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Articles / Admissions / Do UK Applicants Need Higher SAT's than US Applicants?

May 19, 2020

Do UK Applicants Need Higher SAT's than US Applicants?

Question: As an international student applying next January I understand the need for me to take the SAT/ACT to act as a benchmark against other applicants. However I can't help but feel worried when I hear horror stories of universities requiring international students to score higher on these exams in the name of competitiveness. As an A-level student in the UK I am already taking rigorous courses and achieving good results, but I can’t help but feel that my possible SAT scores will hold me back in my application when I have excelled in my home country. Is there any truth to the statement that international students are expected to have excelled in the SAT/ACT, or is this opinion just held at highly prestigious universities such as Yale and Harvard where selectivity can be afforded? Would this be the same case for other colleges such as Rutgers and NYU?

Your question leaves out a key piece of information: Are you applying for financial aid? If not, then you will be held to the same standards as are U.S. applicants. In fact, if your A-Level results are strong, admission officials may even cut you a bit of slack on your SAT or ACT scores because, as an international student, you’ll be helping to diversify their campus.


BUT … international students requiring financial aid are usually held to a far higher standard than their domestic peers. This means that your grades and test scores will probably have to be better than those of the typically admitted U.S. applicant in order for you to get good news at decision time. So, if you need aid, be sure to consider some institutions where the average freshman is not as strong as you are in all areas (including SAT/ACT scores). And also remember that, for internationals seeking aid, no U.S. college is truly “Safe.”

(posted 1/15/2011)

Written by

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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