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Articles / Applying to College / Do A-Levels Replace SATs for British Students?

Feb. 4, 2003

Do A-Levels Replace SATs for British Students?

Question: My daughter is an American citizen, but she has been educated in a British school in London where we live. Will American colleges accept her A-Level test results instead of the SAT?

The vast majority of colleges that require the SAT of domestic students will also expect it of international students, as well, no matter what other tests they’ve completed nor the results they’ve achieved. You can ask individual schools if they differ on that policy, but it’s unlikely. The ACT can be substituted for the SAT almost everywhere, but the SAT is probably easier to access in the U.K. Go to www.collegeboard.com for details. (Typically students in British schools in and around London take the SAT at the American School in Saint John’s Wood, but there are several other options, depending where you live.)


The good news, however, is that, while strong A-level results won’t replace standardized test scores, they can often be substituted for the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams and can earn an applicant credit once enrolled. Some students with several high A-level results may even qualify for sophomore status when they matriculate. At Yale University, for instance, freshmen may be awarded the same number of acceleration credits for scores of B or A on their A-level examinations (or for scores of 6 or 7 on higher-level International Baccalaureate examinations) as they would for top scores on the AP tests.

In fact, if your daughter is accepted by several American colleges or universities, she may find that she is awarded varying amounts of credit at each one for her A-level results, and that may affect her final decision, so be sure to ask at every school and never assume that policies are the same across the board.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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