Comparing the UK school levels with USA school levels - from Primary to Secondary
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Types of Schools
British have State (Government) run free schools and Public/Independent (Private) fee based schools. While UK have state run faith schools, separation of Church and State does not allow religion to be taught in US government funded schools, and there are a lot of quality private schools run by the churches with good disciplines.
Mandatory schooling in UK is from 5 to 16 years old, where primary starts at the age of 5 and secondary school starts around 11. In US, mandatory school age is from 5 to 18 years old, where elementary schools (K-5th grade) from the age of 5, middle schools (6th to 8th grade) from 11 and high school (9th to 12th grade) from the age of 14.
In America, we say students are in 7th Grade while British students of the same age are in Year 8. They are labeled a higher number in comparison to the US because we call the first formal year of school Kindergarten in America, which is the equivalent to Year 1 in England.
In British schools, students are separated in to numerous ability levels and can be changed and regrouped throughout the year. Therefore, it is clear to everyone what type of progress a student is or is not making.
American schools offer classes that are usually either general or advanced. That’s it. Students mostly pick which type of class they’d like to take. Those that want the higher level need a teacher’s recommendation to register.
US school is supposed to move students from grade to grade according to meritocracy. UK matriculates according to age, eventually aging out of system.
US High School Diploma
At completion of High School (HS) in US students are to pass minimum course requirements and exam to receive a HS diploma - thus graduating. Students who pass the 12th Grade in the US by completing enough classes, but do not meet all of the standard graduation requirements, will not receive a high school diploma, but will instead receive a certificate of attendance.
Requirements for HS diploma are well below acceptable minimum to get into 4 year college or university, and there is a good reason for this - the first year (Freshman year) in US College provides a fundamental level of education across five major disciplines*. This approach gives time and flexibility to high school graduates to seriously consider their future majors during their first year in college, and hence a better decision. Colleges in US give out 4 year bachelors, whereas UK colleges are 3 years.
State (Government) Schools
For state schools in UK (run by government), the school years are further broken in to groups called Key Stages. For example, Years 7-9 are classified as Key Stage 3. Students ages 16-18 are in the 5th Key Stage, the final stage which is also called Sixth Form.
When looking at study plans as differences between British and American schools, there is more unity in the British course of study. Schools (unless they are independent) must follow the National Curriculum. American school teachers experience a substantial amount of freedom in comparison to what they can teach and when against their British counterparts.
US have Public (100% tax funded), Magnet schools (also public but specializing in specific subjects like art or biology or technology or college prep; magnet school have application processes and selection criteria) , Charter schools (partially public funded, parents given money/voucher and allow to pay for school of choice, including faith based school. And Private school (no government funding).
In U.K. state run secondary school parents still needs to pay for uniforms, textbooks, lunches, field trips etc. (avg cost 500 EU/year) Most public school in US does not require uniform and all textbooks are free; it is free except for extracurricular (sports and music), with subsidies available for those who can't afford it.
Both countries have need-based government lunch and other aid programs for those who qualify. US is big in requesting fundraiser for free public school, whereas fundraisers are mostly done in fee based private school in UK. UK has a lot more boarding schools than US.
Independent (Private) Schools
In UK, Public school, also called independent school is one of a relatively small group of institutions educating secondary-level students for a fee and independent of the state system as regards both endowment and administration. (The term public school emerged in the 18th century when the reputation of certain grammar schools spread beyond their immediate environs. They began taking students whose parents could afford residential fees and thus became known as public, in contrast to local (state run) schools.
British have national standardized testing throughout for primary and secondary education. US have K-12 Common Core (CC) Standards in 42 of 50 states. Each state implements CC differently but the testing is the same. States ranking at the bottom are threatening to leave CC.
US standard and quality of education vary drastically from state to state and even within same district depending on school. Take an example, San Francisco has many top High Schools in the nation as well as the not too good ones.
