Going from UK to do undergrad in the US Watch

..m..m..
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I was wondering if anyone went through this process - did a levels (or equivalent) in the UK and went to the US from undergrad study.
If you did could you outline the process you went through, (when did you give the SATs, when you started applying, any tips for the application, which uni you got into etc) this will be a big help.

Also any other information and help from anyone would be appreciated

Edit: I'm currently in year 12 and my GCSE grades are as follows:
Maths- 8
Eng lit - 8
Eng lang- 8
Science (trilogy) - 8 8
Art- 9
French- 7
ICT - A
Product design- A
RE - B
Last edited by ..m..m..; 3 weeks ago
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angelinahx
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I was really, really interested in doing this in Year 12 to the point where I even bought the SAT-practice book and signed myself up for the SAT at my local centre but never went.

For most colleges, your GCSE's are the equivalent of their high school diploma. Your A-levels can (and do) give you specific transfer credit, but the problem with A-level grades is that when you apply (unless you take a year out, and then apply with your "real" A-level grades achieved - also, I'm assuming you're in Year 12 rn), you have no official transcripts provided to you by any specific examination board. They're "predicted", and at most UK sixth forms, officials have no experience with US applications (unless, of course, you attend an international sixth form), meaning your teachers merely enter your predicted grades onto your British UCAS application.
Therefore, you apply with your GCSE grades as this is considered the equivalent of a U.S. diploma, and you explain to the admission officers that you're currently undertaking A-levels. They generally like this, as they're considered within the context of AP classes - more difficult, with significantly harder content. However, if you already have your A-levels or you will have them by the time of applications, just ignore my advice and apply with your A-level grades. Ideally, I'd do the SATs in the spring of Year 12 - or the spring before the fall/winter deadline of your application.
You have to check specific deadlines at the universities themselves as every college is different.

However, I'm genuinely confused as to why you would choose to do this. Unless you have a U.S. citizenship or 13 A*'s at A-level, this is going to be ridiculously expensive and you won't be eligible for financial aid. I'm able to get financial aid because I'm a U.S citizenship and I still chose to opt out because it would be so incredibly expensive, and considering that we're talking about a bachelor, something which won't significantly advance your employment probabilities (unless you do STEM, but you could do this at Oxford/Imperial/Cambridge for significantly less), I'm confused as to why you would choose to do this when you could get sponsored for a masters if you do well in your British undergrad.
Last edited by angelinahx; 3 weeks ago
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luluxo
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Hi

I’m from the Americas so I have some info that you might find useful )

So your A-levels are considered like our “AP” which is the advanced placement course. Most schools would require around an “A” at A level as it translates to a 4/5 on the AP scale but IVY leagues or the Cali schools would probably require an A*. The thing about US schools is that they aren’t usually as transparent as UK schools in terms of their admission requirements- for UK schools they have required A level grades stated specifically on their website but for US, they always take more of a holistic approach so they don’t necessarily have a mark cutoff explicitly stated. However, since competition is incredibly fierce for internationals, you would want A/A*. Also, it would be highly beneficial if you already have A levels done because most people applying to the US already have many AP’s done by the time they APPLY (not the end of senior year). If not, be sure to state on your common application that you’re currently taking A levels.

For the SAT, I would definitely consider writing it soon (spring session) as many people write it more than once to improve scores (some schools will superscore your results, meaning they take the highest marks from each category if you write the test multiple times. Not all schools do though so you’ll have to check specifically). In addition to that, you may be required to take SAT subject tests which are separate tests for a specific course so you should check to see if you need to do that.

For the application process, you definitely need to start early because US schools require way more supplemental applications than UK (most UK schools just require the personal statement but many US schools have additional questions). Also, the formatting for the UK personal statement and the US common app are a bit different, where UK likes to see your achievements stated explicitly, US is more of like telling a story about yourself and indirectly doing that? Idk if that makes sense but feel free to dm me if you’re confused haha.

Also one more thing, lots of US schools require 2 references which is different than just the 1 UK reference so be sure to get 2.

But ya like I said, feel free to dm me, I’ve been successful at both UK and US apps so I’ll try my best to help as much as possible
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..m..m..
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(Original post by angelinahx)
I was really, really interested in doing this in Year 12 to the point where I even bought the SAT-practice book and signed myself up for the SAT at my local centre but never went.

