Comparing the US and UK Education Systems: Things to Know

The UK and the US seem to depict their schools and educational systems in different lights, and although TV shows and films are not the best ways to truly understand what education in either countries are like, it can provide us with enough insight to understand that they are very different from one another. What are these differences, though? While there are plenty, such as the length of time you study, the exams you take, and even the uniform you wear, there will be many other differences you haven’t heard of yet. 

Whether you are considering studying in the US or UK or are simply curious, here are some differences you should know about. 

Education in the US

The educational system in America is a lot more generalized and less focused on examinations than the UK educational system. Typically, American students will remain generalists until the end of secondary school, all the way until they obtain a high school diploma. Even when they enter higher education, they do not have to choose a major straight away as they are able to study many different subjects until deciding on a subject they would like to focus more on. Students in America will have a major (which is their primary subject) which will be the bachelor’s degree they graduate with; however, they will also have the opportunity to study minors that could be chosen to help enhance their major. 

In America, students are expected to take the SAT and ACT, which are the only two standardized examinations in the country. This usually offers the children more freedom but also a wider variety of questions. The SAT exam has three sections: writing, mathematics, and critical thinking. The results from the SAT exam are used to help universities determine the academic skills of a student, so there is a lot of emphasis on students having to perform well on this examination. However, there is a lot of noise surrounding the SAT and how they are not a reliable form of exams. 

Furthermore, children in America tend to have a later start when it comes to starting their education. For parents to get their child accepted into kindergarten early, the child will need to take tests and pass them. But it is not usually expected for children to be enrolled into the educational system before the age of five. 

Education in the UK

Education in the UK is much more focused on exams and having their students focus on subjects throughout the years until they settle on their main subject of interest for university. Typically, students will have a series of exams to go through, with their GCSEs, A-Levels and university examinations. You can also have your child take further tests so that you can measure their academic capabilities and see whether they have the academic prowess to enrol in certain schools.For instance, Pretest Plus have several different tests such as the CAT, ISEB Pretest, and CEM Select that can help prepare students and help them excel. 

Children will start their academic career as early as the age of four. They will then go on to study a variety of different subjects, focusing on the ones that will eventually lead them to their choice of career. 

The Takeaway

The school systems are very different between the US and the UK. While the UK likes to focus more on exams and have their students slowly pick their subjects of choice (from GCSEs to their degree), the US can be viewed as more relaxed as they are able to explore more subjects and have a more generalised outlook at school. Of course, there are other variables you will also have to consider such as term times and the fact that schools in the UK will require students to wear a uniform

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