Instruction for British secondary students focuses on the GCSE subject exams and the A Levels. In America, the SAT and ACT are the only real standardized tests that students take at a national level.
Since the GCSE are subjects based, students are expected to have spend time in tutoring and drillings for the exam, one the other hand, the SAT exam is basically a test for the students’ general academic ability, to see how well they are prepared for colleges.
The SAT is most popular, it features three sections: math, critical reading and writing. For nearly four hours, students have to answer questions that have little reflection on what they study in school each day. However, the results of this test have a substantial effect on a student’s ability to apply for a university.
In both UK and USA, there are schools that also offer IB (International Baccalaureate).
Grades in UK are often given according to bell curve; if majority get 90 on a test, then 90 = C, only the top 10% will get an A. In US if you get 90% correct on a test you'll receive an A; if everyone received 90% or higher everyone in class can get an A. Straight As report cards are a lot more difficult to obtain in UK.
Holidays and Breaks
In America, schools generally give students around 10-12 weeks of vacation. They can release students anywhere from the end of May to mid August, or mid-June to the beginning of September.
British schools are quite different. They generally end their academic year in mid-July and begin the first week of September. This gives students about 6 weeks of a summer holiday.
However, British students receive much more time away from school during the academic year, in comparison to American students. Nearly all British schools have a half-term, one week break in October, February and May. They also receive at least two weeks holiday over both Christmas and Easter holidays.
The class is ended
At the end of a class period, British students must stand at their desks and wait for a teacher to say they are dismissed. In America, when the bell rings, you run. … The end.
The UK almost exclusively has shorter courses than their American counterparts, and this goes for all levels of higher education. A bachelor's degree in the UK is normally 3 years, to the American 4 years. Taking a master's in the UK will typically take just 1 year, while in the U.S it is 2 years.Is the UK education system harder than the US? ›
Pace. In the case of the British curriculum, it can be found that in primary/secondary school, the level of learning in the U.K. school system was considerably higher. The students have in-depth knowledge of each topic taught in each stage.Are UK and US grades the same? ›
Like the US grading system, the UK also uses letter grades, but not in the same way. Rather than each letter representing 10%, an “A” is anything above 70% in the UK. Every letter that comes after means a decrease of 10%. Another change is there are no GPAs in the UK like 4.0s.How is the school system in the US different from the UK? ›
In the US system, less emphasis is placed on examinations and students study general subjects until the end of high school, which is Grade 12, the UK equivalent of Year 13. In the United States, most children attend preschool part-time, but state-provided education does not start until Kindergarten (Year 1 in the UK).Why is the UK education system better than the US? ›
UK education system offers you plenty of choices in the courses you can study. While, the degree courses in the US are rigid. The length of a degree course in the UK is less while the courses in the US are much longer. So now you know, studying in UK is better than US.What is US equivalent to A Levels in UK? ›
According to the British Council, A Levels are similar to the American Advanced Placement courses which are themselves equivalent to first-year courses of America's four-year bachelor's degrees.Is UK better than US for studies? ›
In both systems, you can go directly to a PhD program out of your undergraduate program, but in the UK it is more common to complete a Master's degree program before moving on to a PhD. Courses of study are shorter in the UK because the course programs are generally much more focused than in the US.Does the UK have the best education system in the world? ›
United Kingdom is well known for prestigious universities like Oxford, Cambridge, and more that provide excellent education and offer various courses for international students. The British education system has the reputation of having one of the highest education standards around the world.Who has the best education system in the world? ›
- United States. #1 in Education Rankings. No Change in Rank from 2021. ...
- United Kingdom. #2 in Education Rankings. ...
- Germany. #3 in Education Rankings. ...
- Canada. #4 in Education Rankings. ...
- France. #5 in Education Rankings. ...
- Switzerland. #6 in Education Rankings. ...
- Japan. #7 in Education Rankings. ...
- Sweden. #8 in Education Rankings.
