U.S. vs. U.K Education System: Finals Edition

Choosing between coming to the United States or the United Kingdom for college was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. The differences between both educational systems are astonishing, as they rarely correlate with one another.

In order to understand the differences between the US and UK educational systems, it is important to understand the structures of both. In the US, schools either follow a semester or quarter system. Each term having their different classes, grading scales, and finals. Nonetheless, in the UK, the school year is divided into three terms. Two are dedicated for regular classes, and one specifically for exams, which are conducted in May.

In Britain, students are scheduled to graduate in three years if they are capable of skipping foundation year, which is the understood expectation from students aiming to succeed in the British system. Students can also major in law or medicine as an undergraduate, which is not possible in the American system.

Despite how pleasing graduating college in three years sounds, when it comes to final exams, the American educational system comes as a treat.

I personally do not do well on testing, and graduating from a high school that followed the British system, finals have always been a struggle. Alas, since it is finals week, let me shed light on the blessings of being in an American educational system.


Autonomy over Classes

The British education system is by far stricter and has lesser leniency than the American one. In the UK, students follow a strict unchangeable class schedule that is standardized for everyone majoring in a specific area. Conversely, students in the US are able to choose which classes they want to take, and when to take them.


Final Exam Weight

In the UK, the final exam accounts for 70% of the subject grade. That makes the final exam the only determinant in regards to whether a student passes or fails a subject. Nonetheless, in the United States, the final exam generally accounts for 10-20% of the subject's grade. Sometimes, students are not even required to take a final exam if the professor does not find it necessary.



The final exams taken by university students at the United Kingdom are standardized, and are taken by all students studying a certain field. However, in the United States, professors have full autonomy over the structure of the final and each class would take the exam prepared by their professors.


Professor Autonomy

In the United States, professors have full autonomy over which percentage is associated with what. They are capable of assigning an assignment that is worth more than the final exam. That is not the case in the United Kingdom. Professors only have autonomy over 30% of the subject's grade, which they allocate to presentations or assignments.


General Requirements

The British Educational system does not require students to take general education classes, as opposed by the American Educational System that requires students to complete a specific set of general requirements in order to graduate