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Articles / Applying to College / How Will British GCSE Affect Ivy League Admission?

How Will British GCSE Affect Ivy League Admission?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Aug. 24, 2010

Question: I am currently studying under the British GCSE

(General Certificate of Secondary Education) system. How does that affect my admissions to Ivy League colleges in America?

American colleges and universities--especially the more sought-after ones like the Ivies--are quite accustomed to receiving applications from students who have been educated in the British system. Be sure to check each college's Web site for information that is specifically aimed at international students. Even if you are actually an American living abroad, you should still look for this info because you are likely to learn about how each college treats GCSE applicants. For instance, at some institutions, you may be able to submit A-Level results in lieu of required testing.

Example: From the Yale University Web site:

Students enrolled in A-level programs may use completed A-level results as a substitute for the SAT II Subject Tests on a one-for-one basis provided official test results arrive at Yale by February of 2010. Eligible students must still take either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT. Predicted A-level results may not be used as substitutions for the SAT II Subject Tests.

In addition, many U.S. schools will treat A-level scores like "Advanced Placement" exams, meaning that you can earn college credit for good results. Policies will vary from college to college so you can't assume that the practices at one institution will mirror those at the next, and you may have something of a treasure hunt ahead as you endeavor to find each school's policies on its Web site.

But the bottom line is that most admission offices have a staff member who is familiar with the GCSE system, and if you can't find the instructions you need on Web sites, don't hesitate to contact admission offices directly.

There are also a number of threads about GCSE students on the College Confidential discussion forum. You'll find some of them here:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/international-students/362394-british-help.html and here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/international-students/557325-do-gcses-matter.htmland here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/international-students/163974-uk-students-results.htmland you can find others by doing a search on CC.

Good luck to you as you navigate the often-confusing U.S. college process.

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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