A-Level Resits and/or SATs for Graphic Design Watch

LukeMurray
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Hey! I've just finished my a-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and for one reason or another I under-performed (quite a lot). I think realistically I'll come out with three (high-ish) C grades, not terrible but not too brilliant either. I really want to do Graphic Design at a California based uni (FIDM would be my first choice!) but am not sure where these grades leave my chances of getting in :s I'm not looking to go till next year as I want to work for a year first and get some money (and hopefully a decent portfolio) together and I know if I resat the exams I'm capable of A grades.

Should I resit the a-levels this year and do SATs at same time? Or would my A-level grades (assuming they will be 3 Cs) be alright as long as I get some decent SAT results? Also, I heard FIDM doesn't necessarily go off SATs so if that's the case what do they look at and is it worth taking the SATs at all? If so, what modules would you recommend for the SAT IIs? Finally, with a course like this are A-levels even considered or is it mostly based on your portfolio?

Thanks in advance! Any information you guys can give will be greatly appreciated!!! Sorry for so many questions but in trying to read/ask around this subject I've obtained soo much conflicting information my head is spinning!
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j.caesar
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I've never heard of FIDM before, but ask the admissions office about SATs--there's no use in taking exams if they're not going to be used (which is quite likely, considering that the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing is more or less a vocational school that doesn't really need applicants to be versatile in physics and chemistry). So, the main tipping point is probably the portfolio. I would nevertheless make a point to shoot the admissions people an email, though.

It doesn't seem particularly competitive, especially since it didn't release the percentage of admitted applicants (see http://collegesearch.collegeboard.co...ollegeId=1497), and you seem like a sufficiently-high performing student to get into a school like that.

Did you, by chance, take a look at other schools? Rankings by USNews of graphic design schools are here (this is only of the graduate program, but that is often indicative of the quality of the undergrad program):

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsa...ad/art/graphic
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LukeMurray
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Thanks for the reply j.caesar! I've given the FIDM admissions an email like you said and I'm just awaiting a reply from them. I did share the concern that my A-level subjects are quite far departed from the subject I intend to study but hopefully I can put together a good enough portfolio to help admissions tutors overlook this.

Also thanks for the USNews rankings! I wasn't aware of a couple of the unis in the list and it certainly helped having them ranked in order of degree standard. I'm going to do some further research into the two NY based unis in the list and also the two in CA and try and get a feel for their admissions procedures. From a quick glance it would seem a lot value portfolio strength of paramount importance so it seems like that is gonna require a lot of attention over the coming year, but then I guess I kind of expected that. If I was to reconcentrate on one of these unis (Pratt, California Institute of Arts, California School of Arts and the School of Visual Arts), which I assume posses a higher entry standard, would you then recommend I resit the A-levels? Or just throw everything into some getting some decent SAT scores? Also, in the admissions for these unis for internationall students they seem to reference the SAT I but have no mention of SAT II components so would I be right to assume that in such cases sitting these SAT IIs would do nothing to help my application? Thanks again!
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j.caesar
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I don't think A-levels in art or art history or whatever would've helped your cause that much, honestly, because these people know that art A-levels (and the Studio Art AP) are hardly predictive of artistic ability.

You've probably heard that American schools look for students who have just done stuff--be it in the form of extracurriculars, academics, work experience, or volunteer work. The exception is with music and art. They look most at your audition and portfolio respectively. That said, I think that you still should demonstrate cognitive ability: not via SAT IIs, but maybe through an SAT would be good if it is required.

Nevertheless, seeing as I've never really planned to apply to an art school, my knowledge is limited, meaning that you should stalk/badger the admissions officers until they give you answers to these questions. My knowledge comes from reading a few disparate articles and knowing about the process to apply to music schools.

Good luck!
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123monster
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I don't think you should worry much about your A levels. Do the sats and see what you get...
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LukeMurray
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Thanks again guys for the good advice. Still waiting for a reply from the FIDM admissions guys :s Regardless, I think based on the info the plan is gonna' be to do as well as I can in the SAT I and then build the best portfolio I can over the next year and hope the sketchy A-level results can be overlooked. Cheers!
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FutureEconomist
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(Original post by LukeMurray)
Hey! I've just finished my a-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and for one reason or another I under-performed (quite a lot). I think realistically I'll come out with three (high-ish) C grades, not terrible but not too brilliant either. I really want to do Graphic Design at a California based uni (FIDM would be my first choice!) but am not sure where these grades leave my chances of getting in :s I'm not looking to go till next year as I want to work for a year first and get some money (and hopefully a decent portfolio) together and I know if I resat the exams I'm capable of A grades.

Should I resit the a-levels this year and do SATs at same time? Or would my A-level grades (assuming they will be 3 Cs) be alright as long as I get some decent SAT results? Also, I heard FIDM doesn't necessarily go off SATs so if that's the case what do they look at and is it worth taking the SATs at all? If so, what modules would you recommend for the SAT IIs? Finally, with a course like this are A-levels even considered or is it mostly based on your portfolio?

Thanks in advance! Any information you guys can give will be greatly appreciated!!! Sorry for so many questions but in trying to read/ask around this subject I've obtained soo much conflicting information my head is spinning!
This is quite conflicting to some of the other responses - but never mind.

I strongly recommend you resit some of the A-Levels - they will look at you more favourably with higher grades.

The SATs aren't that much work, I studied for the SAT Reasoning Test for a couple of weekends, and the same for the SAT Subject Tests, and got decent enough scores... they're quite manageable.

The US college admissions process is quite holistic, with a bunch of things to be considered, including academics, extra curriculars, SATs, personal essays, teacher recommendations, special talents etc. You need to get all of this across to stand a good chance of being accepted. What do you do in your spare time?

Getting together some form of portfolio would be helpful - although I intend to major in Economics, I still sent my Visual Arts portfolio, and although it was unrelated, they colleges seemed pleased that I had more than one 'academic' interest.

As someone that has gone through the system, feel free to message me if you want any more assistance.

Oh, and make the most of your gap year - they will want to see that you've done something really worthwhile with your time!
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