Frequently Asked Questions

Most top universities offer some kind of pre-college summer program to secondary school students, so that they can experience studying abroad and campus life.  The most popular programs with our students that are run by or affiliated with prestigious universities are StanfordColumbiaUPennCornellHarvardBrownPrincetonYaleDartmouthJohns Hopkins, and Oxford.

These programs are most beneficial for students who have never been away from the comfort of home and the daily support of their parents. They also give Hong Kong students a chance to meet other excellent students from all over the world.  Students who already attend international boarding schools would probably benefit more from returning home, so that they can spend quality time with their families.

Students should be aware of the many programs that appear to be, but are not officially affiliated with the prestigious university. Often these programs have rented facilities at the university and use part of the university’s name, such as Oxford or Cambridge in their program name. Unfortunately, many Hong Kong students pay high fees because they think they are attending the prestigious university, only to be disappointed when they learn that there is no affiliation.

Most universities, like NYU know that Hong Kong students have an unfair advantage when taking these Chinese exams, especially since many HK students consider Chinese as a first language. Therefore, many universities do not accept the scores in Chinese APSAT Subject Test, or A-Level. For Hong Kong students, most top universities in the United States require official school transcripts, the SAT or ACT, two SAT Subject Tests, letters of reference, essays, and IELTS or TOEFL, if English is not the native language. Some universities will accept AP exam scores, but do not require them.  Hong Kong students should check the requirements of each university, as their policies will vary.

Wycombe Abbey is often considered one of the top girls boarding schools in the UK for Hong Kong girls because of the high A Level and GCSE results; and the high acceptance rates by the top universities in the UK and the US. At least two years in advance,  prospective families should register to visit Wycombe Abbeyduring the Open Day  in October.Hong Kong girls should also begin preparing for their academic ability assessment, which tests mathematical, verbal, and non-verbal reasoning. This is an online test, so girls should be comfortable using a British keyboard, which is slightly different from an American keyboard, which is more popular in Hong Kong. In addition, Wycombe Abbey will assess personality and suitability during an interview and small group activities. Friendly girls with positive attitudes, who are kind and considerate are looked upon favourably. Hong Kong girls hoping to do well should consider joining sports, debate, music, dance, or drama groups. If successful, a conditional offer will be made subject to success on the 11+ Common Entrance Exam in English, Mathematics, and Science or the 13+ Common Entrance Exam in English, Geography, History Mathematics, Religious Studies, Science and a Modern Language.

Because space is very limited in Hong Kong, we recommend that our students register for all the available SAT or ACT Test Dates. Most test dates are full, months in advance, making it almost impossible to register at the last minute. Waitlist registration may be available, and is awarded on a first come first served basis on the day of the test, but this is not recommended because of the increased stress this causes students. Some of our Hong Kong students have even flown to Taipei, Singapore, Manila, Seoul, or Bangkok because Hong Kong was already full. We do not recommend this either because of the travel time and stress that this may cause.

As we have recommend, if the student has registered for many test dates, it is very easy to cancel a reservation once the desired scores have been achieved, without any academic penalty.  The cost of each registration will be forfeited, since no refund will be issued, but all things considered, this is the best option that results in the highest score with the least stress.

Both the SAT and the ACT may be used to apply to the top universities in the US. Many of the top universities, including Brown University of the Ivy League, do not require SAT Subject Tests if the ACT is taken with writing. The other main differences are that the ACT has a Scientific Reasoning Section and an Argumentative Essay, while the New SAT has a Language Analysis Essay, which was introduced in March 2016. Therefore, we recommend that Hong Kong students, who are strong in Science and weak in English, take the ACT. Hong Kong students, who are strong in English and weak in Science, should take the SAT. That being said, many of our students take both the ACT and the SAT until they have the achieved the required score. Rarely do students achieve their target score on their first try.

Most of the top ranked universities require two SAT Subject Tests. Some lower ranked universities do not require any SAT Subject Tests. AP Exams (Advanced Placement) may be used to fulfill credits toward university graduation, but are usually not considered during the university application process. SAT Subject Tests have multiple choice questions and may be taken many times during the year. The APs have both multiple choice and essay questions, but may be only taken once a year in May. The AP questions are more difficult as they are the equivalent of first year university courses. For Hong Kong students, we recommend that students take the SAT Subject Tests at the same time they take the school final exam because the school topics will still be fresh in the minds of the students.

The AP Exams offered by College Board that are the most popular with our Hong Kong students are CalculusBiologyChemistryPhysics Mechanics or Electricity and MagnetismHistoryEconomicsEnglish Literature and Composition, and Chinese Language and Culture. We advise our students to enroll in the AP Courses at their schools, especially since the exams will most likely be taken at their schools. Most of our Hong Kong students will take two or three SAT Subject Tests in MathematicsBiology E/MChemistryPhysics, English Literature, US History, World History, or Chinese Mandarin with Listening.  These SAT subject tests may be taken at your schools or at the HKEAA.  Hong Kong students should check with universities to determine the relevance and validity of each SAT Subject Test and AP exam. For example, Harvard does not offer AP credit for International English, US Government and Politics, Comparative Government and Politics, World HIstory, Human Geography,  Computer Science A, Environmental Science, and Art.

