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A-levels for Ivy League Admissions

What A-levels should I take to get into schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton? Also non-Ivy League ones like MIT, Caltech and Stanford?

I know these schools want students who pursue a "rigorous courseload" and I want to take Maths, Further Maths and Physics, but what else? Or should I even take 5 A-levels? A sixth form near me allows doing 5, so it's an option.

I'm thinking as a fourth A-level: Geography, Chemistry, English Lit, Religious Studies, History or Psychology. These schools require a letter of recommendation from a non-STEM subject as well, so I'm not sure what to choose, and whether to do a facilitating subject or not here.
Reply 1
You could apply to the sutton trust American scholarship thing for more advice. Personally id just do as many as id want to/feel comfortable with (i took maths, fm bio chem phys but dropped bio cus i cba to revise). Id say 4 is the sweet spot for me. I think for america its a lott more extracurr + oly stuff + community stuff asw, or you have to be reallyy cracked. If youre in y11, id say just start some of them now (i looked through the maths as + bit of a level during gcse, but i was a bit late to seriously sit them.
Original post by elemenohpee
What A-levels should I take to get into schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton? Also non-Ivy League ones like MIT, Caltech and Stanford?

I know these schools want students who pursue a "rigorous courseload" and I want to take Maths, Further Maths and Physics, but what else? Or should I even take 5 A-levels? A sixth form near me allows doing 5, so it's an option.

I'm thinking as a fourth A-level: Geography, Chemistry, English Lit, Religious Studies, History or Psychology. These schools require a letter of recommendation from a non-STEM subject as well, so I'm not sure what to choose, and whether to do a facilitating subject or not here.

I wouldn't recommend doing 5. While it's very rigorous courseload, it's completely unnecessary and can impact your other grades.

You don't need to do a humanities A-Level to get a humanities reference - you can get one from a GCSE teacher too. I'd say for the 4th one, take what you enjoy - not what you think universities will want to see. It'll make it so much easier to get a better grade since you actually want to do it. Just generally being yourself is the advice I give to everyone looking to apply to US Universities - both domestic and international.

On a side tangent, ask yourself why you want to go to these universities. They're all top schools for sure, but I'd do more research into all of them and what they may give you with relation to what you want. This may help you narrow it down to whether or not you actually want to go to these places, as they can be pretty difficult and demanding.

If you want any info about Caltech, feel free to shoot me a DM
Reply 3
Original post by elemenohpee
What A-levels should I take to get into schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton? Also non-Ivy League ones like MIT, Caltech and Stanford?

I know these schools want students who pursue a "rigorous courseload" and I want to take Maths, Further Maths and Physics, but what else? Or should I even take 5 A-levels? A sixth form near me allows doing 5, so it's an option.

I'm thinking as a fourth A-level: Geography, Chemistry, English Lit, Religious Studies, History or Psychology. These schools require a letter of recommendation from a non-STEM subject as well, so I'm not sure what to choose, and whether to do a facilitating subject or not here.

4 is a good balance - source: I did 4 and was accepted to Princeton, Stanford, UPenn, and have helped dozens of students since.

I will note however, that grades by itself do not get you a free pass to the top colleges. The US admissions process is a different beast to the UK.

You will need to have activities outside of your school work that proves your "character".

Are there any clubs that you're a member of? Any hobbies that you've been practicing for the past few years of your life? There is no single answer or trait that gives you a free pass to the Ivy leagues - you need to build a profile that shows:

1.

You have the capacity to learn

2.

You have an interest that goes beyond what you've been told you need to study

3.

You have a mission that you want to pursue beyond college

Lmk if you have specific questions, I will try to respond!
Reply 4
Original post by ben324234
4 is a good balance - source: I did 4 and was accepted to Princeton, Stanford, UPenn, and have helped dozens of students since.

I will note however, that grades by itself do not get you a free pass to the top colleges. The US admissions process is a different beast to the UK.

You will need to have activities outside of your school work that proves your "character".

Are there any clubs that you're a member of? Any hobbies that you've been practicing for the past few years of your life? There is no single answer or trait that gives you a free pass to the Ivy leagues - you need to build a profile that shows:

1.

You have the capacity to learn

2.

You have an interest that goes beyond what you've been told you need to study

3.

You have a mission that you want to pursue beyond college

Lmk if you have specific questions, I will try to respond!

I was wondering what grades you've heard of people from the UK getting to receive offers to top US unis (the only people I knew who went to the USA are relatives who took a different set of exams due to living in another country, but I've heard anything from 4A* to 6A*). I was also wondering what kind of SAT/ACT score you/others from the UK got.

Any advice would help a lot in terms of the applications process as all I've really gone over are course requirements and the SAT. I was also wondering what the British equivalent of a GPA was (I assume something to do with GCSEs?), and if we needed one.

