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International Applicants: How Do Your Grades Compare?


So far, this series has provided information on the American higher education system, helped you conduct research on colleges and universities you are interested in and has provided general insights into how the application process works.  This post will dive into your academic transcripts and discuss how to analyze your GPA.
Academic Transcripts
As mentioned in the previous post, your academic transcripts are the most important piece of your application.  Since you are more than likely attending a school that has different curriculum requirements and grading procedures than what is offered in the U.S. It is essential that you make sure colleges and universities are able to understand your transcript.  If your secondary school does not send transcripts in English, then you must have them officially translated.  You should also make sure your secondary school sends information on the curriculum you are completing, as well as an explanation of grading procedures.  Finally, you should follow up with the institutions to which you are applying, in order to determine if they have any questions regarding your grades or courses.
The Mid-Year Report
Most colleges and universities will require you to submit a mid-year report of your academic performance in your final year of secondary school.  This progress report lets the admission officers know how you are doing in your current classes.  Often international secondary schools post only end of term exam grades and do not have official grades for the courses you are currently taking.  It is important that you work with your current teachers to provide some type of information on your current academic work.  It does not necessarily need to be a letter grade, but can also be a comment about your performance.  If this requirement proves to be a concern for you, contact the college admission office to discuss alternatives.
Converting Your GPA
One of the most difficult aspects of the application process for international students is determining how your grades compare to a U.S. GPA.  Most colleges and universities will state the average GPA of their applicants. Unfortunately there is no definite way to create a direct translation of most international GPAs into a US GPA.   Most admission representatives will research the curriculum you are enrolled and estimate if you have an A average, B average, etc.
For example, if you are enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, a score of a 7 or 6 may be considered an A in the U.S. system (which would approximately be a 3.7 to a 4.0 GPA).  If you are enrolled in the A-level program, a score of A or B would more than likely be considered an A in the US system.
Curriculum and Class Rank
Not only are your grades important, but so is the challenge of the curriculum you are taking.  High level courses in the International Baccalaureate program (along with obtaining the full IB diploma) are going to be considered more challenging than standard level courses.  In India, a student who is enrolled in the math/science track is going to be considered to be taking a more challenging curriculum than a student who is enrolled in the commerce track.
Most colleges and universities will want to see a profile of your school that describes what type of curriculum is available to you.  They will also be looking for information on your class rank.  They will want to see how your grades and curriculum compare to the other students enrolled at your school.
Educational consultants definitely help their international clients to determine how U.S. colleges and universities may view their curriculum and grades.  We can provide insights on how your transcript may be viewed in the U.S. admissions process.
Our next post will guide you through the standardized tests that are required for international students.
Katherine Price
Educational Consultant
Technorati Tags: GPA, converting your GPA, weighted vs. unweighted GPA, international grades, international curriculums, international grades vs US grades


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