For most colleges, your GCSE's are the equivalent of their high school diploma. Your A-levels can (and do) give you specific transfer credit, but the problem with A-level grades is that when you apply (unless you take a year out, and then apply with your "real" A-level grades achieved - also, I'm assuming you're in Year 12 rn), you have no official transcripts provided to you by any specific examination board. They're "predicted", and at most UK sixth forms, officials have no experience with US applications (unless, of course, you attend an international sixth form), meaning your teachers merely enter your predicted grades onto your British UCAS application.
Therefore, you apply with your GCSE grades as this is considered the equivalent of a U.S. diploma, and you explain to the admission officers that you're currently undertaking A-levels. They generally like this, as they're considered within the context of AP classes - more difficult, with significantly harder content. However, if you already have your A-levels or you will have them by the time of applications, just ignore my advice and apply with your A-level grades. Ideally, I'd do the SATs in the spring of Year 12 - or the spring before the fall/winter deadline of your application.
You have to check specific deadlines at the universities themselves as every college is different.

However, I'm genuinely confused as to why you would choose to do this. Unless you have a U.S. citizenship or 13 A*'s at A-level, this is going to be ridiculously expensive and you won't be eligible for financial aid. I'm able to get financial aid because I'm a U.S citizenship and I still chose to opt out because it would be so incredibly expensive, and considering that we're talking about a bachelor, something which won't significantly advance your employment probabilities (unless you do STEM, but you could do this at Oxford/Imperial/Cambridge for significantly less), I'm confused as to why you would choose to do this when you could get sponsored for a masters if you do well in your British undergrad.
Hi so I should have mentioned this, but yes I'm an ameriAme citizen. One of the few reasons why I'm opting for this choice is that in the UK, I'll have to pay international fees which when reaserched are similar to the US home fees.

Also I'm confused do you mean 13 A* at GCSE? Also, I wasn't aware for this that you had to apply with GCSE grade. I got 1 '9' ; 5 '8s' ; 2 'As' and a 7 and a 6, so when translating that to the older GCSEs that's 6 A*s 3As and 1B.

Another reason I'm choosing to do this is because when I go to university my family will go back to their country (not USA) since their visa ends after 5 years (the amount of time I will stay in the UK after year 13). America will be easier for me because I have alot of reliable family and family friends there in that country, which is easier than have no friends and family.

Also, I haven't decided which degree I want to do. This is one of the reasons I want to go to America, they have minors and majors and People go in undecided, which sounds perfect for me because (a) I have no idea what I want to do, I'm juggling between the prospect of doing architecture, or psychology, or something creative like product or graphic design (I don't think those are stem subjects)

So yeah those are the reasons why America seems better suited for me- I don't want to choose a specific degree so early at age, I want to explore to choose the right paths.
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..m..m..
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(Original post by luluxo)
Hi

I’m from the Americas so I have some info that you might find useful )

So your A-levels are considered like our “AP” which is the advanced placement course. Most schools would require around an “A” at A level as it translates to a 4/5 on the AP scale but IVY leagues or the Cali schools would probably require an A*. The thing about US schools is that they aren’t usually as transparent as UK schools in terms of their admission requirements- for UK schools they have required A level grades stated specifically on their website but for US, they always take more of a holistic approach so they don’t necessarily have a mark cutoff explicitly stated. However, since competition is incredibly fierce for internationals, you would want A/A*. Also, it would be highly beneficial if you already have A levels done because most people applying to the US already have many AP’s done by the time they APPLY (not the end of senior year). If not, be sure to state on your common application that you’re currently taking A levels.

For the SAT, I would definitely consider writing it soon (spring session) as many people write it more than once to improve scores (some schools will superscore your results, meaning they take the highest marks from each category if you write the test multiple times. Not all schools do though so you’ll have to check specifically). In addition to that, you may be required to take SAT subject tests which are separate tests for a specific course so you should check to see if you need to do that.

For the application process, you definitely need to start early because US schools require way more supplemental applications than UK (most UK schools just require the personal statement but many US schools have additional questions). Also, the formatting for the UK personal statement and the US common app are a bit different, where UK likes to see your achievements stated explicitly, US is more of like telling a story about yourself and indirectly doing that? Idk if that makes sense but feel free to dm me if you’re confused haha.

Also one more thing, lots of US schools require 2 references which is different than just the 1 UK reference so be sure to get 2.

But ya like I said, feel free to dm me, I’ve been successful at both UK and US apps so I’ll try my best to help as much as possible
I was wondering, do they look at your a level subjects in particular when they decide if they want to accept you? I do 4- (maths, English lit, psych and art)

Also, I was wondering how the minors and majors work- can you change them, how flexible the difference between all subjects you take can be? For e,g, could I take law as my major but do psych or french as a minor?

