High turnout at Harvard stand on USA College Day
Over 600 students and parents visited the Harvard stand at the ILEC Conference Centre, London, for USA College Day on 27/28 September. The photo shows the crowds round the Harvard table on Saturday afternoon.
Several visitors asked to be sent copies of the information slides we were using to explain different aspects of life at Harvard, including the academic curriculum, activities outside the classroom, financial aid and housing. Please click here to see a PDF version of the information slides.
Consider applying to Harvard – application deadlines approaching
If you are in Year 13 you should now be putting together the components of your application ready to submit to your chosen colleges by 1st November (Early Action) or 1st January (Regular Action). If you are an academically able student who also has broad interests and significant achievement outside the classroom, we hope you will consider Harvard as one of your choices. Harvard prides itself in attracting a diverse body of talented students from over 80 countries with a wide range of social backgrounds. It is the diversity of its student body, combined with the outstanding quality of its teaching and research, that makes Harvard such an exciting and dynamic environment in which to learn. In addition, generous financial aid makes a Harvard education affordable to all, regardless of family income.
What’s the difference between ‘Early Action’ and ‘Regular Action’?
‘Regular Action’ refers to the normal deadline for submitting your application to American colleges (usually early January, but it does vary from college to college). You may apply to as many colleges as you like by this deadline. But if you have one particular institution that is your clear favourite, many American colleges run a scheme called ‘Restrictive Early Action,’ or just ‘Early Action,’ which allows you to apply to one US college earlier than the others (by 1st November) and receive a decision by mid-December. (Note that you can still apply to colleges outside the US if you are applying Early Action.) For the most competitive US colleges, there is no advantage or disadvantage in applying Early or Regular Action, but some colleges may see your early application as an indication that they are your top choice, and may feel more favourable towards your application for that reason. Check each college’s website to see if they make any statements about possible advantages in the process for submitting an early application.
Some colleges use the term ‘Early Decision’ rather than ‘Early Action’. What’s the difference?
If you apply to a college ‘Early Action’ and are offered a place, the offer is usually not binding and you may wait and see if you get further offers from your ‘Regular Action’ colleges before you decide which offer to accept. On the other hand, an offer made as a result of an ‘Early Decision’ application is usually binding, so you must accept the offer and withdraw your applications from all other universities to which you have applied. This is not a problem if you definitely want to go the ‘Early Decision’ college, but being offered admission will close off all other options so it is very important to check whether an offer will be binding or non-binding before submitting your application. There is, however, one advantage to applying to an ‘Early Decision’ college: you have a greater chance of being admitted because the Admissions Office knows you are already fully committed to attending if you are offered a place.
More information about Restrictive Early Action can be found on the First Year Applicants page of the Harvard Admissions website.
Year 12: two essential tasks for this academic year
Last month we mentioned the two essential tasks for students currently in Year 12. Here is some more information about them:
1. Research the US college system and identify a shortlist of colleges to which you might like to apply. There are a number of search engines you can try, including Peterson’s and the College Board.
2. Register to take the standardised admissions tests required by most American colleges and book a place far enough ahead to allow you plenty of time to practise. If you haven’t already done so, register for the tests now and book a date or dates to take them in the spring of 2020. Between registering and taking the tests, set yourself a practice timetable so you are at your maximum performance by the time you sit the exams. There are two tests to choose from: the SAT or the ACT. US colleges accept both tests equally, but they are structured differently, so which one you decide to take simply boils down to the style of exam you prefer. A good method of deciding is to take a free online test in both the SAT and the ACT and go with whichever one gives you the better score.
Check the September 2019 newsletter for links to the free practice material.
Both the SAT and the ACT have optional essays, and not all colleges require them. At Harvard, we recommend that you do take the essays, but they are not compulsory. If you want to take the ACT essay, make sure you register for ‘ACT with writing.’
In addition to the SAT or the ACT with writing, the more competitive colleges may also require you to take two SAT Subject Tests. While the Subject Tests are now optional at many colleges, including Harvard, they are still recommended, especially for international students, to show your mastery of specific subjects. There are 20 subjects to choose from, and you should normally take your two strongest subjects at A-Level. Note that not all subjects are offered on every test date, so look up the Subject Test dates below and plan accordingly.
As with the main SAT and ACT tests, the best way of getting a good score is regular practice. Click here for free practice questions in every subject.
Click here for a full list of international SAT subject test dates.
SAT Test Dates 2019/20 and UK Test Centres
Remaining international SAT test dates for this academic year:
- 2 November 2019 – Subject Tests only
- 7 December 2019 – SAT and SAT Subject Tests
- 14 March 2020 – SAT only
- 2 May 2020 – SAT and SAT Subject Tests
- 6 June 2020 – Subject Tests only
It is best to register with the College Board (which administers the tests) in the autumn of Year 12 and to take the main SAT test in March or May and the SAT Subject Tests in May or June. This will give you plenty of time to practise and also provide the option of re-taking them in the autumn of Year 13 if you do not get as good a score as you hoped (colleges will only take into account your highest score if you take it more than once).
Click here for a list of UK Test Centres for the SAT. (Enter your preferred test date under ‘Select Test Date’ and then enter either England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man in the ‘United Kingdom’ section of ‘Select a Country’).
ACT Test Dates 2019/20 and UK Test Centres
Remaining ACT test dates (non-US) for this academic year:
- 13 or 14 December 2019
- 7 or 8 February 2020
- 3 or 4 April 2020
- 12 or 13 June 2020
- 17 or 18 July 2020
Like the SAT, it is best to register for the ACT in the autumn of Year 12 and to take the exam in April, June or July leaving you the option of re-taking it, if necessary, the following autumn. Although the essay section is optional, most competitive colleges require or recommend it, so you should register for ‘ACT with writing’, rather than just ‘ACT’.
Click here for a list of International Test Centres for the ACT. Download the PDF file and look under ‘United Kingdom’ to find a city near you with an ACT Test Centre. Its exact location can be found when you begin the registration process.