LSAT, GRE, SAT…Even just trying to understand the terminology of the college system can make you feel as though you’re learning a new language! With so many institutions, regulations and tests that make up today’s educational system, it can be difficult to understand what educational options exist, let alone which is the right one for your student. A good understanding of the education system is a must, and the following overview can help you make an informed decision.
Understanding the Educational System
Educational systems differ from country to country, and from one jurisdiction to another. Generally, most Western countries have compulsory primary education for children starting around age 4 or 5.Students tend to start their secondary or high school education around the age of thirteen, and depending on the system, can graduate as early as sixteen. In England, compulsory high school education in England lasts until a student is 16. At this point, students may opt to continue their secondary education for another two years, which are spent studying towards qualifications known as A-levels which are the basis for admission to post-secondary institutions. In Canada, Quebec students complete high school in their junior year and have the option to attend CÉGEP, a 2-year junior college system which prepares them for either college or vocational studies. The American educational system is a little more straightforward: after twelve years of mandatory schooling, students can then move on to the college system.
What about Standardized Tests?
With so many American students applying to college, standardized tests are a common way in which a student’s academic performance is evaluated and used by academic institutions to determine admission for educational programs. Some tests, like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the model used by American College Testing (ACT) are used for general undergraduate college admission. Other tests, such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are tests used for admission to specific professional graduate studies, once an undergraduate college degree has been obtained.
Credits gained in high school Advance Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses can also be considered for college admissions, and have the added bonus of often being counted as credit, allowing students to ‘fast track’ through college. A community college degree can often be put towards a college degree in the same way.
Where does my student fit in?
There is never an easy answer to this question! Some students are extremely focused and seek to fast track through college to their career. Others use their time at college to explore career options while gaining an education. Each path has its benefits and challenges, and a good understanding of what options are available can help you and your student map out the best solution.