A level and sixth form students in London may apply to universities in the USA using one of two procedures: 1) using the university’s unique form or 2) using The Common Application Form (similar to the UCAS form because you can send a copy of the same form to any university which does not have their own unique form). Keep in mind that most universities in the USA charge an application fee.
DEADLINES AND REQUIREMENTS
The requirements and deadlines for American universities vary; therefore, it is extremely important that students check each university admissions page for entry requirements, especially for international students. In general, most universities will require the following:
- Transcript of Grades (A level, AS level, GCSE)
- Admissions Test (SAT, ACT)
- Recommendation Letters (academic and non-academic)
- Essays (personal statement and supporting essay(s)
Transcript of Grades
You should have a copy of your exam results to date; if not you should ask your school for help. For A level and sixth form students in London, it is also helpful to include an explanation of the UK’s grading system and how it compares to the American.
Admission Tests include the SAT, SAT Subject Tests and ACT. These are general tests of aptitude and may be sat at various times throughout the year at centres throughout the world. For A level and sixth form students in London, the Fulbright Commission will provide you with more information. It is very important to check the requirement and deadline for applications for each university to which you wish to apply. Information regarding the international test dates for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests can be found on the College Board website. Information regarding the international test dates for the ACT can be found on the ATC website:. Often universities give students the choice between the SAT or the ACT. The SAT has three sections: Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Each section is marked out of 800, with the best universities requiring a total exceeding 2100 points. The ACT has five sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science and Writing. You should practice before you take these tests and may find many textbooks and practice exam papers available to help you do your best. The tests are scored in different manners and are therefore approached in different manners. SAT Subject (eg History, Physics, etc) Tests cover one subject and are required by some universities in addition to the SAT or ACT.
Most universities require two recommendation letters; usually one academic and one non-academic reference. Students should once again be alert to deadlines and give the referee the most time possible for a well-written and personalized recommendation letter.
The number and type of essays required will vary. All universities will require some type of personal statement. This is a chance for students to stand out, showing their interest in the university. A well-written personal statement is key to a successful university application. Universities may require additional essays; for example the additional essay questions from the Common Application last year included:
- Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
The best advice when considering an application to any university, American or otherwise, is to start researching the necessary steps as soon as possible. This is especially true for the admissions tests since they may require extra prep work.
Try to get involved in activities that complement your academic interests. The top American universities often pride themselves on recruiting “well-rounded” students. This means that in addition to an excellent academic profile, they are looking for students who participate in internships, volunteer work, clubs, and other various extra-curricular activities.