How To Prepare For US University Admissions
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How To Prepare For US University Admissions

For those familiar with the UK system, understanding the US university application process can be challenging. A-List Education, with its expertise in guiding students to their top US university choices since 2005, offers a clear and concise guide that highlights the key differences between the two systems.

A-List Education staff members

A-List Education helps students gain a place at prestigious universities in the US (Image credit: Stephanie O’Callaghan)

Here are some key differences you should know:

  • Application Process: In the US, students apply to the university as a whole and declare their major later, unlike the UK where you apply for a specific course.
  • Standardised Tests: US admissions often require SAT or ACT scores, whereas UK universities focus more on A-level or IB results.
  • Essays and Extracurriculars: US applications emphasise personal essays and a student’s extracurricular involvement, which is less prominent in the UK system.
  • Liberal Arts Education: US universities typically offer a broader curriculum in the first two years, allowing for more academic flexibility.
  • Duration and Cost: US undergraduate degrees usually take four years and can be more expensive, whereas UK degrees are typically three years.

When is the best time to start?

This question goes beyond just the timing, it’s about strategic planning. While it is possible to begin preparations during Year 13, it can be quite stressful. Instead, they highly recommend starting your planning in Year 10. This will allow you to spread out your responsibilities and make the process more structured and manageable.

They have created an academic roadmap to help you visualise the necessary steps for applying to a US university.

Year 10: Consult a US university advisor about your chosen GCSE courses and extracurriculars to stay on track. Discuss with your family if a US university education aligns with your aspirations. Consider enrolling in a US university summer program to familiarise yourself with the US education style. 

Year 11: Regularly meet with your US college advisor to review the application process, discuss extracurricular progress, and strategise on leadership roles and internships. Delve into the nuances of A-level or IB courses. Take a diagnostic SAT/ACT test during summer break. 

Year 12: Begin tutoring for the SAT/ACT and limit test trials for productive use of time. Invest time and effort into extracurricular activities, showcasing commitment and passion. Start crafting essays early to showcase your personality. 

Year 13: Finalise your college list, polish essays, and consider early application strategies. Complete the Common App by January. Collaborate with your advisor to evaluate offers. By May 1, make your decision. Start college by the end of August.

For almost two decades, A-List Education has been a valuable partner for students aspiring to attend prestigious universities in the United States. Their mission goes beyond simply helping students secure university placements; they are dedicated to nurturing personal growth, academic progress, and achievement in their chosen fields. They offer expert guidance in SAT and ACT preparation, university consulting, and academic mentoring. For personalised advice, call their consultancy team at +44 (0)20 3004 8101 or email [email protected]. Discover the possibilities of studying in a US university with their complimentary discovery session. Fill out the form here to secure your free 15-minute session.