Most students take the SAT or ACT at least twice, during the spring of grade 11 as a Junior and the fall of grade 12 as a Senior. Many of our students begin preparing for the SAT or ACT while still in primary school by preparing for the SSAT or ISEE, which is more age appropriate. We feel that it is never too early to begin preparing for the SAT or ACT, especially since most Hong Kong students, who speak English as a second language often face greater challenges in the Essay, Reading, and Writing and Language sections. The College Board offers the following age appropriate practice tests: PSAT 8/9 for eighth or ninth grade freshmen; the PSAT 10 for tenth grade sophomores, and the PSAT/NMSQT for eleventh grade juniors in the fall. These tests offer excellent opportunities for students to take practice tests. These scores will not be sent to the universities, but may be used by students to help evaluate the strengths and weaknesses and percentile rankings, when compared to other students taking these tests. Our students should have taken their first SAT or ACT by the spring of their Junior year in eleventh grade and continue to retake in the fall of the their Senior year in the twelfth grade until they achieve their desired scores or until they must submit their university applications before the final deadlines. Most of the top university deadlines are in the late fall of the Senior year, but students should check the deadlines of each target university.

Each school or university has different criteria for admission, but generally speaking most boarding schools quote percentiles while considering offers, while most universities quote scaled scores. In most cases, a high raw score usually translates to a high percentile or scaled score.

  1. Why do you want to go to our school?
  2. Which of our programs do you find most interesting?
  3. Is there anything that concerns you about going to our school?
  4. Do you have any questions about our school?
  5. How have you made your current school better?
  6. How would you improve your current school?
  7. What could you contribute to help make our school better?
  8. What are your favorite and least favorite subjects and why?
  9. What books are you reading now?
  10. What sites do you visit most often on the internet?
  11. If you could go any place in the world, where would it be and why?
  12. What three items would you bring with you if you were to be stranded on a deserted island by yourself for one year?
  13. Who is your hero and why?
  14. What would you like to be doing 10 years from now?
  15. Who would you like to invite to dinner, living or dead?
  16. What is your favorite things to do on weekends?
  17. What major obstacles have you faced in your life?
  18. What would your friends say were your best and worst qualities?
  19. How would you describe your friends?
  20. How would your teachers or principal describe you?

For Current Year Talent Search Participants – SCAT Retests (2nd- 6th Grade Testers)
Students may take the SCAT up to two times per Talent Search year. To request a retest, login to MyCTY. A new SCAT
registration bulletin will be mailed to you. Requests must be submitted by May 31.

For more information, visit the CTY website.

Yes, College Board recently changed their policy. As of 2009, students may now use “Score Choice” to choose which score they would like to send to the university. “Students are encouraged to follow the score – reporting requirements of each university to which they apply, but their scores will not be released for admission purposes without their specific consent.”

For more SAT Score Choice information, please click the following: 

Each university has its own policy regarding this.  Harvard and MIT use the highest SAT score, while Yale and Stanford use all the SAT scores.  For a complete list of SAT Score-Use Practices by Participating Institution, please click the following:

Students who wish to go to university in America should take the SAT test, as it is required by most American universities. The PSAT/NMSQT is the “Preliminary” SAT. The PSAT scores are not sent to universities. Students who meet the entry requirements and score high, may qualify for a National Merit Scholarship or other special scholarships for college undergraduate study.

We recommend that our students take the PSAT each year, until their Junior year because it is good to practice under test conditions.

Yes, Wake Forest is one of many American universities that make the SAT or ACT optional in the application process. For a list of American universities that do not use the SAT or ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into Bachelor degree programs, please click the following:

We believe that it is never too early to begin preparing for the SAT. Most students will use their scores from their Junior or Senior year of high school. Students should already be preparing for the SAT in their Freshman or Sophomore year of high school. We have students as young as grade 3, who are already preparing for their SATs, by preparing for the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test).

For more information, please click the following:

The International Test Dates are in October, November, December, January, May, and June each year. The registration deadline is usually one month in advance. It is advisable to register early. For exact dates, please click the following link:

The International Test Dates are in November, December, January, March, and April each year. The registration deadline is usually one month in advance. It is advisable to register early. For exact dates, please click the following link:

The International Test Dates are in October, December, February, April, and June each year. The registration deadline is usually one month in advance. It is advisable to register early. For exact dates, please click the following link:

As of September 2012, College Board still does not offer an SAT Economics Subject Test, however College Board does offer Microeconomics AP and Macroeconomics AP. Top universities like Harvard require two SAT Subject Tests.Georgetown is the only major university that recommends three SAT Subject Tests.

Chemistry is required by most UK med schools, while Biology, Physics, and Mathematics are recommended. The typical A Level offer for Cambridge Medicine’s Standard Course is A*AA, and the typical IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 or 777 at Higher Level. Cambridge Med School requires the applicants to take the Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT) after making their application and before interview. The standard entry requirements for Medicine at Oxford is also A*AA or an overall IB score of 39 points with 766 at Higher Level. Oxford Med School also requires the applicants to take the Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT). The University of Leicester’s Medicine Departments standard offer is AAA or 36 points for IB with 6 required in all subjects. Leicester Med School applicants must take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) before they apply.

