How does a US student get into University of Edinburgh?

Yeah, I agree. I don’t know why they list such easy requirements for Americans except they want the $$. Maybe they don’t really admit kids with those scores. Lots of UK university entry requirements say things like, “must have achieved the US High School diploma with a 3.0” and the SAT or ACT score required will be 1250 or 27. That really that makes it seem like it’s a B-level university and not very challenging.

@ACUNI123 are you from the UK? Are you familiar with the US system? The “alternative” route to get into college here is test optional. The standard route is to take the SAT and/or ACT. I think that a 1250-1280 on the SAT is a “good” score, not a “great” score or an “excellent” score. It’s not a super high bar and almost every student applying to college in the US is going to take the ACT or SAT. Many states require it whether you are going to college or not. North Carolina requires the ACT for all high school juniors even the ones who are going into the trades and won’t be doing any more studying. Some students choose not to submit their scores to colleges, of course, and go test optional, but it would be very unusual for a student from the US to have 3 AP test scores and NOT also have an SAT or ACT score. I’m sure there are a few students like that, but that would not be the norm.

because of COVID cancelling all test dates in some parts of the country and because Collegeboard has discontinued SAT Subject tests (where a 700 was often used as a substitute for an AP result as far as UK universities were concerned) there will be American students applying to British universities without sufficient scores, which the UK universities used instead of GPA (except St A’s.)
Students who attend UGlasgow with a 1280 and 2 APs would be better adviser doing a “Foundation year” first.

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We are in a very tricky situation - I would appreciate advice from anyone who has insight into this shift away from Subject SATs for UK university admissions.

For various (sport) reasons my British daughter has been at boarding school in the US for the last 4 years. Before she left she was a hard-working academic scholar at a rigorous UK private girls school where it was thought she was on the pathway to Oxbridge, Russell group etc. However we really liked the idea of sport and US college etc. and the Olympic dream was strong…

As it turns out there are only a dozen US colleges that recruit for her sport and the numbers are tiny (2 pa) - and even smaller if you are hoping to combine strong academics and athletics.

However we have always thought that she would be able to come back to the UK for University if she didn’t get a roster spot - through good scores on subject tests etc. Unfortunately her school does not do AP’s and we had planned for her to study for subject tests over this summer to be ready for applications in the fall. She has fantastic academic (and personal) reports from her school but NO public exams to back it up.

Consequently I just can’t see how she can get back into the UK system if none of these US college coaches pull for her.
Ideally an Edinburgh, St Andrews, Durham, Warwick, Bristol, Exeter, London Unis would have been her aim.

Do any offer foundation years for those that have had unusual education paths? (I’m confident she will excel at UK education as the rigour instilled in her early years is clearly still there, despite missing the huge amounts of knowledge that comes from GCSE and A-level study).

What happens to those kids without AP’s? Or do most US schools do them…

Advice very gratefully received. (Sorry for hijacking post).

You can self study for APs, and if her high school foundation is good and she is a good exam taker, it might work for her. I seem to recall a few students from the US getting into Oxford that way. It is certainly excellent preparation for the learning culture at UK schools.

Of course it would have been easier to apply with test scores done and dusted and a chance at an unconditional offer, but this is just another corona casualty your family must deal with.

This way, her teachers at her boarding school must predict AP grades for her, but it shouldn’t be an insurmountable hurdle.

What is the problem with applying the US or Canadian colleges the regular way, if there are no recruiting spots? Grades? Finances? You just want her back?

Could she get to a country (Canada?) where they offer subject tests in June?

Thank you. I hadn’t thought about self-study for AP - she had planned to self-study for the SAT subject test - so would it be be the same process? Ie get some books work hard and sign up for some test dates?

She wants to come back to the UK eventually - so the very high costs of US college only seems to make sense if it keeps her sporting dreams alive (for which we will sacrifice our retirement funds). Also - undoubtedly unfairly - only certain colleges have good brand name recognition in the UK - so the $300K+ cost has to be weighed up against future career benefits. Although I have wondered if she should do a year at US college and then try to transfer to the UK…

And yes - we really miss her too…

Thank you for idea. The last testing date coincides with her high school graduation… which she wouldn’t miss for the world although we’re not sure we’ll be able to attend :frowning:

She is then planning a PG year to focus on sport predominantly and college apps.

What about trying for a late registration for the May test date?
May and June international dates are the only 2 left.
Note that for APs she’d need to register in November for the May test date.

