What Kind of Test Scores Do British Colleges Expect From Americans?

When applying to British colleges, are American applicants supposed to report AP and SAT Subject Test Scores that are specifically relevant to their major? For example, if I want to study classics at King’s, and they require 3 AP test scores in order for applicants to be considered for admission, should those scores be in subjects such as Latin and Italian? I want to study classics at schools like Oxbridge, UCL, King’s College, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, etc, and I do not know what AP classes I should take this year in order to be considered for admission. Not to mention that a major problem for me is that my school doesn’t offer AP classes in Latin or Italian, and I can only take AP classes not relevant to my intended majors. Could I report scores not relevant to my intended major in areas such as Environmental Science and Economics, yet still get in to these schools?

While I didn’t apply to any UK schools last year, while reading through the schools’ admissions websites for international students, there’s usually a section devoted to the USA that offers advice about what test scores you should take, in what subjects, required minimum scores etc. (this info might be listed on the course’s website as well.)

As an example, Cambridge’s International Qualifications page for the USA offers detailed explanations of what they’re looking for from American applicants: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/usa

The Admissions Office ALWAYS has the final say on an application, so definitely contact them if you have any questions about admission: that’s why they’re there!

Btw UCAS will NOT let you apply to BOTH Oxford and Cambridge, ONLY one or the other (likely to reduce applications given the amount of students who would otherwise apply to both.)

Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!

You need to report all AP scores (and your reference needs to predict scores for the coming year) and the university will determine whether that is sufficient to offer you a place.

With regard to subjects, look at what is recommended for British applicants in terms of A level subjects and try to match your AP course choices to that. In particular a course that requires A level Latín (ie not ab initio) means your application is unlikely to be strong enough without AP Latin or an equivalent dual enrollment course at a local college. Conversely an ab initio course will usually have applicants with A level English (AP Lang and AP Lit for US applicants) and at least one foreign language plus possibly history or philosophy.

Note that the depth of many UK classicists is way beyond what is normally possible to cover in the US, it’s not unusual for Oxford applicants to have 5+ years of both Latin and Ancient Greek so it is one of the more challenging subjects for a US applicant to consider.

My D18 was accepted to St. Andrews unconditionally in Biology with 33 ACT and several SAT Subject test scores of 700+, and a mixture of 4s and 5s on various APs. They tend to accept US students in ways very similar to US universities.

She was ‘conditionally’ accepted to Edinborough and Durham – she had applied to Biology to both as well and was taking AP Bio her senior year. In order to confirm acceptance, I think Edinborough wanted to see a Bio Subject test of 650 or greater and Durham wanted to see a 5 on the AP Bio test.

It was weird that Durham asked for AP test b/c of course those scores don’t come until July which is after need to deposit at an American school. Of course, she could have and then just lost that $$. I imagine this hurts their efforts to get US students, but I’m sure they have their reasons.

Anywho, she decided she didn’t want to go to school in UK so it became a moot point for her.

It’s worse for UK students, who don’t get their scores until August! The UK system works on ‘conditional’ offers: your offer is ‘conditional’ on achieving your predicted scores.

@collegemom3717 – yeah, I kinda knew that. What I meant to say is that it’s so different from the US system so it prolly makes it hard to get a lot of US students. I think that’s why St. Andrews which seems to want to get a lot of US students does it differently. Her acceptance there was not conditional.

Of course, if my D had taken AP Bio in 11th grade she might have gotten an unconditional offer, I suppose. So that’s something for students who want to go to college in the UK to think about – take APs for their intended course as early as reasonable (and of course do well on the AP exams).

The Conditional Process kinda blew-,up this year due to Covid, and A-Level Exams not being held. Initially, the algorithm used to determine the score the student probably would have achieved underscored… to much complaint…so the decision was reversed and the Scores became based on the Predicted Grades…which is what Conditional Offers are based on - “Your teacher says you will get an A on the exam. We conditionally grant you admission IF you achieve that score” (there are typically a group of exams that have to be passed by a certain grade to meet your conditions).

Well, by making your score the Predicted Score, you effectively guaranteed admission to many students. St Andrews expected an incoming class of 7,000…they HAVE an incoming class of 9,000! And accomodations in traditional halls for far fewer than these 9,000. They have quickly identified accommodations in Dundee and Leuchars - but students have to take public/private transportation AND there will not be a reduction in fees charged.

Please end soon 2020

But how do you get predicted scores? Does your teacher just say in their letters of recommendation, “I think this student will get an A or score a 5 on his AP classes and exams?”

They don’t care about class grades, only test scores. And yes, your reference should give a predicted score for each individual AP test. It had better be realistic because you might receive a conditional offer that requires you to achieve the prediction in whatever subset of the APs the university chooses. And the credibility of the reference will be lessened if you previously got 3s and 4s and now are being predicted all 5s unless the rationale for that improvement is explained.

Predicted scores are the norm in UK sixth form and teachers are generally accurate in predictions.

Predicted scores are not the norm in US schools (and are less accurate historically) so UK unis will likely only focus on actusls.

“Initially, the algorithm used to determine the score the student probably would have achieved underscored… to much complaint…”

Actually it didn’t overall, grades were up, but some individuals did suffer, and more thought they did. Hence the protests and poorly thought out decision to revert to CAGs.

“But how do you get predicted scores? Does your teacher just say in their letters of recommendation, “I think this student will get an A or score a 5 on his AP classes and exams?””


(Although the grades students were finally awarded this year were actually based on Centre Assessed Grades, which is what the teachers told the exam board their students would have got in the exams. Cue massive grade inflation. However, these were still often lower than the predictions given to unis.

“Predicted scores are the norm in UK sixth form and teachers are generally accurate in predictions.”

Not as much as you might think, they tend to be optimistic/aspirational. Lots of students miss the predicted grades.

In the UCAS form is where they supply the predicted score. Keep in mind that the teacher is assessed for the accuracy of their predictions as well…so it is not an “everybody gets a trophy/A*”

So would my teachers have to get me two seperate letters of recommendation? One for American schools without predicted grades, and one letter with predicted grades for UK schools? Would my teachers even know HOW to write these letters of recommendation considering they have never written these types of letters before?

You only submit 1 LoR for the UK- and it is very, very different in form and style to a US LoR. The focus is on your academic suitability for the course.

Your LoR can come from your teacher in the subject that you are applying to study or your GC/CC

There is good advice on writing an LoR for the UK here:


And you should help your referee prep by giving them some info about the course you are applying to study, and some bullet points as to why you are a good fit for the course.

Collegemom3717, thanks so much for all your good advice. I am learning a lot about how it works in the UK.

Thanks for the help. What AP classes and SAT Subject scores should I report if I want to study classics? Can I submit any random test scores? Because my only relevant subject to classics is Italian.

As @Twoin18 noted in post #2, you must list all taken and planned AP & Subject tests (with achieved/predicted scores).

No history? no english? both are very relevant, for content and for course (Classics is an essay-based course, so the ability to write well is highly relevant). I know that Oxford asks you to submit essays as part of your application (also the CAT, but I assume you have sorted that).

You ask the question as though you have a choice; you don’t. You have to send them all.