7 Steps To Apply To UK & US

Let’s understand what all things are needed to apply to the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) for higher education

When meeting 8th or 9th-grade students who want to build a strong profile to get into some of the most competitive colleges in the US, they are often confused about the boards. Do you really think board matters? Many times parents of kids studying in CBSE, ICSE or state boards are looking to transfer them to IB or GCSE curriculum. 

Higher education in the United States vs the United Kingdom

For the United States, one needs good high school grades, SAT/ACT scores, essays and LORs(letter of recommendations) to apply and similarly for the UK except for the SAT scores for most of the colleges. Nowadays, because of the pandemic, even many US colleges have exempted SAT scores due to the pandemic. Before the pandemic, there was a requirement for subject SATs to showcase particular subject mastery which has also been discontinued as of now. Therefore any kind of academic excellence is largely shown through 9th till 12th-grade marks and SAT/ACT scores. Some students take APs (Advanced Placement exams) and/or other courses for college credit, which is another method to showcase your academic rigour.

Indian & International Boards

Now, let's understand the nuances of different boards in detail. The kind of board your child is studying doesn't matter, not even for IVY league colleges. Having seen enough students from CBSE and ICSE students getting into some of the best schools in the US. Boards have a way of establishing your academic hygiene, which happens irrespective of the board. The only exception here is the state boards - which may not receive equivalent weightage or recognition outside India. In such cases, it is recommended to change your board. In either case, obviously, a great performance on your boards is a strong indicator of your success in college applications.

Another point, the methodology used in teaching in all these boards is different. For example, CBSE focuses on memorisation and content extensiveness while the IB board focuses on more research-based learning. Since, all kids are not comfortable with all pedagogical practices, finding the right teaching method which goes well with the child is important. Contextually, IB and GCSE boards are more expensive for a kid to study in, approximately 3-4 times more expensive; and that becomes another key consideration in your decision.

The third point to touch upon is the timeframe within which you can change the board. Typically in India, International schools have an IGCSE curriculum in grades 9 and 10 while they stick to IB boards in grades 11 and 12. Since A levels don’t offer significant subject variety, (typically 3 subjects only), Indian students have shied away from A levels usually in their senior high school.

Remember the applications for your ward would go at the start of grade 12. And since a fair amount of time is spent in transition, a change of boards in grade 11 is a strict No. In fact, most students who change boards in grade 11 spend most of the time getting adjusted to the new ecosystem - valuable time that could have been spent in building their profile and/or deepening their relationships with their referees. As a result, such students usually are not successful, especially in very difficult and competitive universities. A good time to change is grade 8 or 9, which gives your child ample time to adjust to the new realities.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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