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.

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.

English Preliminary Examinations, Oxford University | Andrew Dickinson

"Andrew has been the best English tutor I could has asked for in my first two terms of Oxford." ... See Andrew Dickinson's tutoring profile.

US University Admissions Test | Wentworth Education Private Tutoring

"It was good working with [Harry] ... we went through good approaches and methods to tackle the questions."

A Level RS | Fenella Chesterfield

"Fenella is brilliant and [my daughter] has really warmed to her and has found her sessions very informative and bespoke to her needs and they have helped [my daughter] to start to focus on what she really needs to address and how in order to succeed in her A levels." ... See Fenella Chesterfield's tutoring profile.

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.

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.

University Mechanical Engineering | Dr Benjamin Hardy

"I had Ben for three sessions over the course of a week on a topic that I didn't know much about and needed some quick fire revision for an upcoming exam. He made example questions and walked through them with me. He also found textbooks online relating to my studies and was able to show different methods towards my studies and help me understand the easiest and most efficient way. " ... See Dr Benjamin Hardy'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.

Physics and Interview Preparation | Adam Barker

"Adam has been a truly inspirational physics tutor. My son was keen to extend his Physics knowledge and Adam was quick to challenge him with interesting topics and problems. He has a structured approach to teaching topics and is very effective on remote teaching using internet based tools too. <br><br> His knowledge and experience in Physics is very evident in his overall approach to teaching: he was able to take on any topic and explain it in a very interesting and easy way. My son benefitted from his teaching in every way possible. From my perspective, he would periodically catch up with me and gave me honest feedback on how things were progressing, including positives and negatives, which is not very common. <br><br> Parent" ... See Adam Barker's tutoring profile.

Mathematics, ACT & University Admissions Counselling | Talal Al-Nawab

"Our son worked with Talal during high school, initially as a math tutor during Sophomore year. They hit it off right away and quickly established a positive and successful working relationship. We then hired Talal to tutor our son for his upcoming ACT exams (he had done mock exams for both the ACT and SAT and we decided that the ACT was best for him, given his learning profile). Talal was extremely helpful in guiding our son through the process by keeping him organized and motivated… celebrating the victories, while focused on the work that still needed to be done. He was very flexible working with our son’s busy schedule and other commitments, keeping the stress level down. Our son's ACT composite score increased by an impressive 6 points! Talal also helped with the university application and essay process. It was the best thing we could have done, taking us parents out of that already highly-charged process. Talal kept him to a realistic schedule, with milestones set over a number of weeks, so there was no crazy 'crunch' as application deadlines approached. The essays were supported at just the right level: edited mostly by Talal for grammar and punctuation, allowing our son’s voice, personality and story to shine. We are so grateful and appreciate Talal’s steady hand, kind manner and patience in guiding our son through the university process." ... See Talal Al-Nawab's tutoring profile.