Preparing for College

How Will British GCSE Affect Ivy League Admission?

Question: I am currently studying under the British GCSE

(General Certificate of Secondary Education) system. How does that affect my admissions to Ivy League colleges in America?

American colleges and universities--especially the more sought-after ones like the Ivies--are quite accustomed to receiving applications from students who have been educated in the British system. Be sure to check each college's Web site for information that is specifically aimed at international students. Even if you are actually an American living abroad, you should still look for this info because you are likely to learn about how each college treats GCSE applicants. For instance, at some institutions, you may be able to submit A-Level results in lieu of required testing.

Example: From the Yale University Web site:

Students enrolled in A-level programs may use completed A-level results as a substitute for the SAT II Subject Tests on a one-for-one basis provided official test results arrive at Yale by February of 2010. Eligible students must still take either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT. Predicted A-level results may not be used as substitutions for the SAT II Subject Tests.

In addition, many U.S. schools will treat A-level scores like "Advanced Placement" exams, meaning that you can earn college credit for good results. Policies will vary from college to college so you can't assume that the practices at one institution will mirror those at the next, and you may have something of a treasure hunt ahead as you endeavor to find each school's policies on its Web site.

But the bottom line is that most admission offices have a staff member who is familiar with the GCSE system, and if you can't find the instructions you need on Web sites, don't hesitate to contact admission offices directly.

There are also a number of threads about GCSE students on the College Confidential discussion forum. You'll find some of them here: and here: here: you can find others by doing a search on CC.

Good luck to you as you navigate the often-confusing U.S. college process.