O'Dea High School

College Counseling

O’Dea High School is a college preparatory high school and therefore we assume that all of our students will attend college. Applying to college is a process that begins freshman year and ends with matriculation at a college that is the best fit for each individual student. The counseling department is committed to supporting the student and his family in this process.

College Application Information – Class of 2022

The Road to College Admissions

The Road to College Admissions

Each year the Counseling department publishes a comprehensive guide for students and their families. Part I is intended for spring of sophomore year through spring of junior year. Part II is a continuation of Part I that will carry the student from the end of junior year through senior year.


Academic Profile - Class of 2022 Colleges and Universities

Colleges & Universities

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the college application process is deciding where to apply. In the United States, there are thousands of universities, colleges and community colleges, both public and private. It is your task to determine what type of school is right for you based on your interests, expectations, abilities and needs. The following lists are examples of classifications of four-year colleges that are frequently used in college guide books. These are not comprehensive lists but they reflect schools that would be easily recognizable by families in the Northwest.

Criteria to Consider in College Selection

As you imagine the perfect college, remember that there is not one perfect college that is perfect for everyone. Everyone has different expectations and needs for their college experience. Your goal is to discover the college that meets your own requirements. You must find the perfect college for YOU. In order to do this you must examine the many different aspects of college. The following is an attempt to help you do this in an organized, systematic way.

Two Year Institutions

Two year post-secondary educational institutions offer certificate programs (less than two years of work), professional technical programs (terminal associate degrees), and transfer programs (Associate of Arts and Associate of Sciences degrees).

Community Colleges (two year public institutions) have always answered the needs of the local communities. The first community college was founded in 1901 in Joliet, Illinois. After World War II, there was a surge in the demand for higher education to feed the need for a more skilled workforce. In the 1960’s, the number of community colleges once again surged when the Baby Boomers began their post secondary education. The number of community colleges in the United States now exceeds 1600 and has continued a constant increase since the 1960’s.

Each community college is an independent institution that has its own unique characteristics. All of the public community colleges have open admission policies. They accept any applicant who is a high school graduate. Each community college will then test each student for placement in English and math. It is important to contact the admissions department to obtain information on registration for these placement tests. Full time tuition usually averages $2800 per year, less than half of the tuition charged by the public 4-year institutions. Course offerings allow students to enroll in day or evening classes. The predominate difference between community colleges and four-year colleges is that community colleges offer Associate of Arts and Science (AA/AS) degrees upon completion of their program. Associate degrees can be in traditional academic subjects or in career-oriented/vocational fields. Examples of community colleges include Bellevue Community College, and Seattle Central Community College.

Within the state of Washington, it has become increasingly easy for a student who has received an AA/AS degree at one of the state’s community colleges to transfer into a public four-year university with junior year standing. This guaranteed transfer program is called the Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA). In order to transfer, a student must meet specific minimum requirements that are established by the state of Washington, the community colleges and the universities. The DTA allows a student to graduate from an accredited public or private university with a bachelor’s degree in an additional two years. The overall cost of a college education is significantly reduced by this course of study.

The exception to the DTA is the University of Washington. Students who have completed their AA/AS degrees at community colleges, apply to the UW as transfer students. Their applications are considered in the pool of applicants who have completed some college credit courses at four-year colleges but they are not guaranteed admittance to the UW as in the Direct Transfer Agreement.

Often students who have not done well academically in high school view the two year community college as an alternative to a four-year college experience. We feel that community college students who are the most successful in ultimately obtaining a bachelors degree from a four year institution are those who are more independent and self sufficient than the average freshman at a four year college. Students at community colleges must be very organized because they must do everything for themselves. They must remember to register for classes, attend classes and take a full load in order to receive their Associates degree in two years. It is very easy to drop classes or just register for less than a full load. Students often live at home or in apartments so they do not make a strong social connection to the community college campus. It is easy to get a full time job, gradually decrease your course load, and ultimately stop going to school. It takes a very driven, organized, mature student to maintain full time status at community college. Students and parents should be aware of these “pitfalls” when considering community college as an option.

