A Guide to College Auditions

Last updated Sep 13, 2023 
| aplustutoring

Applying to college is already intimidating without adding more steps, more deadlines, and more pressure to leave admission committees with one final impression of your skills and talents, but that’s exactly what students who are applying to programs in the performing arts are up against when tasked with fulfilling an audition requirement. So whether you are an actor hoping to secure a spot at a top drama school or an oboist seeking a chair at the music school of your dreams, read ahead to learn more about audition components, timelines, tips, and more!


Students required to complete an audition as part of the college admissions process typically include students applying to conservatories or pursuing majors in the performing arts, such as actors, dancers, musicians, and singers.


The first thing prospective students must do is review their college lists and research each school’s specific requirements. Many performing arts programs, for example, will ask for a pre-screening submission best filmed in the summer or fall, which colleges use to narrow down who to schedule for an audition. When it comes to the actual audition, that depends on the type of program to which you are applying. 

  • Actors applying to drama schools usually are asked to bring a headshot and prepare a classical monologue (pre-1900) and contemporary monologue (post-1900); musical theater programs will ask for a “golden age” song (1940-1960) and a contemporary song (post-1970). Expect to sit for an interview, too.
  • Dance auditions generally require dancers to perform a range of classic and modern dance. Students must also bring a headshot, any music needed for a solo, and specific clothing that meets specific dress requirements. The audition itself will ask dancers to attend two technique classes, perform a solo, and complete an interview.
  • Music school applicants, including singers and those seeking to fill slots in orchestras, jazz bands, or big bands, must attend a general information session, ear training, and music fundamentals or theory exams, and about 20 minutes of prepared performance following a warm-up. Interview requirements are also common.


Start your audition spreadsheet! Auditioning means juggling many deadlines and requirements, so it’s important to start planning as early as the summer leading up to senior year. By then, you can access the information you need to know to start filling out applications, preparing pre-screens, and get familiar with audition requirements for monologues, dance techniques, instruments, and song selections. 

The earliest to expect to audition is October, but most auditions will happen between January and February. Don’t forget to factor into your plans how much you are capable and willing to travel and how many auditions you feel you can fit into one day without compromising your performance.


The key to a successful audition process is doing your homework. Before you even start studying your solo piece or your contemporary monologue, check out each college website or call/email the admissions office to learn more about whether or not an application and/or prescreening audition must be completed before an in-person audition can take place. 

It’s also a good idea to figure out how you are expected to submit your prescreen. Most colleges and programs will have their own online portal, but acting and musical theater students may want to consider using an online platform called Acceptd that accepts prescreen and audition videos for college programs. 

If your prescreening audition is good enough to land you an official audition, then the next step is to schedule an actual in-person or virtual audition. If you do choose a virtual audition, do your best to locate a distraction-free neutral space with good acoustics. Consult with teachers or other mentors to select the best audition pieces, practice, and get feedback from someone you trust.

Approach the audition as a learning process. Those evaluating you want to see how well you learn new information, approach new challenges, and demonstrate knowledge and interest in both your chosen performing art and their program. At the same time, use your audition to assess if the program is a good fit for you. Be your best self: be yourself, be punctual, speak and treat everyone with respect, have fun, and say thank you in-person and later send a follow up email.

How A+ Can Help

Competition for spots in most performing arts programs can be intense. So, while it’s important to try your best to nail an audition, it’s equally important to set reasonable expectations and be prepared for all possible outcomes. That’s why you will not only need to keep on top of deadlines and requirements, but also you will also need a balanced college list. A+ Test Prep and Tutoring can help! We offer College Admissions Coaching that works on every facet of the college search and application process. From creating a school list to editing essays, to interview prep, our expert coaches guide students each step of the way.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, we can be reached at 215-886-9188 or email us at office@aplustutoring.com.


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