I was also wondering what made you choose personally American unis over UK (Since you were successful in both)

When do I start the application process? I'm in year 12 at the moment.

Also do different unis need different sat subject Tests for the same course? So like if change majors in the first year but don't have the sat subject test required for that topic will it be a problem? Do the tests have the same content as a level (is it more difficult or easier) so like could I do SATs with GCSE knowledge? how many sat subjects is it reccomend?

Sorry for throwing all those questions at you 😅 thanks again for your help 😊
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artful_lounger
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This was getting long so I broke it down into some sections:

applications and advanced credit/placement

Spoiler:
Show


You should start the application process around the same time your school is starting their UCAS applications, although you can (and probably should) aim to sit the SAT/ACT the first time at the end of this academic year/over the summer (so you have time to take it again on a second test date before most admissions deadlines, and/or to take SAT subject tests which are sometimes required). The specific subjects you take are usually not important as getting very high grades in them, except for a handful of engineering/business departments which require you to directly apply to the major at the outset (which is unusual) and often require you've taken calculus already (i.e. A-level Maths).

However once you start at college there, you will normally be given credit or placement for the subjects you've taken, as a lot of first year material at university in the US is broadly equivalent to A-levels (so you won't be repeating content, in theory). Different colleges have different policies on this (for example MIT only by default allow placement into the second semester calculus/physics classes with appropriate background, and only sometimes allow credit for the required biology and chemistry classes if you've done those subjects before) so you may get more or less credit/placement at some colleges compared to others.



on subject tests and similar

Spoiler:
Show


The subject tests are primarily for the purposes of admissions, and sometimes determining placement/credit - you might take a more advanced version of a given class in first year if you score highly on the subject test, or be permitted to skip that into another class. However, this is also true of A-levels and your A-level credit/placement will probably supersede the subject test. I'm not aware of any college restricting admission into majors based on subjects tests, but I suppose some engineering and business majors require you to apply initially as a pre-major or something in it and they might ask for it.

In any case, only some colleges require subject tests, and you'll need to look at each individual college's requirements to ensure you meet them. I think normally 2 is the most officially required, and some colleges will require particular tests (e.g. one of the math tests, or one of the science tests, etc). You can take up to 3 per test date, so it's probably sensible to take 2 or 3 corresponding to your A-levels (as there is no art subject test to my knowledge, since you can't really have a multiple choice art test that isn't just history of art rather than art...).

The subject tests are I guess around AS level-ish content; maybe some a little below, maybe some a little above. You'll need to carefully check the syllabus and look for revision materials and past tests to get an idea of what you have/haven't covered for them. The main SAT is GCSE level content, although the Critical Reasoning (or Verbal Reasoning or whatever it's called) isn't subject knowledge based, and is more about general critical reading comprehension. The math section is about GCSE maths level, although the questions are very unlike the format and style of UK maths questions and you'll definitely want to practice them a bit to get used to the style. This is also more generally true of the test itself; it's more a test of how good you are at taking US style standardized multiple choice tests, than anything (which is very much not the common exam format in the UK).



US degree structure/content

Spoiler:
Show


The degree format is entirely different to the UK. You don't normally apply to a particular degree or major, and you don't normally declare your major until the end of first year or in second year (out of four, incidentally). You'll typically spend most of the first two years taking a range of "general education" requirement courses, taking classes in the sciences, maths, social sciences, humanities etc, along with some major required classes or prerequisites. The last two years you usually focus mainly on taking courses in your major, although you'll often have a fair number of electives to take outside. Here "classes" is synonymous with "modules" in a UK degree, generally.

There are usually no restrictions on choice of major or if you can minor (bear in mind not all colleges offer majors or minors in all subjects, and some don't have formal minor programmes at all) outside of you needing to take specified classes and consequently ensure you register for them and don't have clashes etc. It's not like the UK where you're "pre-booked" on all core modules and there is no chance you won't be able to take a given required class at the right time; in the US, if you forget or oversleep or whatever and need to take a popular class, and all the sections are full, you will need to wait until it's next offered to take that. If that class is the first in a long chain of course each requiring the previous as a prerequisite, you may end up graduating a semester or two late.



law and architecture in the US

Spoiler:
Show


Law is a graduate degree in the US. You cannot study law as an undergraduate. You may be able to study e.g. socio-legal studies, criminology, criminal justice etc as an undergrad but a law degree (that enables you to practice law) is a grad degree in the US.

Art/Design courses, including architecture, may have slightly different application formats involving e.g. portfolio submission or drawing/creative assignments. You'll need to check beforehand - also architecture programmes are quite different structured from the UK, and there are different routes to becoming an architect. If that is your goal, and you'll be studying in the US, you'll need to do a lot of research into it to ensure that you can achieve that and are applying to the appropriate programmes for you.

