Top Misconceptions About Applying To UK & US Unversities

Here at Wentworth Education we often need to demystify the process of applying to US and UK universities and debunk many commonly held beliefs that are simply wrong. Here are five of the most commonly believe, but wrong, conceptions about applying to US and UK universities.

Top Misconceptions About Applying To UK & US Unversities

Here at Wentworth Education we often need to demystify the process of applying to US and UK universities and debunk many commonly held beliefs that are simply wrong. Here are five of the most commonly believe, but wrong, conceptions about applying to US and UK universities.

Top Misconceptions About Applying To UK & US Unversities

Applying to university can seem like a foreign language to even the most modern parent.

  • "Did you hear about Alice? Such a shame! Rejected from the pool."
  • "We're sending Johnny to build homes in Kenya. HYPS love that these days."
  • "Susie is applying to ASNAC in Murray Edwards; it's niche and so will boost her odds."

Here at Wentworth Education we often need to demystify the process of applying to US and UK universities and debunk many commonly held beliefs that are simply wrong. Here are five of the most commonly believe, but wrong, conceptions about applying to US and UK universities.

1. SATs are the main exam focus of US admissions

SAT College Board Logo

False. SATs are the foot in the door to US universities and are largely used as an equivalent standard by which to compare students from very different backgrounds and curricula. SATs are not taught in schools, and most students prepare for them outside the classroom (much like the 11+). There are two types of SATs. The first, the SAT I, is a long exam testing Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing required by most universities. An alternative exam, the ACT, can be taken instead, with the ACT having an extra section on Science. The second, SAT IIs or Subject Tests are meant to test a subject when taken in its “second year” i.e. post GCSE. In America, there are actually exams called Advanced Placements (or APs) that are the equivalent of A levels and are used in much the same way A level results are used.

For more information on the SAT I or SAT II, please see the College Board website. For more information on the ACT, please see the ACT website. For more information on choosing between them please see our article on choosing between the SAT and ACT.

2. US and UK admissions processes are the same

False. UCAS, the delightfully straightforward UK application portal, allows you to enter your personal information, post your exam results, write one personal statement, enter your references, and hit submit to your 6 choices. In the US, you can apply to as many schools as you wish through the "Common Application" which, like UCAS, streamlines most of the personal information entry. In addition to your grades, you will be expected to enter details of your extracurricular activities and volunteering. Even then, many schools require supplements – essays, music recordings, supplementary reference letters – that can leave even the most diligent student dizzy. The interview for US universities is conducted by an alumni and based around you and your interests - no essays or math equations in sight! In summary, the US process is a holistic view of your candidacy in and out of school rather than purely your academic profile. The US application process can seem very different for UK and IB students.

3. My child doesn’t have 10 A*s at GCSE. They therefore do not have a shot at an Ivy League school

False. The standard at American Ivy League schools is notoriously high, but it takes into consideration your other accomplishments outside the classroom. Are you a national champion field hockey player? Are you a virtuoso pianist? Have you started a successful company? Has your volunteer work spoken volumes about your discipline and drive to make your community a better place? Do you have a unique perspective or have you overcome significant diversity to be where you are today? When you apply to American universities, they take all of this into account and more!

4. You cannot prepare for an Oxbridge interview

University Library

False. Oxbridge interviews are the great unknown in UK admissions. However, that does not mean that you cannot prepare for them. Oxbridge Interview practice will give you the confidence to address questions and the skills to articulate your reasoning. Reviewing your school material will ensure that you feel as prepared as possible before setting foot in the door. Expect to be pushed to your intellectual limit. Your interviewer will be testing you further than the boundaries of what you know and assessing not only how you learn but also whether they enjoy teaching you.

5. US universities give unconditional offers

True and False. The offers are not conditional upon your exam results, but US universities do require that you finish the school year and that your performance in school does not drop below a certain standard. This depends on your chosen university so do read the fine print! Finally, any criminal activity or anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated, and there are many examples of successful candidates having their offers rescinded prior to starting.