International Scholars Tuition School academic counselors are available to help you strengthen your medical school application through course selection, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, recommended reading, and interview skills, whether you apply directly or through UCAS.

If you have not registered for Chemistry at your school, IST can help you register as a private candidate for the CIE IGCSE Chemistry examination held in October/November or May/June, which may be taken at your school or at the HKEAA. To help you prepare for the CIE IGCSE Chemistry examination, IST recommends that you take the IGCSE Chemistry Course to ensure that you have covered all the required curriculum. Once the syllabus has been covered, you should book one-to-one lessons to focus on mastering the topics that are difficult for you.

Generally speaking, the best time to take the SAT Subject Test is “as soon as possible after completing the course in the subject”. Most students take the SAT Subject Tests at the end of their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year. The College Board has created an excellent high school plan that breaks down the best times to take the PSAT/NMSQT, the SAT Reasoning Test, and SAT Subject Tests. IST tutors have the resources and experience to help Hong Kong students achieve excellent result as they prepare for the SAT Reasoning Test, and the SAT Subject Tests in Literature, US History, World History, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, Spanish, Italian, or Chinese. To book one of our SAT Subject Tutors, please contact us.

Harvard College is the school for undergraduate students at Harvard UniversityHarvard Business SchoolHarvard Law School, and Harvard Medical School are other well known schools at Harvard University.

Harvard, as well as many other top American universities, looks for students, who will make the university a better place, by bringing something special. Some successful applicants have distinguished themselves by showing unusual academic promise or by demonstrating excellence, while others distinguish themselves by overcoming significant obstacles or unusual personal circumstances, while others have made significant contributions to their schools or communities. In addition to high SAT scores, successful Harvard applicants will also be enthusiastic, creative, and have strength of character.

For B.A. Law, the University of Cambridge asks for A*AA at A level for its typical offer or 40-42 points at IB, with 776 or 777 at Higher Level. Each individual college has its own set of entrance assessments, ranging from preparatory study, school / college essay submission, and formal written tests at interview. Note that Cambridge no longer uses the Law National Admissions Test (LNAT) . Most colleges ask for the Cambridge Law Test, a one-hour, one-question written test, ordinarily sat during the student’s time in Cambridge immediately before or after interview. Applicants who take the test at overseas interview centres will sit a slightly different version of it, in that they will be required to answer two questions in two hours.
There are no essential or especially desirable A level combinations suggested by Cambridge; You do not have to have studied GCSE or A level Law to be considered, since the B.A. will bear little resemblance to content studied for either of these qualifications. Candidates with an academic background in either the arts, sciences or a combination of the two will be equally well prepared and thus their applications considered on an equal basis.

The University of Oxford offers two routes through its Law school: Course I is a three-year course and Course II is a four-year course which follows the same syllabus, with the extra year being spent abroad following a prescribed course at a university within the European Union in either France, Italy, Spain, or the Netherlands.

Oxford makes conditional offers for A-Level students ranging between A*A*A and AAA depending on the subjects studied and overall quality of the application. For IB candidates, Oxford asks for 38–40 points, including core points, with 6s and 7s in the higher level subjects.

Candidates are also expected to have at least a C grade in GCSE Mathematics, or other evidence to demonstrate that they are appropriately numerate. Oxford accepts any subjects at A-level except for General Studies. There is no particular advantage or disadvantage to studying Law before you apply.

Candidates applying for Law with Law Studies in Europe would be expected to have the relevant modern language to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. However, if the candidate wishes to spend their third year of study in the Netherlands (studying European and International Law), then a modern language is not essential since the course is taught in English.

All candidates applying to study Law at Oxford for entry in 2013 (or for deferred entry in 2014) must sit the Law National Admissions Test (LNAT) between 1 September and 20 October 2012. Candidates for Law with Law Studies in Europe who are applying for the French, German, Italian or Spanish law options may be given an oral test in the relevant European language at the time of interview.

Imperial College London does not offer a law degree.

The London School of Economics offers undergraduates the opportunity to study Law either as a three-year LLB (Bachelor of Laws), or in a joint honours degree with Anthropology. The Department of Law also runs a double degree programme with Columbia University Law School in New York. This LSE LLB/JD (juris doctor) programme is open to LLB students and applications are invited during their second year of study.

LSE asks for A*AA at A- level for its typical offer, with the A* in a generally preferred subject (with some flexibility for candidates who do not conform to the standard pattern of qualifications). for IB, LSE asks for 38 points, with 766 or 666 at Higher level. Most candidates will have already achieved excellent GCSE results, including the majority at A and A*. 
A level Law is not considered an advantage for this course, nor; nor is it a requirement that the LNAT be taken. The selectors are looking for evidence of intellectual diversity and curiosity rather than being overly influenced by individual subject combinations.

Since LSE does not routinely interview candidates, the Personal Statement takes on an extra level of importance in differentiating between academically able candidates.

As a registered school and UCAS Centre, IST can submit your application on your behalf and track its progress.

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