Across the UK there are five stages of education: early years, primary, secondary, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE).
School Education: Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary education: In the Indian system, higher education includes the education imparted after the 10+2 stage - ten years of primary and secondary education followed by two years of higher secondary education.What is the UK grading system called? ›
In England, the GCSE grading system is numerical (starting with the lowest possible grade 1, the highest possible grade 9 and the average passing grade being 4.) In Northern Island and Wales, GCSE follows a letter-based grading scale with A* being the highest possible letter grade and F being the lowest possible grade.What are the differences between US and European education systems? ›
There are many differences between the European school system and the US school system. The first and the biggest difference is that in the US, students follow their own schedules moving from class to class, but in Europe, students have one classroom where they take all of their lessons.What is the main difference between US and UK? ›
1. The USA practices the federal constitutional republic form of government while the UK uses constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. 2. USA has 50 states and one federal district whereas the UK is a single state kingdom comprised of four different countries.Why is UK better than US for international students? ›
The UK offers a culturally diverse environment with more number of international students coming in than US, thus providing more international exposure. The UK dorm life, sports and clubs, pub crawls and theatres and music festivals keep students entertained.What are the disadvantages of studying in UK? ›
DISADVANTAGES: The strict education culture of the UK sometimes makes it tough for the students to adjust. The norms of the college are really strict which is quite challenging for the students to cope with on an everyday basis.What is high school in US equivalent in UK? ›
|Age||UK Years||US/International Grades|
|13 - 14||Year 9||Middle School|
|14 - 15||Year 10||High School|
|15 - 16||Year 11|
|16 - 17||Year 12 / Lower 6th|
|Age||UK Year (England Only)||U.S. Level|
|13 to 14 years||Year 9||8th Grade|
|14 to 15 years||Year 10||9th Grade (Freshman) – High School|
|15 to 16 years||Year 11||10th Grade (Sophomore)|
|16 to 17 years||Year 12 (6th Form) sometimes reffered to as 'lower 6th'||11th Grade (Junior Year)|
In England and Wales, the high school diploma is considered to be at the level of the General Certificate of Education (GCE), which is awarded at Year 13.
Which country has the hardest education system? South Korea, Japan, Singapore are a few countries which have one of the hardest education systems.
- 7 benefits of studying in the UK. Read Time. ...
- The UK is home to top universities. ...
- It's incredibly diverse. ...
- There is support for overseas students. ...
- Studying in the UK will improve your English skills. ...
- There are job opportunities after graduation. ...
- It's a great place to live. ...
- Finally, you'll have a lot of fun.
The overall ranking of Best Countries measure global performance on a variety of metrics. Switzerland is the best country in the world for 2022.Which curriculum is best in the world? ›
The British curriculum is the most successful and widely used in the world.What is high school level in UK? ›
Secondary Education. Secondary education (including what they call high school in the UK, sixth form, and “college”) lasts for five to seven years. Students between 12 and 16 years old are legally required to attend a secondary school in the UK. This stage of compulsory education is called “lower secondary”.How do grade levels work in the UK? ›
Grades in UK are often given according to bell curve; if majority get 90 on a test, then 90 = C, only the top 10% will get an A. In US if you get 90% correct on a test you'll receive an A; if everyone received 90% or higher everyone in class can get an A.What is 11th and 12th grade called in UK? ›
A Sixth Form College is the equivalent of 11th and 12th in India. In the UK, at the age of 16, students give their school final exam called GCSE, which is also known as matriculation or SSC board exams in India. Students go to a Sixth Form College after giving the 10th board exams.What are the 3 levels of formal education? ›
Formal education encompasses primary, lower and upper secondary education, higher and university education that culminate in the achievement of a degree or a professional qualification or diploma or a recognised certification as well as adult education programmes.What are the 4 types of higher education? ›
- doctoral universities,
- master's colleges and universities,
- baccalaureate colleges,
- baccalaureate/associate colleges,
- associate colleges,
- special focus colleges, and.
