Does my daughter need to take the ACT and SAT?

It all depends on where she applies to college. Nothing about the ACT and SAT exams is equal; it’s like comparing apples and oranges. I think that students should take full-length ACT and SAT practice exams. Taking both practice tests allows students to see which exam best suits their skills. For example, many students “do not like” the science section of the ACT; when these students complete a practice test, studying ahead of time is important. You are welcome to have your daughter take a practice test at our office.

Is it true that colleges use SAT Subject Test scores instead of ACT scores?

Yes, this applies to many colleges. However, emailing all colleges you are applying to and getting answers in writing is best. SAT Subject Tests are a big deal, and most students take more than three. My rule of thumb is to take the SAT Subject Test if it’s offered for any subject you currently are taking and excelling at.

Do you think the SAT is more coachable than the ACT?

There is no way for me to answer this question because, again, we are comparing apples and oranges. Take a practice ACT and SAT test. I will be glad to review the scores with you and we can then talk about the best test prep. Be sure you are taking the exam most geared toward your particular skill set because test prep is costly. Also, if your family is in a financial bind, I will be more than happy to help with some scholarship assistance.

What do you think of college rankings?

I think they are absurd. Many organizations and publications provide college rankings, including Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. Talking with teenagers and adults who are students or faculty at schools that hold your interest is the best way to learn about a college.

I am reviewing numerous college-related books that have been published this year, but instead of feeling more informed, I am at a loss. My daughter is a junior and she says it is important to plan now. Is this true and does she need to take immediate action?

Your daughter is correct; the earlier she makes plans, the better. As an independent college counselor, I start working with students in the ninth grade. This year, however, I am working with some students who began preparing for college in the 12th grade. Starting college counseling during the senior year is really late. Twenty-five years of college counseling have taught me that completing an application takes 10-25 hours.

Many private high schools require that all college applications to be submitted by Nov. 1 and many universities, including the University of Florida, have set the application deadline at Nov. 1. Your daughter will need to complete various tasks, including composing a resume, writing several college admission essays, fulfilling community service hours, selecting individuals who will write letters of recommendation and making a list of all of the colleges that really grab her attention.

Toby Rose is president of Toby Rose’s College Prep. She is an independent college counselor, was a Dade County Outstanding Teacher and served as chairperson of the Dade County School Board Academic Advisory Committee. Rose may be contacted by calling 305-238-7737, by email at <tobyrose19@> or via the Internet at <>.

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