Private Two Year Institutions are those that are not funded by state governments but receive financial support from tuition. These schools, like their four year counterparts, are much more expensive than the public institutions. Financial Aid is available to students just as it is for four-year students. These institutions frequently have direct transfer arrangements with prestigious four-year institutions. Graduates can matriculate at four year colleges for which they may not have been qualified for admission right after high school. Some of the advantages of these schools are the class size and individual attention students receive. They often offer help with study skills and for students with learning disabilities they can be a transition between high school and a four-year college. Another advantage is that they often have student housing which a lot of public community colleges lack. Examples of these schools are Landmark College in Virginia and Marymount College in California.

Proprietary Schools (For Profit) are institutions run by private individuals or corporations. These schools offer both non-degree vocational training and degrees. These schools are increasing across the country due to the demand in the fields of healthcare, computer technology, business and criminal justice. The goal of these schools is to educate a person for a specific career. Examples of these schools would be ITT Technology and Bryman Institute.

Four Year Institutions

There are over 2500 four-year post secondary educational institutions in the United States. They vary tremendously by size, location, cost and academic rigor. They all award bachelor degrees in major fields of study chosen by the students.

Publicly funded state four year universities are fully accredited institutions that award bachelor degrees to students who have successfully completed the core curriculum requirements and fulfilled the major requirements for a specific academic subject. The public universities in the state of Washington are: the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University and The Evergreen State College.

For state residents, the cost of tuition, room/board and fees averages approximately $20,000 per year at the Washington universities. These costs for non-residents average $35,000 per year.

Private colleges and universities receive most of their funding from non-governmental sources and offer an academic experience comparable to public universities. Some reasons students choose to attend private schools include: academic reputation, religious affiliation, size, location, or course of study. The cost of tuition, room/board, and fees can range from $20,000 to $75,000 per year. These costs, at first glance, are staggering but many private colleges have financial aid departments that are capable of meeting some or all of the financial needs of their students. Examples of private universities are Gonzaga University, the University of Portland, St. Martin’s University, and Seattle University.

Size of the College or University

Colleges and universities range in size from the very small liberal arts college to the very large public university. We are very fortunate that we live in an area where several different sizes of colleges are located. Early in the college search process, it would be wise to visit these local colleges, even if you are not interested in attending the school so that you can get a feel for the differences between the schools. This will help to narrow down the size of college that will be the best learning and social environment for you.

Academic Atmosphere

The academic environment can differ markedly between colleges that may be similar in other aspects. The academics can be challenging, intense, relaxed, supportive, large classes, small classes, taught by professors, taught by graduate students. Some colleges, especially smaller to medium sized liberal arts colleges, have a reputation for the high quality of the education they offer. These colleges often combine a rigorous core curriculum with outstanding academic departments. If you are interested in pursuing a specialized professional education, such as engineering, architecture or nursing, it may be necessary to choose a college that has a strong program in the field. Most high school students don’t know what major they will choose in college so a broad liberal arts program is ideal. Other academic considerations may include honors programs and study abroad programs.

Social Atmosphere

Some of the elements to consider in the social atmosphere are:

  • Residential campus or commuter campus—If the campus is deserted on the weekends there will not be many social activities on campus. This could be difficult for a student who has come to college from a long distance and cannot return home every weekend.
  • Small, close-knit college town or a large metropolitan center—In the smaller community the college will be the center of all of the social activity for the entire community. The large metropolitan area may have more off-campus activities for students.
  • Politically active or politics are not a concern—If involvement in a political campaign is an interest, this would be an important consideration.
  • Strong Greek system or no Greek system—If the Greek system is very strong, often the center of social activities on campus will be in the fraternities and sororities.
  • Most students come from a local region or students come from a more “national” population
  • Single sex or coed student population
  • Diverse or similar student population


Another important factor to consider is the location and type of living arrangements you will have during your college years. The first determination you will need to make is whether you want to live at home or on campus. Even if you decide to go to a college in Seattle, we recommend, if it is financially possible, that you live on-campus. When a freshman lives off-campus he misses much of the total college experience that takes place, spontaneously, in the dorms. It is much more difficult to feel totally connected to a campus if you commute from home.

