UK applicant questions

<p>I'm hoping to apply to some of the highly ranked colleges. Specifically, I am currently planning to apply to: Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford and Amherst. I did try searching for previous threads about a few issues that I've had, but haven't been able to find anything. I realise that I have a lot of questions, so if you can't answer them all, then I would appreciate your feedback on whichever ones you can answer.</p>

<p>I also know that I'm aiming high. Quite simply, if I don't get into a college that offers complete financial support, I can't go. I'll study in the UK, where although probably higher, they will be covered by a government loan. </p>

<p>1) The SAT reasoning test. From their websites, I got the impression that most of the colleges I'm applying to have a ~2100 cut-off for domestic students, yet most of the posts here seem to consider that the real cut-off is 2200-2300. How does this change for internationals? They say that extra consideration is given due to unfamiliarity with the test, yet there is more competition with international places. Will this go up or down?</p>

<p>2) I am slightly concerned about my score. I took the test today, and I have the feeling that it did not go well. I am expecting 2000 - 2300 range, where on practice tests I was achieving 2250 - 2400. I got the impression that this test is administered to measure intelligence, so if I have done badly, is it possible to substitute an IQ test or to supplement my application with one? (I have a 1st percentile score, administered under exam conditions) I won't have the opportunity to retake the SAT before the application deadline, so this would be much more convenient. </p>

<p>3) SATII / A-levels. Only Yale is willing to allow the substitution of A-levels for SAT subject tests. Does this mean that the other colleges will not properly consider them? I don't have many concerns about getting good scores in the SATII, but for applications to the UK A-levels are the deciding factor. I have fewer ECs because of the number of A-levels that I took last year. As a result, I know have A<em>Aaaa(A), with an A</em>A<em>A</em>A<em>a prediction, if that means anything to you :) (By comparison, oxbridge admission offers are typically AAA - A</em>A*Aa). Will this be considered as a major factor in my application, or will my A-level results simply be used if I am considered to be borderline?</p>

<p>4) ECs. I get the impression that the people who make admissions decisions have a list of 'deprived' areas and 'rich' areas, and have EC expectations to match. How does this work with international applicants? There an't many activities where I live, but I've tried to make the most of them. I am a member of many of the regional scientific societies, for example. However, even attending the lectures that these hold is a 3 hour round trip. Should I highlight this at the interview, in my application, or will they be aware that I live a fair distance from a city? (liverpool, which is 1 - 1.5 hours each way) Compared to my friends, the list of extra-curricular activities I do is extremely good, but I haven't won international competitions, and they don't really stack up to those that I've seen posted in these forums.</p>

<p>5) Community service. As I mentioned earlier, ECs aren't a real factor in UK admissions. Therefore, I didn't do much community service. The closest I can think of for this ~30 hours of mentoring younger students. Is this going to be a major issue? Is there anything I can do about it? </p>

<p>6) Visiting colleges. Separated by a trans-atlantic flight, it isn't very practical for me to visit the colleges that I want to apply for. Obviously, I intend to do so if I am offered a place, but will this go against me? My family has enough money that I could not have requested a fee waiver, if I lived in america, and that I will not be able to ask for application fees to be waived. However, we don't have enough to take multiple trips to the USA. Should I write this somewhere in the application?</p>

<p>7) Essay. Can I re-use parts of my personal statement (this is a description of why we want to study the course that we've applied for, and an explanation of why the activities we do will help us on our course), or should I write them from scratch? I don't want to start writing them until I get my SAT results, will this be too late?</p>

<p>8) Transcript. Due to the number of subjects that I studies last year, which was double the usual amount, my actual module scores are generally low. (high 80%s - low 90%s). I also received 2 Bs in general studies modules (which are not generally counted for admissions in the UK), and a D in a Maths module (with <em>very</em> minor mitigating circumstances). Can I leave the module grades out too? Just leaving in the overall grades for each subject?</p>

<p>9) Choice of subject. Although I know that I would like to study a scientific area, I'm not sure which one. I am specifically interested in Computer science, geology, chemistry, and physics. In the UK, I am applying for natural science courses. Can I list 'natural sciences' as my major? Will they understand the term?</p>

<p>Hey, hopefully this will help.</p>

<p>1) There is no stated cutoff for SAT scores for top American colleges, unlike their UK counterparts. However, for the colleges you've mentioned the normal unhooked application would probably need a score in the ballpark of 1450+ (for schools that don't consider writing) and 2150+ for schools that do. Having 1500/2250+ will make your application that much more solid. Unfortunately, there is no standard score in the US that is needed for admission.</p>

<p>2) Unfortunately American colleges will not accept an "IQ" test as a valid substitute for an SAT. I'm pretty sure you can report legitimate tests such as Stanford-Binet but don't expect that to count for much. You can always take the ACT which is a bit more knowledge-based than the SAT if you are worried.</p>

<p>3) Considering that you probably won't have a GPA, your AS results and A2 predictions will be key, I would imagine. Your GCSE is probably also important but I really can't say. The fact that you're carrying what is it 5 A-Levels is good on its own.</p>

<p>4) Extra-curricular activities player a much bigger role in US admissions than they do for UK, you're right. But don't let that delude you into thinking that the generally "well-rounded" extra-curriculars posted on this forum and such is something that you need. When I've spoken with adcoms, and I might be wrong of my impression, the only time extra-curriculars matter to a great extent is if something truly outstanding is done. Other than that obviously they are important but you won't be penalized for not having made something of what you don't have!</p>

<p>5) Some colleges might ask you to elaborate on your ECs or Community Service activities that are important to you. If those 30 hours are really important than please do mention it, if they are not then it won't hurt you and you can mention it in the "what have you done" list briefly.</p>

<p>6) I doubt many colleges would pay for you to visit them before they offer you admission and even then I'm not too sure what their policies would be. </p>

<p>7) I'd suggest you start from scratch. Your UCAS essay will be a lot more academic in nature than your American essays should be. And small excerpts that you might want to borrow from your PS are better rewritten in the context of the essay you are then writing then roughly pasted from the PS. But feel free to use the ideas you mentioned in the PS to explain more about who you are.</p>

<p>8) I don't think you can leave the module grades out. For international students from the UK and other CIE systems Harvard at least has a coversheet transcript which includes module grades, someone more experienced should correct me if I'm wrong.</p>

<p>9) The most you can list as a "major" for American colleges is an "area of interest" on the common app, and I don't the natsci is offered as a choice. Anyhow it won't matter at all unless you're applying for engineering.</p>

<p>3) I think the colleges besides Yale see the A-levels as being more similar to APs/transcript than to SAT IIs. It doesn't mean they aren't important for admissions here, just that they don't see them as analogous to the subject tests.</p>