I'm currently doing 4 A-levels (Maths, Comp sci, bio and chem) and I think I have ample super/extracurriculars due to having a range of interests from Y7 which have links to biology/computer science, because frankly I am a very proud nerd when it comes to my niche, having founded a genetics society and taught primary school kids how to program robots this term, as well as having taken things like Bioethics and medical MOOCS from universities like Stanford online when I was about 13.
I have started doing volunteer work from the beginning of this (academic) year and I help to raise funds for bursaries, organize charity events and alumni/parents association events at my school. If you think there's anything else I should be doing that I've neglected, please let me know.

Thanks a bunch! :biggrin:
Reply 5
Original post by elemenohpee
What A-levels should I take to get into schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton? Also non-Ivy League ones like MIT, Caltech and Stanford?

I know these schools want students who pursue a "rigorous courseload" and I want to take Maths, Further Maths and Physics, but what else? Or should I even take 5 A-levels? A sixth form near me allows doing 5, so it's an option.

I'm thinking as a fourth A-level: Geography, Chemistry, English Lit, Religious Studies, History or Psychology. These schools require a letter of recommendation from a non-STEM subject as well, so I'm not sure what to choose, and whether to do a facilitating subject or not here.

Here's what I did when I got into Princeton Stanford Upenn - Double Maths, Phys, Chem (4 subjects)

US colleges look at a lot more than just your subjects. What I mean is, if you're writing your essays about your love for helping others and your activities outside of school are things like: maths olympiad, physics research, and subject choices are double maths phys and chem, they probably won't let you in because your story doesn't match the evidence.

Have a think about your story and think about what subjects make sense for you.
Reply 6
Original post by Nyx73
I was wondering what grades you've heard of people from the UK getting to receive offers to top US unis (the only people I knew who went to the USA are relatives who took a different set of exams due to living in another country, but I've heard anything from 4A* to 6A*). I was also wondering what kind of SAT/ACT score you/others from the UK got.

Any advice would help a lot in terms of the applications process as all I've really gone over are course requirements and the SAT. I was also wondering what the British equivalent of a GPA was (I assume something to do with GCSEs?), and if we needed one.

I'm currently doing 4 A-levels (Maths, Comp sci, bio and chem) and I think I have ample super/extracurriculars due to having a range of interests from Y7 which have links to biology/computer science, because frankly I am a very proud nerd when it comes to my niche, having founded a genetics society and taught primary school kids how to program robots this term, as well as having taken things like Bioethics and medical MOOCS from universities like Stanford online when I was about 13.
I have started doing volunteer work from the beginning of this (academic) year and I help to raise funds for bursaries, organize charity events and alumni/parents association events at my school. If you think there's anything else I should be doing that I've neglected, please let me know.

Thanks a bunch! :biggrin:

Hi Nyx, sorry I didn't get any notification on this.

I was predicted all As, and had 10As 1A in GCSEs. I also had a 2380/2400 SAT. You can just go by predicted grades for the GPA point.4.0=A * etc

I really want to caution against just thinking about grades. Think of them as a buffer. You will never get in just because of your grades, but a lukewarm profile can get in thanks to grades. Remember that these institutions can afford to ONLY accept 4.0GPA 1600/1600 SAT students to fill their class, yet they don't

That's great! I cannot possibly tell you what you should and should not be doing but I can add this:
Think about WHY you're doing these things. Go a level deeper. You say you are a nerd about it, what attracts you to it?

Why genetics?

Why bother teaching primary school kids?

Why charity?


Think about your why - and as a more practical tip, make sure you can articulate what your inputs changed in your activities, and think of ways to maximize that.
eg ) I raised X amount by doing Y which led to Z
eg ) I taught X students Y, but changed the way it was taught due to Z which led to 50% more students finishing the course

Hope that helps!
Reply 7
Original post by ben324234
4 is a good balance - source: I did 4 and was accepted to Princeton, Stanford, UPenn, and have helped dozens of students since.

I will note however, that grades by itself do not get you a free pass to the top colleges. The US admissions process is a different beast to the UK.

You will need to have activities outside of your school work that proves your "character".

Are there any clubs that you're a member of? Any hobbies that you've been practicing for the past few years of your life? There is no single answer or trait that gives you a free pass to the Ivy leagues - you need to build a profile that shows:

1.

You have the capacity to learn

2.

You have an interest that goes beyond what you've been told you need to study

3.

You have a mission that you want to pursue beyond college

Lmk if you have specific questions, I will try to respond!

Hey, is it possible for me to dm/contact you for some guidance. Thank you :smile:
Reply 8
Original post by jn1337
Hey, is it possible for me to dm/contact you for some guidance. Thank you :smile:

hey, go for it!
Reply 9
Original post by ben324234
hey, go for it!

Oh!... Your profile isn’t quite ready to send private messages on The Student Room” 😭😭😭
If you don’t mind, Deleted User 886ef27d#4161 - discord, or please let me know which other ways is more convenient for you.

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