Comparison and contrast of the education systems in the United Kingdom and the United States of America Table of Contents Page No. Introduction1 Section 1. Similarities and differences between the UK and the USA regarding types of schools2 Section 2. Similarities and differences between the UK and the USA regarding university entrance procedure5 Conclusion7 References Introduction Education is widely accepted to be an essential part of people’s lives. It is generally agreed that education helps people to develop their own personalities, by acquiring new knowledge, using different sources.
An American philosopher John Dewey (n. d) claimed: “Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself”. It must therefore be recognised that education is a long process of learning, which starts from one’s birth. Every day a person gets to learn more and more new information. Society is considered to be an area of learning. It also plays a very important role in people’s education. A person receives knowledge from his surroundings and shares it with other people. Hence, it is very important to be educated in society.
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There is no doubt that education is the way to success, the more you study, the more chances you have to succeed in life. Nowadays, every government tries to develop its educational system in the country. Therefore, a great deal of special educational facilities are open all over the world, such as kindergartens, schools, colleges. The government of any country strives to have an educated population, because it influences the development of the society and it promotes economic growth, as there will be many well qualified workers. Education is supposed to create competition at places of employment.
That is why, more and more people try to get a higher education, subsequently to get good, well paid jobs. According to statistics, over the last two decades the number of people, who have university degrees, has increased from 11,5% (1997) to 19. 3% (The New Zealand advisor on economic Treasury, 2006). Such a tendency is growing every year in all countries. Each country has its own value of education. There are very few countries, which are popular for their strong educational bases. Let us compare and contrast two countries with a good reputation for their education.
As an example, the USA and the UK will be considered in this assignment. It is generally agreed that the United States of America and the United Kingdom have proved that their systems of education are the most excellent all over the world, as world top five universities are situated in these two counties. Although there are a great amount of features of education, which might be discussed, two of them will be accurately examined. The first is high school system in both of these countries, and the second one is university entrance procedure. Section 1.
Similarities and differences between the USA and the UK regarding types of school. High (secondary) school is the last stage of school education. It is generally agreed that high school is the most difficult and demanding phase of the whole school program. Since the most important exams are taken during the last years, that is why these years are the most stressful for students. The graduation of high school is a very important aspect for a student’s future studies at university. 1. 1 Differences It is widely accepted that British high school system differs from the American one in many aspects.
First of all, these two countries are dissimilar in their high school structures. Students in the United Kingdom start their secondary school education at the age of 11-12 years. There are three stages of secondary school: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. Key stage 3 includes year 7 to year 9, while Key Study 4, which is known also as GCSE, year 10 to year 11 and the last one Key Stage 5 or A-level consists of year 12 to year 13 (Kozma, 2010). We see that the system of high school in the UK is very complicated, that is why some students decide to work instead of studying.
Students in the USA are dissimilar to students of the UK that they start high school right away after middle school, when they reach 14 years. American high school consists of 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades, which are also known as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. In the USA there are also Honours, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate classes that are more rigid and the load of homework is much greater (USA Study Guide, 2007). The transition from middle to high school is challenging indeed because the type of education that is used in each institution is very different.
At high school students not only acquire knowledge, but also get some experience, which is very useful for them in future. Secondly, the UK and the USA have totally different examinations for the students. GCSE and A-level are the main exams in the UK, whereas the USA has its own method of assessment, which is called GPA. GCSE is the General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is a two-year study course for 15-16 years students. Usually British students pass GSCE exam when they reach the age of 16.
GCSE is essential for students who want to take further examinations, such as AS/A-levels and enter the university or a college of higher education (Kozma, 2010). Besides, GCSE gives you a chance to assess your knowledge and skills and help you to define your weak points and how you can improve them for your future specialization. GCSE courses are very different from others courses in the past. They are more interesting and intensive. They include different types of work, group projects, presentations and course work, that is the work, which you do during the two years. Final marks of this work influence he final result. English, Mathematics and Science are the compulsory subjects of GSCE course. Students also can choose alternative courses, for instance Art & Design, ICT, Music or Business studies. GCSEs are graded from A*-G. Student must take A*-D grades, in order to start a course following school. A-level (Advanced level) and AS level (Advanced Subsidiary level) are followed by GSCE. Student may choose from three to five subjects to study on these courses. A-level is essential for university that is why a student should observe in advance which subjects are necessary for different degree courses (Vincent, 2001) .
