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Simply begin thinking about the application process early on - it takes a lot of time to polish and perfect!...
Meet Yanpei Zhang
at University of Pennsylvania
Most US universities will require applicants to submit a transcript. A transcript is a document listing your academic qualifications and marks during the final four years of school (US grades 9 - 12, UK Years 10 - 13: i.e. GCSEs, A-levels, IB, BTEC, etc).
US universities are of course interested in your final and predicted results. However, they are also interested to see how your performance has changed over time. You want to be on a steadily positive or upward trend if possible. Universities will also be interested to know what subjects you have selected to study. The most competitive universities will want to see that you have pursued the most rigorous options available to you (A-levels, IB or Pre-U for example). See the admissions criteria page for more information.
Transcripts are generally one page in length and succinct, such that they can be easily read by a university admissions counsellor or scholarship selection committee. The information should be provided in chronological order and by subject or exam.
Although your UK school/college may not be accustomed to producing such a document, you will still be required to submit one as part of your university application. Please see our sample transcript handout as a guide, as well as our sample school transcript and report from an American High School for reference.
We also provided several different blank sample transcripts and school profile:
-School Transcript - English and Welsh A-level Students [NOTE: this template does not reflect the recent changes to A Levels. Given these recent changes, you may want to add the following elements to the transcript: i) a link to the Ofqual website to explain these changes to a US audience; and ii) if the student has taken an AS Level exam for a linear course, an explanatory note about the context of the AS mark on the transcript.]
Along with the transcript, you may be asked to provide a school report. A school report is information about your school to provide context to the student's application. It is required for those students using the Common Application but would be a helpful addition to any application alongside the transcript. See our guide for tips on what information you may wish to include. Note you do not have to include all of the fields we have listed if they are not applicable to your school or if you are not able/willing to provide the information. See our sample school transcript and report for additional guidance.
US students will have an official school transcript, printed on school letterhead, listing end-of-term and final exam marks for each class taken over their four years of high school, as well as any academic honours earned while in school. Therefore, it is important for your school to include as much information about your final and predicted results as possible, as well as any internal assessment by your teachers.
You should inform your careers advisor or appropriate school administrator of your request for a transcript well in advance of your application deadline. Your UK school/college may not be accustomed to producing such a document. Therefore, we provide a sample transcript handout. Your transcript should be printed on school letterhead, signed by a school official and stamped with a school seal of certification.
For a student educated within the UK system, a transcript will typically include:
Generally universities would like to see ALL information that is available. So that would mean any GCSE or AS grades received to date PLUS the predicted A-levels. If a student plans to re-sit, the student or the writer of the transcript can inform the university if the outcome is expected to improve or if there are valid reasons why a grade was not top-notch in the first instance (for example: the student was very ill, family emergency, etc).
It is important universities are provided with as much context as possible. For example, universities would like to know if your school only expects/requires three A-levels. Universities look at what the student had available to him/her and assess whether the student chose the most rigorous programme available in order to best prepare him/herself for a challenging university experience. Any background information from the school about what is standard and what is unusual is helpful. For example if a student does take four A-levels but everyone else only takes three, that makes him/her stand out even more than it would at a school where the norm was four.
Some US universities may be unfamiliar with UK qualifications and/or the curriculum for particular subjects. Therefore, you may also ask your school to include explanatory notes about the evaluation/grading scale and assessment methods. You may also wish to explain any discrepancies or special circumstances impacting your academic performance.
Unless you are required to use a credential evaluator, it is unlikely that you will have to submit original copies of your qualifications at this point. Rather, your school will sign off on your results (after you receive your final results in the summer, you may be asked to submit or physically present the certificate to the admissions office). If your sixth form college will not sign off qualifications completed at your previous secondary school, you may need transcripts from both your Sixth Form College and secondary school to cover all four years equivalent to US high school (US 9-12 grades, UK Year 10-13).
In the US, students are assigned a cumulative grade point average (GPA), usually on a 4.0 scale, for all courses taken throughout their four years of high school. To determine their GPA, schools take the numerical value assigned to the letter grade a student has achieved for each course (typically 4 points for an A, 3 points for a B, and so on), then add these numbers together and divide by the total number of classes taken. The following is a general percentage/letter grade scale for classes taken at US schools:
|Letter Grade||Percentage||Grade Point Average|
|B||80 - 89%||3.0|
|C||70 - 79%||2.0|
|D||65 - 69%||
In one of the fields on the application form, a US university will likely request that you report your GPA, or Grade Point Average. As there is no official direct conversion between UK marks and a US GPA, we recommend that students leave this field blank or find a way to type in your UK results. US admissions officers will understand the reason for this omission and will instead consult your transcript for detailed information about your academic performance, expressed in UK qualifications and results. Please note that, US university admissions officers often evaluate international credentials internally or in some instances may require students use an external credential evaluator. Please be aware that you will find that grade conversions can be quite interpretive and subjective; therefore, even with the same intentions and guidelines, the outcome in the conversions can have variations and slight nuances among universities and evaluation agencies in the US. However, as you make decisions about choosing universities, you may wish to view this chart of approximated grade conversions.
Some universities may ask that you have your qualifications assessed by a professional credential evaluator before submitting your application. Many universities will specify the credential evaluation service they prefer. However, if the university does not specify an evaluation service, you may wish to consult the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) website for a list of their recognised organisations.