Dormitories can be single sex, coeducational, by college major, alcohol free, smoking or non-smoking, freshmen only, upper-class only. It is important to find out how many years housing is guaranteed because it is frequently more expensive to live off-campus. Also, if it is necessary to live off-campus, find out if the college helps to find such housing.


One of the most important considerations may be the cost of your college education. The most selective colleges are also the most expensive. However, it is important to realize there is a wide range of financial aid options and your goal is to find a college where you will receive the education that you desire. The financial aid package that the colleges offer will include a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans.

Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities

If participation in or attending athletic events is important to you, you should be aware that there are many different levels of sports to consider. Participation in varsity sports will be dependent on your ability and recruitment by the college coaches. When considering your ability to become involved in an intercollegiate athletic program, especially if you might like to pursue the possibility of being recruited, it is important that you see your counselor, your coach and the athletic director. Participation in intramural sports is voluntary and can be the most fun you ever have in a sport. To some students it is important to attend a Division I college that has a full complement of athletic teams. To other students, athletic teams hold no interest for them at all.

If you are interested in continuing any of your co-curricular activities, you should investigate their availability on each campus you are considering. If the club or activity is not currently on-campus, most colleges will encourage you to start a new group. Many college representatives are eager to discuss the student organizations that are on campus and their purpose or mission as a student group.

Geographic Location and Surrounding Community

Some of the things to consider in this category are the size of the city, area of the country, climate, recreational activities in the area, and how close or far from home you want to be. Colleges are located in metropolitan, suburban, small towns and rural locations in the Northwest, South, Midwest, East Coast, and West Coast. If one of your important activities is dependent on a particular environment, and if it is an activity you wish to continue, you will need to find a college close to such an area. And of course, if you want to stay close to home you will have already limited your search area. As with all of these criteria, there are advantages and disadvantages to each choice. It is up to you to determine which choices are the best fit for your individual needs.

Specific/Unique College Applications

The University of Washington

The University of Washington admissions committee reads every application in its entirety. They employ a holistic review of applications and do not utilize the Admission Index system that some of the other public universities in Washington use to determine admissibility. In addition, the University of Washington does not require initial transcripts. The student will report in his application the classes he completed and the grades he earned in those classes. In order to complete this section of the application, your counselor will give you an unofficial transcript that you can use to grid in the classes that you took at O’Dea High School.  The UW accepts the Coalition Application only.  The application to the University of Washington opens on October 1st, and is due on November 15th.  The will not accept any late applications.  This is a firm deadline so make sure that you submit your applications well before November 15th.

The University of Washington does not accept any letters of recommendation so the answers that you compose for their essay questions are the only way that you will have to convey to the Admissions Committee who you are as a person. These essays are extremely important in all applications but they have a significant value in the U of Washington process. Even though some of the questions may say that they are optional, you should answer all of the questions on the University of Washington application.

The University of Washington requires the SAT Test or the ACT test.  The UW does not require the writing section for either the SAT or ACT.  They also do not require any of the SAT Subject Tests. You must have your test scores sent from the testing company to the University of Washington or your application will not be complete.

If you are accepted to the University of Washington and choose to attend there, we will send a final transcript to them. At that time, your application is verified by cross-checking with your final transcript. Any dishonesty in reporting grades will result in the offer of admission being rescinded. You will receive that notification during the summer and it will not allow time for you to re-apply to any other college so complete the information on the application with great care.

There is an additional application process when you are applying to the Honors program at the University of Washington. They do require letters of recommendation and an initial transcript. Admission to this program is highly competitive. The application due date for the honors program is November 15th. 

United States Military Academies

US Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80840

US Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland 21402

US Military Academy
West Point
606 Thayer Road
West Point, NY 10996

Coast Guard Academy
15 Mohegan Lane
New London, Ct. 06320

US Merchant Marine Academy
300 Steamboat Road
Kings Point, NY 11024

The application procedures for The United States Military Academies differ among the academies but these general guidelines should assist you with the admission process. The entire process is much more involved and should begin in the spring of your junior year. Your first step should be to go to the websites and request information. This will notify the Academy of your interest and you will be included in their mailing list. The application process should be started in spring of your junior year. You must request a nomination from your State Senators and from the Congressional Representative for your district for all of the academies except the Coast Guard Academy.