GPA is the Grade Point Average system in the USA. GPA is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of credit hours attempted. In general GPA is used for class rank as Colleges’ evaluation. In USA the grading system is based on A-F scale (Universities in the USA, 2005). In short, there are a plenty of methods of assessment in both of these countries, which help to evaluate students’ knowledge and skills. Such exams help not only assess students, but make them be more organized and teach, how to spend their time efficiently.
Although, these two countries use different methods, each of them has its advantages. Finally, there is also dissimilarity between students’ social lives in these two countries. Social life in the USA and the UK plays a very significant role in students’ lives. But students of these countries spend their free time in completely different ways. In the USA student life in high school is very diverse. Faculties try theirs hardest to make students’ life less stressful by encouraging them to participate in different activities. Students are allowed to create their own clubs and even vote for dance themes.
Homecoming is an old tradition at high schools and is very important event of the year. Moreover, there is a student government in every college, which always organizes events for students. Social life in the USA appears to be very entertaining. With regard to social life, British high schools are supposed to be less interesting, since students have not so many opportunities to create some events on their own initiative. At the end of the year, British students have graduation ceremony, where students, which have successfully completed their studies, are awarded (University of Sussex, 2010). . 2. Similarities. Although, these two countries seem to be very different in education system, there are also some similarities. The first similarity, which is the major one, is that these two countries are considered to be very strong in their educational systems. It is generally agreed that high schools in the USA and in the UK distinguished from any other schools all over the world. The structures and methods of education proved to be the best systems that have ever been created. Besides, in both countries high school provides general courses that are required by colleges.
Students choose necessary subjects depending on their future studies at university and this is considered to be very beneficial for students, because they will be partly prepared for the university. That is why colleges’ syllabuses are estimated to be very intensive. In addition, the teaching system in the UK and the USA is generally agreed to be very strong. Teachers are required to have master’s degree in order to be hired for the positions. That is why teachers are supposed to be experienced and good at explanations. Moreover, teacher’s attitude toward students must be friendly.
Teachers are expected to lead discussion and help students to develop their critical thinking and writing skills. To be concise, there are more dissimilarities than similarities between these two countries regarding high school system. It can be seen that British high school system is more complicated than American. Such differences can be explained by the general difference between the governments and the cultures. Section 2. Similarities and differences between the UK and the USA regarding university entrance procedure.
It is generally agreed that University is an institution where everybody wants and needs to learn. University helps you to obtain new skills, knowledge, values and needed experiences for your future career. Teaching and research are considered to be the main functions of every University. Teaching provides a student necessary trainings for the future job. University research improves student’s theoretical knowledge (Kuhnen, n. d). Universities play the major role in current society. Today, people try to choose the prestigious university, where they will be able to get an excellent higher education.
It is widely accepted that the USA and the UK are very strong in their institutions of higher education. According to BBC news, universities of the USA and the UK dominate an annual ranking the world’s top universities (BBC news website, 2008). Therefore a great number of people try to enter the universities of these two countries. It is well known that University entrance procedure of both of these counties is quite specific. That is why, let us compare and contrast some criteria of application process and entrance requirements in the UK and the USA. 2. 1 Differences
Students of these two countries have different standards for the university entrance procedure. To begin with, in the UK, universities have their own minimum entrance requirements for undergraduate programs, for instance minimum of five GCSEs at grade C, and two passes A-levels. If a student’s results are lower, he will not be able to enter the university (Heap, 2008). While in the USA, students ought to have 5 credits in any 5 subjects and the minimum of GPA is 2. 50 (US International University, n. d). Moreover, there are different types of admission tests and exams in these countries.
British students must take IELTS exam, while TOEFL is taken by Americans. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an English exam, which is essential for entrance procedure in the UK. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is necessary for all international applicants, whose official language is not English (US International University n. d). Such exams help to evaluate students’ proficiency of English, since they will need to use academic language in their future studies at university. Therefore IELTS and TOEFL are strongly required for admission.
