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Top tips for filling out the new college Common Application

4. Testing. If you are applying to “test optional” schools you do not have to complete this. Otherwise you need to report your SAT and ACT scores. You can also report scores on AP, IB and SAT subject tests here. The new Common App asks you how many times you have taken each test. It is fine to say two or three times. The app then creates a box for you to report the scores for each time. If there is a date you don’t want to report, then don’t list it among the times you took the test.

5. Activities. This is your opportunity to explain how you spend your time outside of school. Don’t leave this section blank. List clubs, community service, sports and hobbies here. It is fine to list family obligations and work. If you like to read then list that as “academic” and describe what you like to read. You can only list up to 10 activities, so choose wisely.

6. Personal Essay. Five essay topics are listed from which you have to select one. Write an essay (650-word limit) then copy and paste it. In the “disciplinary history” section you have to answer whether you have been in trouble at school and with the law. They don’t expect detentions or tardiness listed. Then complete the “required explanation” section.

7. Additional Information Section. This is where you can explain (650-word limit) a situation you feel the colleges need to know about you including an illness in the family or moving frequently. Also this is where you can talk about something unique that doesn’t fit elsewhere in the application.

The new Common App is more user-friendly. The one surprise is that you cannot use print preview on this version until you are ready to submit. So get going, check yourself frequently and enjoy!

Maria Badami, MS is a college consultant with College Directions of CNY. 7030 East Genesee St. Fayetteville, NY 13066. 243-6658. collegedirectionscny@gmail.com.

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