Unfortunately she’s just not able to travel back from the US without huge complications - 10 day quarantine on arriving in UK…and then another week on returning to her school.

Travel has been so hard this year - she came home for 2 weeks over Christmas but thats all we’ve seen of her since school started in August last year… we get her back after graduation in June :slight_smile:

And realistically she’s not ready for these test in two weeks as we thought they were no longer relevant.

Then there isn’t much choice: she has to email each university and ask how they’ll handle applicants from US boarding schools that don’t offer AP’s now that the subject tests are no longer being offered. Hopefully there will be 5 from your list that will have thought about what to do about it. With Brexit having cut European applicants by 50% most British universities are becoming more accomodating to students with “non traditional” (no tests) backgrounds.

Yes - I think thats wise advice. I will work with her over the summer to come up with a list to contact. Of-course we’re still praying the coach pull comes and this all goes away…

I’m also wondering about the self-study AP route…

You’d have to find out whether UK schools will accept predicted grades from her senior teachers if she takes her APs during her PG year. Will her GCs support her during that time?

I’m sorry that the US college admissions season didn’t go as hoped.

There are a fair few top boarding schools that offer a PG year which is a much better bet than a foundation year in the UK.She can do her sport, take another swing at recruitment, and prep for Oxbridge/others by self-studying for APs in subjects she is strong in. For some (esp. Lang & Lit) her background should be strong enough that she just needs to learn the test format/tips & tricks. You’d want to get cracking on the applications though!

Thank you for the idea - it would have been great if she did anything remotely normal - but sadly her sport is super-awkward and inaccessible. She also has the European Youth Olympics and World Juniors over the next year (fingers crossed) so she will need
to keep training with a group of similar athletes. The struggle is trying to keep the athletics moving forwards as well as the academics- both at a decent level… self-study is really wonderful because of the flexibility…
But I guess if she doesn’t make a US college team then its game over for the athletics anyway…

If she is not in a US college, where will she be training? There are PG years at some international boarding schools (perhaps in a country where her sport is more available than the US?).

If Plan B is that she goes home to the UK and trains locally for the international competitions then the foundation year choices are limited to the unis in striking distance. Otherwise, a foundation year at UCL would put her in uni in London.

There are specialist athletic groups/teams in Europe she can join for the PG year…I’m trying to figure that out now but it sure would be nice to have her closer to home.

UK Uni and sport will not mix - especially for her sport - so UK Uni would be the end to her sporting journey…which is why we are pinning hopes on US colleges. I didn’t know about the foundation year at UCL - that sounds really interesting…do you know how I find out about it and whether she would be eligible. The athletics has to finish at some point - I’m just trying not to burn her education options by letting her pursue athletics for as long as possible.

Here’s the link to their application info: How to apply | UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE) - UCL – University College London

Applications are open through July (or until the course fills up). Afaik, it’s one of the better foundation years- almost everybody gets an offer from UCL. If she stays with an English uni she will graduate from college when her HS friends are also graduating (3 year v 4 year degree).

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I can’t speak to all the schools. However, My D19 attended a private HS which does not offer APs. She and 3 of her fellow classmates attend St. Andrews and the year before at least one student I know decided to attended Durham.

She submitted her ACT score and her GPA and that was it.


Her education will still be there in a year, two years, three years. I know it’s tempting to tell your kid “just get on with it already”, but her intellectual engagement doesn’t have a “sell by” date. I had a cousin who took her shot at dancing with a major ballet company- to her parent’s chagrin even though her training had been an all-consuming part of the family’s life for over a decade. Dancers don’t last long- and she DID go to college, and has a satisfying career-- just not in the same order as the other people from her high school!

Do not overthink the self-studying for the AP exams. A LOT of kids in the US do it- many less motivated and less well-prepared than your D. And my observation (I am not an educator, so take with a grain of salt) is that a strong, well organized writer (which your D likely is coming out of boarding school and a strong academic UK middle school) can easily prep for English, History, Lit AP exams. Being able to construct a tight and logical essay in a timed situation gets her more than halfway where she needs to be!

Good luck to you guys- it’s hard missing your child!


Thank you all for such helpful and encouraging replies.

We have tried to encourage her to follow her goals and take the less well-trodden path but we sure do lose a lot of sleep over whether we are burning educational bridges along the way…

You have all given me some interesting options and ideas and reassurances - I’m very grateful…

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