Equivalent of "A levels" in the US

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Stephanagreg, May 8, 2007.

  1. Stephanagreg Senior Member


    After a visit to the US, a friend of mine told me me there were no such thing as "A levels" after someone's time at high school was completed, but that 18-year-old Americans took exams to which they referred by saying that they "graduated" when they passed (using the same word as for universities degrees.)

    I checked this in a manual and found that such exams were called "high-school diplomas".

    Could anyone confirm to me that "graduation" is the correct term in use to refer to one's passing a high-school diploma ?
  2. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    There is no exam for a high school diploma. I believe your friend misinformed you or you misheard him. A diploma is that which you receive upon your completion of the high school curriculum which varies based on the specific requirements of municipalities, states, and the federal government. When you receive your diploma (or symbolically when you perform the commencement ceremony), you have graduated from high school.

    I don't know what you mean by "A levels." Perhaps you are talking about the grading system in the United States. For more information on that, check out this article.
  3. Topinambour New Member

    I don't think he's talking about the graduation system but about the exam the British students take at the end of the secondary schools. But Check the article "Advanced Level" in wikipedia for a better explanation ^^
  4. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    I believe he specifically refers to the American system.
  5. Topinambour New Member

    i d'ont think so because he said he went to US and then a friend of his told him that, contrary to England, they don't have any A Level to pass to achieve their cursus.
  6. Stephanagreg Senior Member

    I was referring to the British system for comparison's sake.

    I was a bit puzzled about the idea of young Americans having to tkae exams at the end of High School, and the documents I accessed were ambiguous on that point. Thanks, Hockey. You've cleared it all up for me.
  7. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    Ah, from your post I thought you meant there are no "A levels" in France after he/she had seen them in the US. Mind, American students do take exams toward the end of their high school careers that are called standardized tests. The most popular one is the Scholastic Achievement Test (or the SAT, often SATs) and it is typically taken during their junior year of high school (the second to last year) or the beginning of their senior year. This is considered to be an alternative form of measurement of a student's abilities beyond grades or other achivements. The other popular one is the ACT or the American College Test. On that page you can see an interesting map that breaks down where people normally take ACTs or SATs.
  8. Stephanagreg Senior Member

    Thanks, Hockey. That's very useful.
  9. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Education in the United States is considered a local responsibility. Congress in fact does not have the power under the Constitution to set educational policy for the nation as a whole; that right is reserved to the individual states. Each state has its own requirements for primary and secondary schools. When one has completed high school in a way that satisfies the minimum local standard, then one graduates from high school, and receives a high school diploma attesting to the fact that one has completed one's studies at that level. A high school diploma is ordinarily required for acceptance at a college or university.
  10. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    American English [AmE]
    It depends on the state in USA, but (I believe) most states do have a graduation test in order to graduate. If you cannot pass it then you don't receive your diploma, it is usually called something like "General Graduation Test" (each state has their own pretty little name for it, if you want to know what it is called in my state send me a private message). It is relatively new and since most older people didn't have to take it they may tell you there isn't one. Moreover, many students have to take university entrance exam such as SAT or ACT which the university uses to determine acceptance. The higher the class grades in high school, the higher the entrance exam scores, and the more involved the student (volunteer work, sports), the better chance there is for acceptance.
  11. konungursvia Banned

    Canada (English)
    There are exams, but they are merely a part of each ordinary final year (grade 12) course. The closest thing in the US to the A-Level is indeed the Advanced Placement system, a series of enriched courses and exams that give you something like an IB, including first-year University credit in your major areas.
  12. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    American English [AmE]
    Actually, depending on the state they take in the 9th year or 10th year and they keep taking the exam until they pass it. You are right, they don't get any university credit for it. Well, Advanced Placement classes (if the exam is passed) earn university credit. International Baccalaureate is also in many schools and if the exam is passed as well then they get university credit. I am guessing that A levels are similar to these types of programs. Sometimes, schools allow students to take university classes especially if they have already taken all their classes (sometimes students take summer school classes or "double up" on classes so they can free themselves up later in high school). I guess these programs would be similar to A levels.
  13. APunkRockFairytale New Member

    Um actually, i believe the exams he was reffering to were either SAT's or GED's. SAT's are required to be able to graduate, however GEDs are not required but strongly encouraged.
  14. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    The SAT is essentially a college entrance exam; it is taken in high school but not generally required to graduate (particularly considering that there is no such thing as a passing or failing score).

    A GED is a high school equivalency exam; there would be no point in a high school student taking that test.
  15. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    :thumbsdown: :thumbsdown: Totally wrong.

    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
  16. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    Semester exams taken at the end of each semester in high school, covering all material covered during that semester. The second-semester test, being an end-of-year test, sometimes also covers material from the first semester.

    A person who has dropped out of high school, instead of graduating, can take the GED tests. A GED (General Equivalency Diploma, IIRC) is considered to be equivalent to a regular high-school diploma.

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