If you receive an academy appointment, you will receive a full scholarship for tuition, room & board, and any fees. You will also receive a stipend each month to meet the expenses of books, supplies, clothing and personal expenses. In exchange, you will have a military obligation after graduation from the academy. If you are seriously interested in applying to any of the academies, you should investigate the summer programs for high school students that are available on each academy’s campus. If you have an interest in attending any of the military academies, please see your counselor for further information.


Applying for Financial Aid - FAFSA

Each year O’Dea High School’s counseling department hosts a College Financial Aid Night for the parents of current senior students.  Below you will find links to the handouts from this years’ presentation.

Financial Aid Glossary

Federal Student Aid 

Who is my “Parent” When I Fill Out the FAFSA?

CSS Profile Student Guide

IRS Data Retrieval – FAQS

2018 College Financial Aid Powerpoint Presentation

College Visits

Information for College Representatives

O’Dea schedules visits throughout the school day from mid September through November. We do not have college visits in the spring. In compliance with our school policy, O’Dea only allows NOT FOR PROFIT institutions to schedule visits. Please do not sign up for a college visit if your institution is FOR PROFIT.

O’Dea High School is using RepVisits for scheduling.  Please log in and schedule a day/time that works for your schedule.

Information for Students

Every year we are very fortunate to have many college representatives from colleges all over the United States travel to O’Dea to speak with our juniors and seniors.  Students learn about these visits in Naviance Student, daily announcements, posted weekly calendars of the visits, O’Dea Family newsletters, and posters from the colleges on the bulletin board outside the Counseling Department.  A student must register for these visits in Naviance Student in the Colleges section, then go to Research Colleges and select College Visits.  You can then scroll through the list of colleges that will visit O’Dea and sign up.  You will receive an email through Naviance Student to remind you of the date and time of the visit.  You must then have the teacher for the class that you will miss, sign a Permission Form (these are in the lobby of Counseling).  After the form is completed, you return it to the Counseling office.  All of this must be completed by the end of school the day before the scheduled visit.  Attendance at these meetings is a privilege so it is always dependent on final approval from the Counseling Department.

College Representative Visit Schedule 

If you are interested in a school, it is very important that you attend the meeting with the college representative when he/she comes to O’Dea. Not only do they record who attended the meeting, but they are often the first people who will review your application folder. These meetings should be taken very seriously and the college representative should be treated with utmost respect. You should come prepared with any questions concerning the college, as the college representatives are a wealth of information.

College Rep Visit Schedule

College Visit Form

College Application Process

College Application Process

The college application process is very time consuming but if it is done in an organized, step-by-step manner it can be a very rewarding experience. The most important thing to remember is that the entire process cannot be done in a short period of time or at a single “sitting”. You must complete it in several very specific steps that require varying amounts of time to accomplish. One of the most crucial details of the application process is to learn and observe the due dates of the colleges to which you are applying. In addition, O’Dea requires that the senior student complete all of the required procedures for his college applications, by December 1. Colleges determine their application deadlines according to the number of applications they receive and the type of admissions procedures they utilize. The standard admission processes are Rolling, Regular, Early Action, Single Choice Early Action and Early Decision.

Rolling Admission Process

If a college uses a Rolling Admission Process, the admission office begins accepting applications after a specific date, which is usually in October or November. They begin reviewing these applications immediately and make admission decisions at that time. This continues until their final application deadline or until their freshman class is filled. In this process, there is a continual flow of applications and admission decisions made over the course of several months. In this process, it is important to submit applications as early as possible. Admission to the freshman class is on a first come-first served basis. Washington State University uses the Rolling Admission process.

Regular Admission Process

The Regular Admission Process differs from the Rolling process in that admission committees do not review any applications until the final deadline has passed. After the final deadline, all the applications are reviewed and the acceptance or denial letters are all sent at one time. The deadline for applications in this process is usually late December to February 1st, with applicants being notified in early April. The University of Notre Dame is an example of a college that uses the Regular Admission process.