- tribal colleges.
The Higher Education Act (Act 101 of 1997) as amended provides for three higher education institutional types, Higher Education Colleges, University Colleges and Universities.
- +70% = 4.0.
- 60-69% = 3.3-3.9.
- 50-59% = 2.7-3.2.
- 40-49% = 2.0-2.6.
- Below 40% = 1.0-1.9 – This is not necessarily a failure; at some universities, it might be equivalent to receiving an ordinary degree in the UK.
|GPA||UK module marks||UK degree classification|
|4||70+||First class honours|
|3.7||65-69||Upper-second class honours|
|3.3||60-64||Upper-second class honours|
|3||55-59||Lower-second class honours|
The UK has a unique higher education grading system. Its most unique feature compared to traditional grading systems is that it aims to be more specific in describing students' academic achievement. This type of assessment method is highly valued because it offers many advantages.Which country is best for education UK and US? ›
UK vs US university list. The US has a greater number of universities in the top 100 world rankings.Is education in Europe better than America? ›
European universities offer a lot more types of degrees than American universities. They offer Higher National Diploma, Certificate of Higher Education, Diploma of Higher Education, Foundation Degree, Bachelors, Masters, Ph. D. and variety of professional and vocational degrees.Who has the best education system in Europe? ›
Having recorded a whopping 99% literacy rate, Denmark is undeniably a top mention while finding the best education system in the world. Free education is offered in Denmark from primary to higher education.Is UK better than USA for living? ›
The UK is often considered a cheaper place to live. The cost of living in both countries is not the same and can vary depending on where people choose to live. It's also important to note that the average salary for someone in the US is significantly higher than what it would be in the UK due to taxes.Which is better American or British English? ›
The answer is that American English and British English are both great. Choosing one over the other is a matter of personal preference. Some prefer an American accent because they grew up watching American movies and listening to American music. Some think British English sounds more proper and prefer that.What are the similarities between the US and UK education system? ›
The main similarity in the UK and US education systems is the language of instruction. In both countries, lessons are taught in English and exams are taken in this language too. Education is also provided to all citizens and residents for free. In the UK, funds come from the central government.Is College in USA the same as university in UK? ›
In America, “college” means higher education, but in the UK college is where many students go for two years after finishing school at 16. Students can choose between studying at a school sixth form, sixth form college or a further education college.
Perhaps the most notable difference between studying in the USA or the UK, is the time it takes to complete a degree. In general, degree programs in the US take about one year longer than programs in the UK. Courses are shorter in the UK because the course programs are generally much more focused than in the US.What is US high school equivalent UK? ›
It's the equivalent of A-Levels. High school is 4 years, 9th grade through 12th grade, which roughly equates to two GCSE years and two A-Level years.Which is better USA or UK? ›
The UK is often considered a cheaper place to live. The cost of living in both countries is not the same and can vary depending on where people choose to live. It's also important to note that the average salary for someone in the US is significantly higher than what it would be in the UK due to taxes.What is the quality of education in UK? ›
United Kingdom is well known for prestigious universities like Oxford, Cambridge, and more that provide excellent education and offer various courses for international students. The British education system has the reputation of having one of the highest education standards around the world.Is it better to study in USA or UK? ›
In both systems, you can go directly to a PhD program out of your undergraduate program, but in the UK it is more common to complete a Master's degree program before moving on to a PhD. Courses of study are shorter in the UK because the course programs are generally much more focused than in the US.What is the US equivalent to A Levels? ›
For those considering US universities, the American equivalent for A Levels are the AP examinations.Are American schools better than British schools? ›
Based on national average statistics, most children educated in a British style are a year or more ahead of their US counterparts in math and language.What is 12th grade called in UK? ›
HSC. The Higher Secondary Certificate is a two-year study in a School in Science/Commerce/Arts streams.