Finally, the range of documents, which should be filled, is quite dissimilar. With regard to the application forms, British students can submit theirs applications through UCAS. UCAS is known as the organization, which manage applications for the British Universities. There is also UCAS website, where students can observe all the available courses and to know about the University requirements (Heap, 2008). While American students should send their applications 15 to 18 months before the date of admission by themselves. They can request application forms from universities website (Fishburn, 2005).
It can be seen, that the UK provide more special services for students, which make easier theirs entrance university procedures. 2. 2 Similarities However, there are also some similarities in university entrance procedures between the UK and the USA. Firstly, students of the UK, like students of the USA must have academic background, which includes completed courses, grades and awarded degrees, transcripts, diplomas or certificates. Admission officers need all information to evaluate students based on their academic success.
Secondly, British, like American students are required to submit letters of recommendation by most institutions. Such letters should be written by professors or teachers, someone who can accurately comment your achievements (Gateway, n. d). Thirdly, most institutions of higher education in both of the UK and the USA demand a personal statement, which is also known as statement of purpose. Every university has different standards for statement of purpose. But in common, personal statement is a great opportunity to present yourself as an exceptional candidate for admission.
This personal biography helps the university to know your personality, your ambitions and future professional plans. And finally, most universities of the UK, like universities of the USA require application fees. Different universities have different ranges of fees. They must be paid for confirming your application (Gateway, n. d). Thus, it is fairly certain that these two countries have different requirements for university entrance procedure. Nonetheless, the main mission of the institutions of both the USA and the UK is to permit entry for qualified students, teach them and make professionals in different areas.
Conclusion It can be concluded from the assignment that education plays one of the major roles in both the UK and the USA. Both of these two countries pay a lot of attention to their educational systems. In addition, governments of these countries are competing with each other for better educational system even though it is different in each country. But the UK, like the USA tries to promote education on the highest levels, as education is considered to be the vital part of life. The process of development of education will never stop, since every person is supposed to study during the whole life.
It is well known that government has been always influencing society, therefore society adopted the idea of higher education, which leads to well-paid jobs and thus passing this idea from generation to generation. There can be a great number of discussions regarding education in the UK and in the USA. Both of these countries have advantages and disadvantages. Although the ways of educating students in these two counties may seem different from various sides, educational systems of the USA and the UK continue to satisfy people’s choice and justify their expectations.
Besides, there are some common features between two systems of education. That is why, no matter, where a person gets education, he should study hard to improve himself and then the difference between educational systems will be minimal. References BBC news, (n. d), US and UK universities ‘dominant’, http://news. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/education/7659616. stm [Accessed: Oct 19, 2010]. Dewey, J (n. d), Thinkexist, http://thinkexist. com/quotes/john_dewey/ [Accessed: Oct 13, 2010]. Fishburn, A 2005, Universities in the USA, Lucas Publications Ltd,Alresford. Gateway, (n. d), University Admission Process, http://www. gatewayoverseas. om/admission_process. html [Accessed: Oct 19, 2010]. Heap, B 2008, Degree course offers, 39th ed, Trotman Ltd,Richmond. Kozma, G 2010, Secondary School, Need2Know, Peterborough. Kuhnen, (n. d), The University as an Instrument in Social and Economic Development, http://www. professor-frithjof-kuhnen. de/publications/agricultural-colleges/0. htm [Accessed: Oct 17, 2010]. New Zealand Treasury, 2006, Changing Educational Qualifications, New Zealand, http://www. treasury. govt. nz/publications/research-policy/wp/2003/03-35/02. htm [Accessed: Oct 14, 2010]. Unknown author, 2007, USA Study Guide, http://www. sastudyguide. com/usaeducationsystem. htm [Accessed: Oct 17, 2010]. United States International University, (n. d), Entrance Requirements, http://www. usiu. ac. ke/index. php? page=109 [Accessed: Oct 19, 2010]. United States International University, (n. d), Application Procedures, http://www. usiu. ac. ke/index. php? page=110 [Accessed: Oct 19, 2010]. The University of Sussex, (n. d), Graduation Ceremony Information, http://www. sussex. ac. uk/Units/registry/graduation/ [Accessed: Oct 17, 2010]. Vincent, A, (2001), How to choose your GCSEs, 7th ed, Trotman Ltd, North Yorkshire.