American student applying to LSE and other UK universities

I am an American high school student planning on applying to LSE and other schools in the U.K. I have done a fair bit of research into the U.K. admissions system and am already familiar after living in Europe for ten years. Still, I have not been able to find a good answer as to the importance of the high school GPA, especially concerning LSE. I know that U.K. universities put a ton of emphasis on your A.P. exams as they are the A-level or I.B. equivalent. This I am not so worried about. I scored a 5 in AP US history last year, and I am doing A.P. Bio, Stats, Lit, world, and euro this year (world and euro are self-studies my school doesn’t offer many A.P.s). I don’t have any predicted grades for these classes, nor will I predict them myself, so just know that I am practicing hard for the scores I need. Anyway, LSE’s U.S. undergrad requirements state that a 3.7 GPA is necessary. I am worried I will be rejected due to my lower GPA. I did not do excellent my freshman year (mostly B’s, nothing lower than a B-), which was right after I moved from Europe and was struggling to adjust to a new school system. Eventually, however, I got into the grove and moved to a better school. Ever since, my grades have been stellar (sorry, I don’t mean to bore you with my life story, just trying to give relevant context :slight_smile:). Unfortunately, my school doesn’t calculate GPA, so my calculations are between 3.5-3.6, which is annoying because it’s only .2-.1 less than the requirements. Anyway, if any person or student could grant some insight, that would be extremely helpful as I’ve seen a lot of forms/sources saying GPA plays no role, yet I am very concerned by this requirement.

Also, I thought I would mention I am applying for the History B.A. course at LSE. I am also aware (especially with LSE) of how vital the P.S. is in the application process.

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I wouldn’t be staying up nights worrying about the 3.6 v 3.7: you have to achieve the 5s in all 4 subjects before it’s even a question. I will say that one of the collegekids had offers from both LSE & Oxford- and the offer from LSE was harder than the offer from Oxford. You get 5 apps for the price of one- have you also considered Oxford, St Andrews, Durham or UCL?


Hi thanks for the response! Thats good to know about the GPA and I will definitely be working on those APs. I have put some thought into UCL and KCL for its history and war studies program. I would say KCL would be my number 2. I am familiar with London so I tend to gravitate their so I haven’t done much research into Durham or St. Andrews. Oxford obviously is extremely famous but idk if the deadlines, entrance exam, interview and so on are worth it if I am not in love with it. Also to clear one thing up I would be applying during a gap year so LSE’s conditions may not apply in that case.

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I never understand why KCL’s War College doesn’t get more attention- it is a fabulous program.

If you are applying with achieved results, you are right - it will be an up or down decision. StA’s & Durham are both very strong for history, and (if the environment suits you) are a great college experience.


One thing that I forgot to mention is I was accepted to a pretty good uni here in the U.S. Do you have any insight into doing a year there first and applying with some college grades. Do you know if this can be at all helpful. I’ve heard U.K unis are typically skeptical of AP rigor (which compared to my friends in Europe doing IB seems about right) so college credit could be helpful. I’ve also heard though that admission for transfer students can be extra hard (although I’ve only ever heard this when taking about oxbridge so idk how it may apply to LSE, KCL, UCL, etc)

Applying with college grades can certainly help with admissions, assuming they are As. But except in Scotland you are likely to be asked to start again from year 1 at most (higher ranked) universities.


I can’t speak to LSE specifically but when my daughter applied to the UK for English Literature, her GPA seemed to be irrelevant for most places, which was fortunate as it was very poor (3.1.)

However, she had decent AP and SAT results. She was accepted unconditionally by Birmingham, Edinburgh and Durham and rejected pre-interview from Cambridge (a bit of an over-reach!) At the time of her application, she had three 5’s (including one for English Literature) and two 4’s for her AP subjects.

She ended up going to Durham and loved it. She also didn’t seem to find the step up from AP level to English university first year level an issue although I suspect it might be different in the sciences where more specific knowledge might be assumed.

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As @Twoin18 indicated, the UK doesn’t really do transfers- you will be generally applying to be a first year. At some places / for some courses there is an ‘advanced standing’ option, in which if you have met certain specific criteria you can join a course at a specific entry point. The point of the year of college would be having a stronger application.

How much do you know about LSE as an undergrad experience? Not that you asked, but it wouldn’t be a leading choice for UG IMO- it’s much better as a grad experience. Do think past the famous name! London! 3 years! part and remember that there is a lot more to the lived experience of college. For example, like NYU, it is completely knit into the city- but unlike NYU, most UG housing is more than a mile from campus. The exception- International Hall- is only 1/2 mile from campus, but (like many student halls in London) is not exclusive to LSE (it’s a UofL building), so you would have dorm-mates from other universities. That is not good or bad in itself (one of the collegekids saw it as a plus)- but it makes for a different experience. Moving to a new place and creating a social network from scratch always has challenges, and a geographically dispersed cohort makes it more so. Not trying to dissuade you- just encouraging to look more deeply at what the reality would be like. Obviously, I don’t know how well you know London either- if you were living there before you moved to the US that’s one thing, if it’s a city you visited a bunch with your parents / on school trips that’s another!


My daughter, from the US, spent 3/yrs at Durham for History. One of the best schools for history in the UK and world ranked. Check in out!