Early Action/Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision

The Early Action/Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision processes are usually practiced only at highly selective private colleges and universities. All of these colleges also have a regular admission process. The deadline for a student’s completed application is usually early November. The advantage of this option is that an applicant can affirm his strong desire to matriculate at a particular college by applying early. Admissions committees understand that applicants who apply early have decided that their college is the applicant’s first choice school. Applicants should be confident that their application is strong in all aspects, especially test scores and grades. If you have any question about the strength of your application, you should see your counselor and discuss the possibility of this option. Decision letters in this process are mailed in late December or early January. A student who applies using any of the Early plans, must also apply to other colleges in case he is not accepted or is deferred to the regular admission pool. Most colleges do not have Early Action, Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision or Early Decision. There are distinct differences between Early Action, Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision and Early Decision. You must notify your counselor if you are applying Early Action/Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision as soon as you have made that decision.

Early Action

Early Action (EA) is non-binding, which means if an applicant is accepted, he has until May 1st to decide if he will enroll in that college. A student can apply to more than one college as an Early Action candidate. He is able to also apply to any number of colleges using either rolling or regular admission processes. The University of Notre Dame has an Early Action program.

Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision

Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision is exactly the same as Early Action except a student may apply to only that one college/university as a Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision candidate. He may submit as many other applications as wants using Rolling Admissions or Regular Admissions but he can only apply to that one college early if it utilizes Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision. Stanford University has a Restrictive Early Action/Early Decision program.

Early Decision

Early Decision (ED) is a binding contract with one college. This means that if a student applies to a college using the Early Decision procedure and the college accepts the student, he must immediately accept the offer of admission. He is required to withdraw all other college applications. Because this is a binding contract, you may only apply to one college as an Early Decision applicant. We recommend that only the very strongest candidates, both academically and financially, apply to a school under the Early Decision process. The University of Puget Sound is an example of a college that uses the early decision process.

Deferred Process

Colleges can defer your application from their Early Action or Early Decision pool to the Regular decision group. This means that your application will be considered with all of the other applications the college receives by its due date. You will receive notification from the college in late December or early January that they have decided to defer you to the regular pool. After evaluation in the regular pool, you will receive the college’s decision in late March or early April along with the other candidates in the Regular pool.



College Athletics

College Athletics

College offers the opportunity to continue participation in athletics at many different levels. Colleges have a wide variety of avenues for student-athletes to develop their skills, from well-known Division I teams to campus intramural teams. Intramural and club sports can be the most athletic fun a student will ever have. Participation in athletics during college can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience. By carefully evaluating their abilities and potential level of participation, athletes can determine the most appropriate type of team sport and level of competition. To help the student and his family sort through the many different options, we are presenting some topics for your consideration.


“Choose the school, not the team” is advice that we strongly support. It is easy to be dazzled by an exciting sports program or a “great” coach. However, remember the ultimate reason that you are attending college is for the academic programs. Why academics?? Consider what remains if a career-ending injury occurs, the “great” coach leaves, or the exciting team is a bad fit. Academic programs remain constant. A good strategy for student-athletes is to consider the sport as just one aspect in their college search.

Student Athletes who are being recruited to play in college will have two groups of colleges that they will be considering. The first is the group of colleges that are pursuing him to play a sport on their campus. The coaches of the sport control this group and the student has very little control. If a coach is interested in the student, the college is on the list but when the coach no longer has the student on his list of recruits, the college is off the list. The second group of colleges is totally in the control of the student. This list of colleges is one that has colleges that the student is interested in attending even if he is not going to play the sport. Some of these schools may also be on the Coach-controlled list but these schools will remain even if the coach “drops” the student. Some athletes do not develop this second group of colleges and find themselves without a college to attend because they have been dropped by all of the colleges that initially recruited them. It is crucial that O’Dea athletes follow all of the required procedures and apply to colleges that they would be happy to attend even if they are not recruited to play their sport on the campus. Students can always try to walk-on to a team at a college they love but only if they have applied and been accepted. Don’t count on “the full ride scholarship” to play your sport and then end up without a college to attend.