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..m..m..
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
This was getting long so I broke it down into some sections:

applications and advanced credit/placement

Spoiler:
Show


You should start the application process around the same time your school is starting their UCAS applications, although you can (and probably should) aim to sit the SAT/ACT the first time at the end of this academic year/over the summer (so you have time to take it again on a second test date before most admissions deadlines, and/or to take SAT subject tests which are sometimes required). The specific subjects you take are usually not important as getting very high grades in them, except for a handful of engineering/business departments which require you to directly apply to the major at the outset (which is unusual) and often require you've taken calculus already (i.e. A-level Maths).

However once you start at college there, you will normally be given credit or placement for the subjects you've taken, as a lot of first year material at university in the US is broadly equivalent to A-levels (so you won't be repeating content, in theory). Different colleges have different policies on this (for example MIT only by default allow placement into the second semester calculus/physics classes with appropriate background, and only sometimes allow credit for the required biology and chemistry classes if you've done those subjects before) so you may get more or less credit/placement at some colleges compared to others.


on subject tests and similar

Spoiler:
Show


The subject tests are primarily for the purposes of admissions, and sometimes determining placement/credit - you might take a more advanced version of a given class in first year if you score highly on the subject test, or be permitted to skip that into another class. However, this is also true of A-levels and your A-level credit/placement will probably supersede the subject test. I'm not aware of any college restricting admission into majors based on subjects tests, but I suppose some engineering and business majors require you to apply initially as a pre-major or something in it and they might ask for it.

In any case, only some colleges require subject tests, and you'll need to look at each individual college's requirements to ensure you meet them. I think normally 2 is the most officially required, and some colleges will require particular tests (e.g. one of the math tests, or one of the science tests, etc). You can take up to 3 per test date, so it's probably sensible to take 2 or 3 corresponding to your A-levels (as there is no art subject test to my knowledge, since you can't really have a multiple choice art test that isn't just history of art rather than art...).

The subject tests are I guess around AS level-ish content; maybe some a little below, maybe some a little above. You'll need to carefully check the syllabus and look for revision materials and past tests to get an idea of what you have/haven't covered for them. The main SAT is GCSE level content, although the Critical Reasoning (or Verbal Reasoning or whatever it's called) isn't subject knowledge based, and is more about general critical reading comprehension. The math section is about GCSE maths level, although the questions are very unlike the format and style of UK maths questions and you'll definitely want to practice them a bit to get used to the style. This is also more generally true of the test itself; it's more a test of how good you are at taking US style standardized multiple choice tests, than anything (which is very much not the common exam format in the UK).


US degree structure/content

Spoiler:
Show


The degree format is entirely different to the UK. You don't normally apply to a particular degree or major, and you don't normally declare your major until the end of first year or in second year (out of four, incidentally). You'll typically spend most of the first two years taking a range of "general education" requirement courses, taking classes in the sciences, maths, social sciences, humanities etc, along with some major required classes or prerequisites. The last two years you usually focus mainly on taking courses in your major, although you'll often have a fair number of electives to take outside. Here "classes" is synonymous with "modules" in a UK degree, generally.

There are usually no restrictions on choice of major or if you can minor (bear in mind not all colleges offer majors or minors in all subjects, and some don't have formal minor programmes at all) outside of you needing to take specified classes and consequently ensure you register for them and don't have clashes etc. It's not like the UK where you're "pre-booked" on all core modules and there is no chance you won't be able to take a given required class at the right time; in the US, if you forget or oversleep or whatever and need to take a popular class, and all the sections are full, you will need to wait until it's next offered to take that. If that class is the first in a long chain of course each requiring the previous as a prerequisite, you may end up graduating a semester or two late.


law and architecture in the US

Spoiler:
Show


Law is a graduate degree in the US. You cannot study law as an undergraduate. You may be able to study e.g. socio-legal studies, criminology, criminal justice etc as an undergrad but a law degree (that enables you to practice law) is a grad degree in the US.

Art/Design courses, including architecture, may have slightly different application formats involving e.g. portfolio submission or drawing/creative assignments. You'll need to check beforehand - also architecture programmes are quite different structured from the UK, and there are different routes to becoming an architect. If that is your goal, and you'll be studying in the US, you'll need to do a lot of research into it to ensure that you can achieve that and are applying to the appropriate programmes for you.
Thank you so much, this was really detailed and really helpful, 😀👍
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