This is the time of year when students (and their parents) spring into high gear when it comes to SAT and ACT test preparation. There are countless test preparation books and courses available to students on that very subject. There are other ways to become a standout candidate in the college admissions exercise. What am I talking about? I am talking about taking and passing CLEP and DANTES/DSST tests. If you do a web search on those two topics you will see a list of tests that are available. You take the test(s) at a testing center. Your search will show you the locations of those centers. If you pass those tests, you garner 3 college credits (and in some cases, more). Of course, before spending the money on the tests, make sure that your particular potential college(s) will accept those tests. Most colleges (including Ivy League colleges) do accept them. One caveat is that for the tests that involve laboratory science, most schools will only accept them as electives, not as fulfilling your general education science requirement. But, they would still be accepted as elective credits. With these tests, you can potentially test out of the majority of your general education requirements for your bachelor's degree when you pass enough of those tests. This can be done without taking AP courses.
Beyond saving you a bundle of money, and a significant amount of time, passing these tests proves something important to the college admissions officer. What does it prove? It proves that you are capable of college level work. The tests prove it because when you pass them, you are awarded college credits. That is one of the things college admissions officers want to know. The SAT and/or ACT score is an indicator of the student's potential ability to handle college level work. But if you have earned college credits, the officer no longer needs to solely rely upon that test score. As a matter of fact, if you pass enough of those tests prior to beginning college, you go in as a transfer student. THAT puts you in the express line for admissions.
Please let me know if you have questions about this. I would be happy to set up a tutoring session, or series of sessions, to help you achieve your dreams.