One of the most important factors in assessing the student’s college athletic options is to honestly evaluate his skills and interests. Athletes who overrate their abilities may be set up for disappointment. The coach of the O’Dea team or the select team coach may be able to help determine which division best reflects the student’s abilities. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has the following divisions:

Division I is the most competitive, has the highest profile and offers athletic scholarships. The University of Washington and Washington State University are Division I schools.

Division II is the second tier of schools and has an above average level of competition, a somewhat lower athletic profile and fewer scholarship opportunities. Examples of Division II schools are Central Washington University and Western Washington University.

Division III is made up of smaller colleges, which range from division powerhouses to no-cut teams. Athletes in this division are students first, athletes second. There are no athletic scholarships. Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound are Division III schools.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is another athletic association. It began as a men’s basketball organization but has grown to include both men’s and women’s teams in many different sports. They do offer athletic scholarships. Examples of NAIA colleges include Carroll College and The Evergreen State College.

NCAA Regulations

Athletes who are considering Division I or II schools must fulfill all of the NCAA requirements by the time of graduation from O’Dea. The NCAA requires that athletes have completed a core curriculum of 16 core courses with a minimum grade point average (GPA) and a minimum SAT or ACT score. Athletes who do not meet these requirements may not be eligible to compete. There are many other NCAA regulations that are also involved in the recruiting process. These rules apply to both the student-athlete and to the colleges. It is imperative that the student and his family become knowledgeable about these rules as any transgression may jeopardize the student’s participation on the college team. All of this information is available on the NCAA Eligibility Center Website. You should print a copy of the Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete which is located on the NCAA website. It will give you specific information about the minimum high school academic requirements and the regulations that you must follow during the recruiting process.

All high school athletes who hope to compete at a Division I or II college program must submit a NCAA Initial Eligibility form in the spring of junior year. You must submit the data online: NCAA Initial Eligibility Form.  Your counselor will submit an official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center electronically once you complete the registration process.  You must also have the SAT or ACT send your test scores directly to the Eligibility Center from the testing company.

Questions? Please contact Joe Cronin.

Standardized Testing

Standardized Testing

The student is responsible for determining which tests each individual college or university requires for admission to their school. Most colleges and universities require standardized tests as part of the application process. Most O’Dea students will take the SAT Reasoning test at least two times and we recommend that the students also take the ACT test at least once. Standardized testing should begin in the winter or spring of junior year. The ideal situation is for students to complete all of their testing by the end of junior year.

The student must register for the tests directly with the testing companies. You may register for all of these tests online (www.collegeboard.com or www.act.org) , which is the most efficient way to register. We do receive a very limited number of paper forms from the testing companies if you do not have access to the online registration. It is very important for the student to pay close attention to the deadlines for submitting the registration forms. It is also important to carefully follow the directions for completion of the registration forms. Your name, birth date and social security number must all match with those on your permanent record at O’Dea and with the same information you submit on your college applications. If there is a discrepancy in any of this information, there will be a delay in entering the scores with the colleges.

If you complete the registration properly, including our high school code (481-130), your scores will be sent to us and entered into our database but they are not entered on your official transcript. We do not assume responsibility for the official reporting of the scores to colleges. You must request that the testing company send your scores to the colleges to which you are applying. 

Many colleges and universities require that the student have the testing companies send the official SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT reports directly to them. The University of Washington, Western Washington University and Washington State University require that test scores be sent directly to them by the testing services. 

We strongly encourage students to take both the ACT and SAT Reasoning Test during the winter and spring of their junior year. Students must complete all testing by October/November of their senior year. 

Sophomore Year

The PSAT (Preliminary SAT Test) is a two-hour test administered to all O’Dea sophomores and juniors in October. It is given at O’Dea on our testing day in October. The Counselors give the scores to the students as soon as we receive them, which is usually in late December or early January. Along with the scores, each student will receive his test booklet, which he can use to review those questions he answered incorrectly. This is a great place to start when a student begins to prepare for the SAT Test. The score report sheet itself thoroughly explains the meaning of the scores and extensive statistical data pertinent to national performance. The scores are reported on a scale of 20-80 points for the three test categories of Math, Critical Reading and Writing Skills. The scores for the PSAT tests are normed for sophomores and for juniors.

