Test scores: The ACT OR SAT (generally interchangeable). Within this category, the kinds of testing, frequency of testing, and additional testing will vary from school to school, program to program, major to major, and by admissions acceptance rate and individual applicant profile. To this end, some students will need to take additional SAT testing in specific subject matter, called the SAT 2s. Students may or may not take exams more than once.
Academic Record: This is, by far, the most important piece of the equation. This is the high school transcript, having at least met basic college prep criteria. For more competitive programs/schools, there will be additional requirements.
Recommendations: Letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, bosses or others who can speak to your talents and abilities. Schools will have varying parameters around who is acceptable.
Extracurricular Profile: This means what activities a student engages in outside of required academic school hours. Again, will vary from school to school, program to program, major to major, and by admissions acceptance rate and individual applicant profile.
Admission Essay(s): Some schools actually do not require an essay. Usually these schools are not selective and/or simply have a MASSIVE number of applicants. But many, many schools do require essay(s) and this is a critical piece of the application.
Admission Interviews: Some schools do not offer interviews, some require them, and some offer them on request. Like the essay, it’s a change for the student’s personality to shine through and voice to be heard.
The college admissions process is a highly detailed and sometimes stressful process, but stay organized and try to remember that all of these materials are required because people (the school’s admissions committee) want to get to know you.