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American Equivalent to GCSE

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    I know what GCSEs and A-levels are, and I know that my AP Exams are my equivalent to A-levels, but what will be considered equivalent to GCSEs for me?

    1. My course grades? These are just assigned by my teachers over all my work in the course.
    2. My course final exam grades? However, these are teacher or school-made and not standardized.
    3. Neither of these are very important and my course grades and course exam grades won't really be an influence.
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    Do you not have to do some kind of exam at about 16? I'm rather uninformed on the US education system.
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    there isn't really an equivilent, but don't worry- in practice it's not a problem.
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    (Original post by Cage)
    Do you not have to do some kind of exam at about 16? I'm rather uninformed on the US education system.
    The US system has no mandatory national tests whatsoever. People planning on going to college take the SAT, which is supposed to tell about how successful one will be in college, and does a decent job of that. There are also SAT subject tests to measure future aptitude in specific subjects. AP Exams are for those who take advanced courses and measure competence in those courses. Besides those, I haven't taken any standardized exams.

    (Original post by thomasjtl)
    there isn't really an equivilent, but don't worry- in practice it's not a problem.
    So, are either of the things stated important? My course grades aren't that strong, but my course exam grades are very strong.
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    i don't know- at a guess, they're probably not going to be too interested in non standardised results- since they're not comparable with others- i'd just put your AP tests on the ucas form and not worry about it.
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    (Original post by jbruner17)
    So, are either of the things stated important? My course grades aren't that strong, but my course exam grades are very strong.
    I can't speak so much for Oxford admissions, but I do know American undergrads at LSE; your high school grades are a proxy for GCSEs as far as admissions go. So when a UK student is expected to have loads of A*s and As, an American applicant should have an equivalent A-minus or above in their GPA.

    Why are your overall grades lower than your exam grades? This might be a problem; Oxford requires quite consistent work all year because of weekly essays. A low overall grades suggests you are weaker on coursework. If this is the case, you should work on that quite seriously, otherwise Oxford might not be the best university system for you.
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    (Original post by shady lane)
    I can't speak so much for Oxford admissions, but I do know American undergrads at LSE; your high school grades are a proxy for GCSEs as far as admissions go. So when a UK student is expected to have loads of A*s and As, an American applicant should have an equivalent A-minus or above in their GPA.

    Why are your overall grades lower than your exam grades? This might be a problem; Oxford requires quite consistent work all year because of weekly essays. A low overall grades suggests you are weaker on coursework. If this is the case, you should work on that quite seriously, otherwise Oxford might not be the best university system for you.
    It's mainly personal/family issues and a lack of focus on school during an earlier time period, especially an aversion to school busywork. I know this isn't a very good excuse, but even the course grades aren't too low. (As, Bs, and only a couple Cs). Even in my worst times, an essay isn't the kind of thing i'd skip out on. I'd skip an assignment asking me to color a map or something else I thought was mundane.
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    Unless UK admissions view American grades very differently, I think the Bs and Cs are going to look negative on your application. I did busywork in high school too and yeah, it sucked, but I still made sure to do well as I was aiming high--which you are by applying to Oxford.
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    (Original post by shady lane)
    Unless UK admissions view American grades very differently, I think the Bs and Cs are going to look negative on your application. I did busywork in high school too and yeah, it sucked, but I still made sure to do well as I was aiming high--which you are by applying to Oxford.
    I'm sure they will look negative to a top university, and I should have done my work. However, the general consensus of everyone who knows about Oxford around here (these boards could probably reach a more informed consensus) is that if you have the AP scores and the SAT scores, you'll get an interview, and once you get the interview, the interview is the main thing that matters. I'm applying for PPE, so I'll be submitting a test from Oxford and written work. It seems like there's many more important factors than course grades. Also, I'll be able to send them my in-progress course grades from senior year, which I'll work to make all A's. Ultimately, I feel like I've got as much as chance as anyone.


    In debate I worked with an individual who was in the same situation as myself- great AP and SAT scores, but lots of Bs and Cs in course grades. His GPA was actually a good deal lower than mine is now, and he got an interview (and did get in!). I know that's just anecdotal evidence, but he applied for History and Politics- a tough course!
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    apply and see what happens- yes, low grades is generally not a good thing, but i think you're probably right about them paying more attention to external exam grades, written work, test, interview etc.

    None of this really matters, though- your application seems as strong as many other applicants, and we can speculate until the cows come home about how it'll be viewed, but either you'll get an offer or you won't, so you may as well try.

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Updated: June 21, 2007
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