Junior Year

 All of the juniors take another PSAT test on our testing day in October. The PSAT test that students take in junior year is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The NMSQT determines a Selection Index score, which is the sum of the three test scores. By attaining a high “Selection Index” juniors may then qualify for National Merit Foundation recognition and scholarships. This places them in competition with all of the juniors in Washington who take the PSAT test.  The score range for each section is from 160-760 with a total range of 320-1520.

Example: Evidence Based Reading 560 + Math 620  = Selection Index 1180

For the class of 2016, the National Merit Foundation conferred the semi-finalist status on those with a Selection Index of 219 or better. The National Merit Foundation provides the counseling office with a new qualification number each year, usually by the end of summer. O’Dea semi-finalists are notified of their standing in late September.

Juniors will begin to take the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT in the winter and spring.


O’Dea High School CEEB code: 481-130

Register for SAT Test

The best way to register for these tests is online (SAT- www.collegeboard.org). You should register for a site that is close to your home or one with which you are familiar. You should register early as the sites fill very quickly. You will create an account that you will use to send scores and register for other tests. It is important to keep the username and password in a place that you can easily find for future use.

SAT-Score Choice

When a student registers for any SAT tests beginning with the March 2009 test, you will be offered the option of Score Choice. This new feature gives you the option to choose to send SAT scores by sitting (test date) and SAT Subject Test scores by individual test at no additional cost.. The CollegeBoard will send the scores from the entire SAT Test (critical reading, mathematics, and writing)—you can never choose to send scores of individual sections independently. If you do not choose this option, The CollegeBoard sends all of the scores from each testing time.

It is important that students realize that colleges set their own test requirements. These policies vary from college to college. The CollegeBoard will attempt to have a listing on their website that may clarify the individual college requirements. If you do not follow the college’s requirements, they may consider your application incomplete.

Most colleges consider a student’s best score so there is no disadvantage to sending all scores. Some colleges will select the student’s best section score (critical reading, math, writing) from different sittings (test dates) so it is an advantage to send all scores. For example, if a student had a better critical reading score when he took the test in March than when he took it in May, but his math score was better in May the college would use the March critical reading score but they would use the May math score.

O’Dea’s Counseling Department recommends that students send all of their scores to each college to which they intend to apply. Students should send their scores to all of their four “free” colleges at the time of each registration. There is no advantage to trying to “game” the system by trying to get better scores before you send any scores to colleges. This could cause a delay in evaluating your applications and your applications will be incomplete at some colleges if you have not sent them all of your scores. We strongly recommend that you do not use this option and that you send all of your scores to all of the colleges to which you are applying. 

Components of SAT Test

The SAT Test is composed of three separate sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Each section of the SAT will generate scores ranging from 200 to 800, so the total score ranges from 600 to 1600.

Evidence Based Reading

  • 65 minutes
  • Emphasis on critical thinking
  •  Long reading passages range from 500-800 words
  •  Short reading passages will be paragraphs of 100 words
  •  Vocabulary tested in context of reading passages


  • 35 minutes
  • Emphasis on grammar, usage and word choice
  • Multiple choice questions to identify sentence errors, to improve sentences and paragraphs
  • Essay writing to demonstrate ability to support a viewpoint or position on a topic


  •  80 minutes
  •  Graphing calculator use strongly recommended
  •  Ten questions require students to produce their own responses and enter into special grids on the answer sheet
  •  Algebra II included
  •  Emphasis on data interpretation and applied math questions


  •  Scores for each test range from 200 to 800
  •  Total score is the combination of each test score and the range can be from 600 to 1600
  •  Some colleges and universities use your best critical reading score and your best math score to determine your total score. You should check with the individual schools to ascertain their policy in this matter
  •  All of your test scores will be reported on the official CEEB report.
  •  There will not be a deduction for an incorrect answer so you should guess.

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests measure students’ abilities in selected subjects. Students should determine if the Subject Tests are required in the application process for the colleges to which they are interested in applying. Scores for each of the Subject Tests range from a low of 200 to a high of 800. Each Subject Test is one hour in length. The tests may be offered on the same day as the SAT Reasoning Test but you cannot take both the SAT Test and the SAT Subject Tests on the same day. Students may take as many as three SAT Subject Tests on the same day.

