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Chances of acceptance to UK schools?

nellybelly29nellybelly29 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
Hi everyone. I am currently a junior (third year) at an American High School. I was wondering if any of you who have experience with the UK and American systems could help give me a general idea of my chances of getting into uni in the United Kingdom. I am looking at The University of Edinburgh, The University of St. Andrews, The London School of Economics, King's College London, and UCL.

My stats are as follows:
GPA: 3.6 (low I know, math is a killer)
SAT: 800 Reading, 600 Math, 640 Writing (1400 on 1600 scale, 2040 on 2400 scale)
ACT: 31 Composite
APs: 4 on American History; I am taking the US Government and English Language tests in a few weeks. Next year I expect to take European History and Spanish Language.
Extra Curricular: Environmental Endeavors, Spanish Honor Society, Spanish Club, International Relations Club, violin (private lessons, orchestra, music festivals), tennis, softball, Mandarin Chinese lessons

I am wanting to study International Relations or Political Science. I have a global background and speak four languages. My guidance counselor has never had a student want to study in the UK before, so I am on my own when it comes to applying. I just would like to know if I have even a remote shot of being accepted to a uni overseas (even if it is just a conditional offer).

Thank you so much in advance!

Replies to: Chances of acceptance to UK schools?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,667 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    You will find lots of info on a UK site called the s t u d e n t room (sorry about the spacing but CC stars it out otherwise).

    The UK system is actually quite straight forward.

    First, you apply only to one subject, and you only study that subject for the whole time. Most courses in England are 3 years, and in Scotland 4. Extremely detailed information on each course at each university- down to the classes you take each year- is available on all the college websites (though sometimes you have to do a little digging). For example, here are the course schedule and class options for IR at Edinburgh (great course & great city, btw...):

    http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/undergrad/prospective_students/programmes/politics/programme_structure http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/undergrad/subject_and_programme_specific_information/pir/programme_specs

    Second, the admissions requirements for each course are also on the websites. In general, you will want to check both the requirements for UK and US students, as both give you useful information.

    For example, the requirements for US students to go to Edinburgh are:


    As you can see, you need at least a high school diploma plus 1800 SAT and 2 subject tests @ 650 or 2 APs with scores of 4. Based on that you are in good shape. However, that is a minimum, and some subjects have higher requirements. So go over to the subject specific page for IR (note that virtually unis have a "degree finder" page, which is where you find useful specifics on the courses). Also, note the number of courses under "IR" - each one counts as one of the 5 MAX that you can apply to in the UK. Anyway,


    You will see both a minimum and a typical offer. Most UK students apply on their predicted A level scores, they get their offers conditional on achieving certain scores, then sit their A level exams in June and get their results in early August- and start uni in Sept/Oct. Edinburgh makes it clear that they accept an AP score of 4 as equal to an A level A, but LSE requires a 5; Edinburgh will also accept a 650 on an SAT II as equivalent to an A, where LSE would require a mid-700.

    So for IR you can figure that 3 good scores would be sufficient, and that they would like to see some English in the mix. However, IR is a competitive program, so aim higher than the typical offer.

    A couple of other points. First, there are two levels of AP (http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/explore-your-options/entry-requirements/tariff-tables/app), so US Gov for example only counts as 1/2 an AP. To get to 3 I would suggest adding some SATIIs- you might be able to avoid a conditional offer. Also, APs that are not relevant to your subject won't count (so if you had a math AP it would not be relevant for IR). In some cases there are very specific required subjects, though that is not the case with IR at Edinburgh.

    Second, your ECs are not interesting to them EXCEPT as they relate to the subject you are applying to study. For you, just the IR club and Chinese (and your languages) would be relevant (though you can mention music at the very end as a significant part of you (also, fyi, I know a number of students at Edinburgh who have found the student music groups to be a great part of their experience).

    Third, the other key piece of your application will be your Personal Statement (PS). There is a lot of help available on the UK site, but the basic point is that the PS is different than the US essay. It is where you make your case for why you are a great candidate to study your subject- to show some maturity of thought on why you are interested in the subject and demonstrate that your interest goes beyond the classroom.

    Which brings up the UCAS thing. The UK system is that everybody applies through UCAS. You pay one fee, and you submit one PS and one recommendation, and it goes to all 5 things you apply to. That can be 1 course at each of 5 unis, or 5 courses in 1 uni or any combination therein. There are about a half a dozen unis that can be applied to through the Common App (including St Andrews) so you could do St Andrews through Common App and the others through UCAS.

    Finally, for you LSE and KCL are probably out, as in practice, 3 5s on APs are the minimum needed (LSE seems to pride itself on having higher conditions than Oxbridge!). UCL will accept 4s, but they want 5 APs. St Andrews is practically American- they will, for example, look at GPA- and you wouldn't be on the higher end of stats I've seen be accepted, but I wouldn't rule it out either. So, of the ones listed I would say the Scottish ones are the most likely.

  • nordicbluenordicblue Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    I agree with all that collegemom3717 has said, apart from what they said UCL accepting 4s.

