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5 Theater School Audition Tips

Dear prospective acting student who loves their craft and wants to study it to its fullest extent at a college level, 

The process has never been harder. 

This college process is unique and tricky, and while it’s important to note it’s difficult, it can be done.  I am a first year Acting major at the Penn State School of Theatre. I am grateful everyday that I get to study what I love rigorously and passionately. Even though I am incredibly happy, I had a long senior year process of trying to get to where I am today. Prospective student, I know you’re reading this because the process could seem bigger than you; it’s not. In fact, with these simple steps I will outline how to stay organized during this crazy process. 

Please keep in mind that I am providing tips only for organization and staying healthy (mentally and physically). For finding materials, creating a list of schools, and audition prep, I would highly suggest a college audition coach. I had one for this process and it helped immensely. With that being said, here are some tips and tricks:

1. Create a spreadsheet. 

I had two spreadsheets for my process. The first was for pre-screens. Pre-screens are an initial video audition you send in with your application. If you pass, you are allowed to audition in person for the school. Not all schools have one, so be sure to check! For this spreadsheet, I separated rows by school name, pre-screen requirements (monologues, songs, dance, etc.), due date, and pass/fail. Once I passed the pre-screens, I created one that was for my auditions. I compiled a list of the schools I was applying to and separated rows by school name, audition date, audition time, audition location, materials needed (monologues, songs, dance, etc.), and date to be notified by (you may have to approximate because not all schools tell you the exact date). 

2. Keep a master binder/Google Drive folder.

You’re going to want to keep all your materials in one place. If your auditions require songs, you will need to have a binder anyway to keep your sheet music in. In this binder, I recommend keeping head-shots and resumes in the front folder and copies of your monologues in the back folder. If you want, you can also keep your plays in the back pocket as well, but I would take those out before you go into the audition. Another great tool is Google Drive. You can create a folder titled “College Auditions” or whatever your heart desires and keep your accompaniment tracks, copies of monologues, PDFs of plays, head-shots, resume, and artistic statements in it, and you can easily print them whenever you need to. 

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3. Get the academic portion done FIRST.

Senioritis is a real thing. You have to submit your academic record to all schools even if you’re going into an artistic major. Make sure you have all letters of recommendation, personal essays, college specific essays, transcripts, and applications filled out before you touch your artistic applications. Having this portion out of the way will allow you to focus on rehearsing your materials and getting ready to crush your auditions. I suggest doing this the summer before senior year starts. Once you hit September, you’re going to want all the time to film prescreens and put your best foot forward. 

4. Create a playlist, bring a book, color, or play a fun game on your phone.

During your auditions, you’re going to be doing a lot of waiting. While it’s great to make friends and talk to people, having alone time and relaxing is just as important. Having something to calm your mind before an audition can really help ease the stress or tension you’re feeling. I also recommend these tools when you’re waiting for decisions to be released. These are healthy distractions that can be your best friend!

5. Be yourself.

I know this one sounds really cliche, but it can be hard to remember. During this process, you may find yourself outside an audition room comparing yourself to the other auditionees. Don’t. You are enough. The secret to standing out at auditions is being yourself. These schools are recruiting individuals, not carbon copies of the same person. Trust that your artistic decisions and your creativity are enough to set you apart. They want authentic, original human beings who are passionate and most importantly, kind. Remind yourself that you are enough. Set an intention for yourself everyday, and intentionally be grateful for at least one thing. I found that this intention/gratitude practice really helped me stay grounded.


I hope these tips are helpful. Remember that this process is tough and the fact that you’re willing to tackle it says a lot about your courage and determination. I’d like to end this post on the note that college does not define you, and you will end up at the place that is meant for you! Grow where you are planted.

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Author: Madaline King

Hey! I am Maddy King and I am a first year Acting major at Penn State School of Theatre. I have loved performing since I was a kid, so I am really grateful to be studying it in college. Besides theatre, I love to read, listen to true crime podcasts, ice skate, paddle board, and drink good tea.