Many highly selective colleges require two or three of the SAT Subject Tests. Be sure to thoroughly investigate if the college requires these tests and if there are specific subject tests that they require. The best time in the school year to take the SAT Subject tests is in June of junior year after you have completed the course work for the selected subject/s.

ACT Registration

The easiest and most efficient way to register for the ACT Test is online at www.act.org. You will create an account that you will use to send scores and register for other tests. It is important to keep the username and password in a place that you can easily find for future use. You should register for a site that is close to your home or one with which you are familiar. You should register early as the sites fill very quickly. Students can register for the ACT Assessment Test or the ACT Assessment Plus Writing Test. Students who do not elect to take the Writing Test may take the ACT Assessment only. The optional Writing Test is administered after the rest of the ACT test has been completed. Most colleges require the Writing portion of the test so we strongly recommend that you take the ACT plus Writing so that if the ACT score is your highest, every college can use it. You should print out your admission ticket when prompted to do so during the registration process. You must bring that admission ticket with you on the day of the test.

O’Dea High School Code: 481-130

Composition of ACT Test

The ACT Assessment is designed to assess high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college level work. The tests cover four skill areas: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science Reasoning. All colleges accept either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT for admission. Students should check the colleges’ catalogs for specific standardized testing requirements.

The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and actual testing time is two hours and fifty-five minutes.

There are five scores for the ACT, one for each test area and a composite score, which is the average of the four individual scores. If the student chooses to take the optional writing test he will receive a combined English/Writing score. Each score can range from 1 to 36.

Composition of ACT Test Questions

English (25%)

  • Usage/Mechanics
    • Punctuation
    • Basic Grammar/Usage
    • Sentence Structure
  • Rhetorical Skills
    • Strategy
    • Organization
    • Style

Mathematics (25%)

  • Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Plane Geometry/Trigonometry

Reading (25%) 

  • Arts/Literature
    • Prose Fiction
    • Humanities
  • Social Studies/Sciences
    • History, Political Science
    • Biology, Chemistry
    • Physics, Physical Science

Science Reasoning (25%) 

  • Interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving skills required in Biology
  • Physical Sciences, Chemistry and Physics


  • Each test area will receive a score from 1-36
  • There are no deductions for incorrect answers, so you should answer every question
  • The composite score is the average of all four areas
  • If the optional writing test is taken, the score will be reported as English/Writing and will have a score of 1-36
    • The essay will be scored by two readers who will give scores of 1-6 each
    • The Writing sub score will range from 2-12
    • One to four descriptive comments about the essay’s strengths and weaknesses
  • The student can choose which ACT testing date to send to colleges.  For example, if the student took the ACT in April and October, he can send only the April scores if he chooses.

Test Day Preparation – SAT & ACT

When to Arrive 

Students who are registered should plan to arrive at the test center by 7:45a.m. on the day of the test. Testing starts about 8:00a.m and ends about 1:00p.m. There will be a short break at the end of each hour of testing time. You can eat or drink any snacks that you bring with you during the breaks.

What to Bring 

Students must bring:

Students may also bring a watch (without audible alarm) and a bag or backpack (to be kept under their seat).

Students are not allowed to bring anything else into the room. No food or drink is allowed during testing.

Fee Waivers

Fee waivers are available to high school juniors and seniors who cannot afford the SAT and ACT test fees. There are ACT fee waivers, which cover the cost of the basic fee and the writing fee if you choose to take the writing test. SAT Fee waivers cover the basic testing fees for the SAT Reasoning Test or the SAT Subject Tests and either the Questions and Answer Service or the Student Answer Services. Eligible students may use up to two SAT Reasoning fee waivers and up to two SAT Subject Tests fee waivers. The use of SAT or ACT fee waivers may qualify you for up to four college application fee waivers and a fee waiver for the NCAA Eligibility Center. Fee Waivers cover only the cost of the basic fee, the student must pay any standby, site change, date change, test change and late fees. Please see your counselor if you need any fee waivers.