Selected UK and US University Consultants Testimonials

Please see below some example UK and US University Consultants Testimonials that we have received. If you would like to hear more, you may be interested to read about our tutor guarantee or to read about Wentworth Tutors' philosophy and approach in a letter to parents from Dr Katherine Wiles, our Founder. Alternatively, some more UK and US University Consultants Testimonials can be found on our dedicated testimonials page, where you can filter by subject.

SAT | Peter Minnig

"Peter has worked really well with [my son]. And [my son] would definitely like to schedule more classes with Peter." ... See Peter Minnig's tutoring profile.

Pre-test | Andrew Dickinson

"My son has certainly made great progresses and we all acknowledge Andrew's contribution to his exams results." ... See Andrew Dickinson's tutoring profile.

GCSE Mathematics | Jessica F

"Jess is always on time, well prepared and very patient. She listens to my daughter and adapts her teaching skills appropriately" ... See Jessica F's tutoring profile.

Last Minute College Applications Essay - Weekend Turnaround | Wentworth Education Private Tutoring

"Thank you for also providing such a great service at the last minute. It is much appreciated and I will be sure to use you again if needed."

Engineering Tripos at Cambridge Application | Mathew Smith

"We are very grateful for the job that Mathew has done for [our son], especially the diagnostic part of it, as we didn't know that he had significant gaps in his knowledge. We found Mathew very helpful managing the time pressure problem (and that was a main weakness for our son!)" ... See Mathew Smith's tutoring profile.

Further Mathematics A-level | Adam Barker

"Adam was always exceptionally well prepared for our sessions. His ability to think of analogies and alternative approaches to help tackle a difficult problem was exceptional, which gave me confidence with the most challenging aspects of the FM A-level. I whole-heartedly appreciated our sessions and would highly recommend Adam as a tutor. <br><br> Student" ... See Adam Barker's tutoring profile.

Oxbridge student | Dr Karis Riley

"I have known Karis for nearly a decade. Karis is highly intelligent and academically gifted. She has a passion for learning and love of education like no one else I know. She is widely read, questioning and intellectually curious by nature - all skills I think an excellent tutor should have and pass on to their students. I would highly recommend Karis' abilities to anyone looking for additional academic support." ... See Dr Karis Riley's tutoring profile.

KS2 | Fenella Chesterfield

"“We are grateful for all the help and encouragement you have given our son, and much of his success is to your credit. You should feel proud too for what you have done for your students. Our son really enjoyed studying and learning with you. You are a good and very responsible teacher who prepares all the lessons very well in advance, and has the interest and wellbeing of the students first and foremost. You genuinely care very much about them and work hard with them.”" ... See Fenella Chesterfield's tutoring profile.

French and Spanish | Katherine Smith

"You have been the best Languages teacher I've ever had by far. You are always really supportive and kind. You managed to make learning languages fun and you have helped me change my mindset for the best. I used to be so negative and you have managed to change that. Thank you so much. Thank you for making our language lessons so fun and enjoyable. We all really feel that since you taught us we have learned so much. Thank you for being a great teacher - you've really helped me with my French and Spanish. Students at Stoke College Suffolk " ... See Katherine Smith's tutoring profile.

SAT & University Admissions Counselling | Talal Al-Nawab

"Talal's commitment, passion and support in his role as University Admissions Counsellor and Test Prep Mentor was excellent. We always found him to be very approachable, friendly and supportive of Mackenzie (my daughter) and myself! Additionally, Talal never let things slip through the net: he would always bring to my attention any upcoming test and application dates/deadlines. I also appreciated his sense of responsiveness towards any outstanding issues that needed to be resolved fairly quickly - he promptly gave us his suggestions. His teaching style is attentive and patient, to achieve top marks for his students. He was straightforward, honest yet very polite, and his professional communication style is also worthy of note. Talal clearly understands the goals and needs of his students, and he’s a pleasure to work with. I look forward to working with him again as he supports our son Theo: I know our son will be in good hands!" ... See Talal Al-Nawab's tutoring profile.