU Filling periods

California State University October 1st - November 30th (Due to Covid-19, dates vary)

University of California - November 1st - November 30th (Due to Covid-19, dates vary)

For Private Universities- Check the individual application dates, deadlines, and enrollment requirements.

Common application: is used for undergraduate admission to many private and out-of-state universities. 

Community Colleges in California -  Students can apply up until a few weeks before classes start. Check the individual college website for a link to their application.


Autobiographical Sketch

Counselors will use your autobiographical sketch  to learn more about you and it will also help them write your letter of recommendation 

Autobiographical Sketch Form


Requesting Letters of Recomendation from Counselors/ Secondary school reports

It is your responsibility to provide all materials to your counselor by November 15th or at least 3 weeks prior to your first college application due date.

  • complete an autobiographical sketch as soon as possible
  • Speak with your teachers about writing your letters of recommendation early - do not wait!

Make sure that you give your counselor all required materials or he/she will not be able to submit the materials on time. Required documents usually include:

  • Secondary school report (no transcript request necessary) 
  • Midyear report (please submit these along with the secondary school report)

*Please see the counseling office for further information.*


Transcript Requests

To request a transcript please complete a transcript request form in the counseling office.

Current Students:

  • The first 3 transcripts requested are free
  • All scholarship transcripts are free for current SRHS students
  • Additional transcripts cost $3 each
  • You will be billed for transcripts at the end of the school year.

Former Students:

  • Transcripts cost $5 each
  • Transcripts and enrollment records for immigration deferral fillings cost $10.00
  • Payable by money order or cash only.
  • Complete a transcript request form

*For additional information please contact the registrar

Donni Jo Pipkin


The San Rafael High School CEEB Code is 


 This code is required for college entrance testing, financial aid forms, and on college applications



Free Preparation online at:



  • Have 2- #2 pencils and a soft eraser
  • Have your admissions ticket and acceptable photo ID
  • Bring snacks
  • Bring a calculator
  • Be well-rested and ready early.
  • Print out directions if unsure of the location



  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the test location
  • No cell phone use while in the test center
  • Be sure to test at the test center that is indicated on your ticket
  • Use the breaks to eat or drink snacks and to relax
  • Pace yourself during the test


Admissions testing is needed for:


Junior/Community Colleges 

 * No Tests are required to register for and take community college classes. 


California State University System - Requires either the SAT or ACT as part of the eligibility index calculation. This requirement is suspended for the Fall 2020 applications. 

  • It will state in some of the CSU information that: "If you have at least a  3.0 Weighted GPA in your A-G classes, you do not need to take the ACT or SAT tests. This is correct but not taking either the SAT or ACT test will put you at a strong disadvantage for going beyond being eligible and becoming competitive.
  • Either the SAT and the  ACT are counted equally by the CSU campuses. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo prefers the ACT.
  • The writing portion is optional on the ACT and SAT. Still, you might consider taking the writing portion because it is required by some private and out of state colleges. Nevertheless, the writing score is NOT calculated in the index formula.
  • Feewaivers are available for low-moderate income students. To obtain a waiver visit the Counseling Office.You must sign-up for the regular registration date in order to use the fee waiver, you may not use them if you sign-up for late registration.
  • The CSU system will take the best portion from various sittings to calculate your index.
  • CSU's institutional code for all campuses is 3594.
  • Cal Poly SLO, SJSU & SDSU requires you to finish your testing by the end of Oct/early Nov.


University of California System - Requires either the SAT or ACT as part of the eligibility index calculation. This requirement is suspended for the Fall 2020 applications. 


Some majors, at some UC's, such as Engineering and other sciences recommend two SAT II's in different subject areas, usually math and science. 

  • UC will take the best single sitting score for purposes of determining eligibility.
  • It is advisable to complete your testing by Oct if possible.
  • You are not able to take the SAT test and the Subject Tests on the same day. You may take 3-one hour Subject Tests on the same day.
  • You may want to take some Subject Tests at the end of your junior year in subjects that you did well in, especially if it is an honor or AP class.
  • You are not penalized for taking multiple tests, UC will take the best single sitting of your SAT or ACT, and your best two subject test scores.
  • Fee waivers are available from the Counseling Dept for the test-taking fees. You must register during the regular registration period to use the waivers, you may not use them if registering during the late registration.


Private/Independent Colleges -  in most cases require either the SAT or the ACT test. A handful may require the SAT II Subject Tests. It is college-specific as to whether they take the best score from one sitting or the best portions from multiple sittings or whether they require any Subject Tests. Check with each individual school's policy.

  • There will also be school-specific deadlines for completing your testing so it will be important to check with each school's policy and plan your testing schedule accordingly.

Proctored Practice Tests SAT, PSAT, ACT, Subject Tests in Marin at Compass, 700 Larkspur Landing Cir, Ste, 235.

RSVP by calling 1-800-620-6250

  • PSAT:  The PSAT is offered for free at SRHS mid-October, and all sophomores and juniors are required to take it. The score from the junior testing will be used to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholars and Hispanic Scholarship.  Note: The PSAT will reflect the changes to the SAT I except that it will not include an essay. Students register for the PSAT in the Counseling Office beginning October 1st.  The last day to register is two days prior to the exam and generally costs approx. $25.  Alternative test dates, other than SRHS's, may be available, first come first serve basis, at other locations such as Marin Catholic HS, Branson's, San Dominico, Marin Academy. Check with individual schools for correct information. FEE WAIVERS ARE AVAILABLE from Counseling.

    It is recommended that students try both the SAT and ACGT to determine which style T IS RECOMMENDED THAT STUDENTS TRY BOTH THE SAT AND ACT TO DETERMINE WHICH STYLE OF TEST THEY PERFORM BETTER ON.

    ACT:  The ACT is the American College Test and, for most colleges and universities, is an alternative to the SAT I.   The test is three hours  and sections cover math, reading and science reasoning. It test information that  you have learned as apposed to the SAT REasoning which requires applying knowledge. There is an optional 1/2 hour essay required by UC and some other colleges. For information concerning registration and testing dates, visit

    TOEFL:  The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)  is usually required by colleges for students who have been to high school in the USA for less than four years. In general, the test is given in August, Oct., Nov., Jan., March, and May. If a student's SAT Critical Reading score is not as high as the student might like, it may be advisable to take the TOEFL, even thougth it is not required,  to show the student's skills in the use of English as the test is different than the SAT or ACT. More information can be obtained at  The test has three sections: listening comprehension, structure and written expression, and reading comprehension.

  • It is generally agreed that students do better on standardized tests when they have prepared for them.  At minimum, it is recommended that students take a practice test a week or two before the test date in order to become familiar with the test instructions, the types of questions and how to pace oneself.

    It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to prepare for college tests.  There are books available in the College and Career Center as well as software programs that prep a student for the tests. One of the books most often recommended is 10 Real SATs, which is available at bookstores and the College Career Center.  Free online services are available at and .

    Day Before the Tests

    Gather together: photo ID, test admission ticket, 2 sharpened #2 pencils (no mechanical pencils) and a soft eraser, calculator w/ fresh batteries. Get a good nights sleep.

    Day of the Test

    Eat breakfast and bring a health snack and water. If you have to bring a cell phone, make sure it is turned completely off. All electronic devices brought to the test could be grounds for dismissal. Arrive at the test no later than 7:45. Allow extra time if you are uncertain of the test's location.

    During the Test

    Eat and drink during the breaks. Do easier questions first. Fill in entire circle with your pencil, use all the time available, go over questions you skipped or had trouble with if you have time at the end.

    Free/very low cost practice tests throughout the county by major SAT/ACT prep companies:, ,