    I'm just wondering what course at UCL were you thinking of applying for? They don’t do straight IR or Political Science. Unless you're getting 5s at AP I don’t think UCL is a realistic option for you.

    They have a Politics and Eastern European Studies degree which is based at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (SSEES) - it is very Russian-centric, if you're not interested in Eastern Europe and the former USSR then don't apply. The entry requirements - 5,5,5,4,4 in five (relevant) APs

    UCL also has the European Social and Political Studies degree, you could 'major' in either politics or IR but you have to take a language for four years and there's a compulsory year abroad. The entry requirements are high - at least 5,5,5,5,4 in five (relevant) APs.
  • nellybelly29nellybelly29 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    @‌nordicblue I actually had taken UCL off my list a while back, but I was used to listing it off as a school I am interested in, so I won't be applying to any courses at UCL, they don't have courses I want and I am much more interested in the other schools. Thanks for the response! It was quite helpful.

    @collegemom3717 Thank you so much for your response. It was very thorough and helped me quite a bit. :)
  • qwidgiboqwidgibo Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    You should look at SOAS. It is a top IR school and focusses on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Its part of UoL and is renowned amongst poli sci people for its top courses. Becuase of its narrower focus, it has the top professors in the world in these subjects. Depending on which languages you speak, you can get a degree in IR+Chinese or Arabic or some other language. I speak English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, and I know that French is offered through a partnership with UCL as SOAS has only non-European languages on offer.

    I had pretty similar stats to you and I applied to St Andrews, SOAS, Edinburgh, and LSE for International Relations and got into all 4. I had maybe a 3.9 HS GPA and also about 60 college credits with 4.0 college GPA, but if you do well on AP tests, St Andrews should be a pretty realistic shot especially as they accept a lot of Americans while the rest are about 50/50.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,667 Senior Member
    Agree with qwidgibo about SOAS, but not that the stats are similar: the college credits make a big difference. So far OP has only 1 AP, and that is a 4- in a relevant subject. Even with 5s on English Lit and US Gov (which is a "B" AP, so only counts as ~ 1/2), she would be applying with a 5,5,4. That is definitely not enough for LSE. Adding some SATIIs would help, esp with scores over 700.
  • keldipowkeldipow Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    I do not know much about the English universities but I do know some about the Scottish universities. You are a strong candidate, in my opinion, for U of Edinburgh and St. Andrews. St. Andrews has a very reputable IR dept. The English university is for three years and you only study one subject the whole time - nothing else. The Scottish is kind of a combination of English and U.S. where for the first two years you can study three course (modules) and should you decide to change your mind you can switch your "major" to one of the other two modules. The last two years you complete the honors program - which is focusing solely on your "major" (from an American's perspective, they don't call it major).
    Do well on your Eng. Lit and Govt AP's, of course. They'd like to see 5's. Your GPA and SAT/ACT scores look very good - especially given the strength of your reading score. I don't know what state you are from but look at upcoming large college fairs and see what international universities will be represented. My daughter visited Uni of St. Andrews, Uni of Edinburgh, Uni of Glasgow and Oxford at local college fairs or open school presentations. The universities usually have the dates when they will be in the U.S. and what cities they will be in posted on their websites. My daughter found it very helpful to talk to the representative directly and ask about her concerns regarding her chances of admission. Do you have an international school in your area? They can be very helpful even if you don't go there. My daughter attends (about to graduate) a large public high school and getting guidance for an international university was non-existent. We ended up sending out emails to both a British school and an International School (we live in a large city) and the counselor from the international school was very happy to help us and we found him to very informative. The international school also happened to be a "UCAS Center" so they had several students, who did not attend the international school, go there for help submitting the UCAS. FYI, St. Andrews will also accept the U.S. Common App and they also have their own application but that is only for students who will only be applying to St. Andrews and no other UK university.
    I agree with Collegemom - your general extra-curriculars don't matter but you need to have something that shows that you are committed to studying IR/Politics such as participating in the Student UN and/or volunteering for a political campaign. You need to also be aware, if you are not, that the UK doesn't offer scholarships like would be offered at an American University.
    You are now beginning the process my daughter just ended. Again, I don't know much about the English universities but I do believe you have a strong chance of getting an offer from a university in Scotland (it might be conditional).
    Best of Luck to you!
  • lselselselselselselselse Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    From which university did you apply to LSE? I am an American student.Can I apply to LSE from University of Edinburgh? What are the requirements?
  • sportygirl25sportygirl25 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Hey can two sat subject II tests count as one AP 5?
  • nellybelly29nellybelly29 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Sorry for the late reply...from my understanding two SATIIs should count as one AP 5 as long as they're solid scores.
  • excanuck99excanuck99 Registered User Posts: 378 Member
    APPLY and find out. Don't ask other students. Seriously, I got into all my UK universities and did not have stellar "stats". Best thing to do is apply. You will be surprised. You should also note that the big East Coast private schools are sending many students to the UK, so British universities are getting accustomed to them. Of course they are also from brilliant students, so they set the bar high.
This discussion has been closed.