Yes I have already done a list like this. No I haven't run out of list ideas. The U.K. system is confusing. Let me break it down for you! (Also Lindi asked for this and I will do anything she asks). Shoutout to @evak who initially requested this list!
  1. Ok first up, age 11, we get our acceptance letter! It's delivered to our house via owl
  2. Included with that letter is a list of things we need to get for school. Books, quills, wands, broomsticks, a rat or owl. The usual, you know?
  3. In September you take the train from Kings Cross station, platform 9 3/4...
  4. ...
  5. Ok enough of that. REAL BRITISH SCHOOLING.
    Incredibly, it is not like Hogwarts.
  6. Here's some basic lingo for you to begin with:
    British kids attend primary school from ages 4-11. To Americans, I guess it's like elementary and middle school combined? (Except you finish at a younger age.) There are no real exams at this age. You get to do fun things like make projects about Ancient Egypt or play cricket all day. We also wear uniforms.
    We attend high school from ages 11 to 16. From 11-14 you do compulsory lessons in a range of subjects (maths, English, science, arts, humanities etc). From 14-16 you sit GCSE exams. We still wear uniforms. The way you wear your tie is VERY important and dictates which social group you fit in with.
    This is a high school that requires students to pass an exam in order to study there. You're probably thinking, "but Alex, isn't it cruel to make 11 year olds sit one exam that will determine the rest of their education and possibly leave them demoralised and disillusioned with their school system?" Yes, yes it is but England and Northern Ireland are built on these schools and they're VERY hard to get rid of.
    This is pretty much the opposite of what you would think. It's the same thing as an American private school i.e. you need to pay to get in. *Fun fact that I just learnt from Wikipedia* Of our 53 Prime Ministers, 44 went to public school. 19 went to one very famous public school, Eton College. MERITOCRATIC, RIGHT?
    This is otherwise known as "higher education". Pupils attend college from 16-18. This isn't compulsory and some choose instead to do a vocational qualification (builder, beautician, chef etc) or get an apprenticeship. Colleges are usually a precursor to university. And, you don't have to wear a uniform! Finally!!!
    Just like American college, except most degrees tend to be 3 years instead of 4! Typically you need certain qualifications to attend university, known as A Levels. You apply for 5 universities and then, if you are offered *conditional* places at these unis, you narrow it down to your 2 top choices. Whether you are accepted or not depends on what grades you get on your A Levels. (I think this is like what SATs you get OR what your GPA is?) You also choose your major before attending.
  13. GCSEs
    General Certificates of Secondary Education. These are standardised exams that every student in England and Wales sits (its slightly different in Northern Ireland and Scotland). Students sit these in their last year of high school, age 15/16. It varies but most students sit 10 GCSEs (that's about 20 exams). The goal is to pass at least 5 GCSEs because that's what most jobs, college courses and apprenticeships require. I somehow managed to scrape 5 A*s and 5 As. 😇
  14. A LEVELS
    Advanced Levels. These are optional standardised exams that many students opt to do age 16-18. If you want to sit these, you need to go to college. Most sit 3 or 4 A Levels and the subjects are completely optional. For example, I chose French, history, sociology and English lit.
    You sit GCSEs and A Levels in May/June time. You don't find out your results until the dreaded RESULTS DAY. GCSE results day is always the last Thursday of August and A Level results day is the third Thursday of August. Your local newspaper will usually be there and make you take lame pictures like this one.
  16. Now onto the FAQs:
    "Frequently asked by who?" I hear you saying. Just roll with it.
  17. "What subjects did you choose for GCSE?"
    I sat exams in maths, English, chemistry, biology, physics, religious studies, IT, history, geography, French and graphic design.
  18. "Were your exams difficult?"
    GCSEs, not really. Although at the time I thought they were. There were a lot of one sentence answers and you'd never write more than a page for one question in any subject. A Levels are much more difficult. My subjects required about 2 essays for each exam. I also had a speaking exam in French which was frankly terrifying.
  19. "How is college different from high school?"
    You don't have to attend college. It's optional. It's often an entirely separate institution, although my college was actually attached to my high school, just to be confusing.
  20. "Are those ties itchy?"
    No. But you must act like they are as an excuse for undoing your top button. Only losers have their top button done up.
  21. "What do you mean your exams aren't multiple choice?"
    An American I met whilst inter-railing told me that Americans sit multiple choice exams. I thought he was joking. He isn't, right?
  22. "Isn't the concept of public schools weird and incredibly backward?"
    No comment.
  23. "Is that David Cameron in the black and white photo?"
    Yes and that's Boris Johnson on the front row. That's the infamous Bullingdon Club, look it up. (That's from their time at Oxford University not Eton btw)
  24. "When is your results day?"
    It's tomorrow and I'm shitting it. Thanks for asking!
  25. "Did you enjoy school?"
    Yes I loved it. Education is such a privilege and I feel very lucky. A Levels were stressful as hell and I cried almost every week but I'm glad I did it.
  26. Hope this is less confusing for you! Feel free to ask any more questions and I'll do my best to explain 🎓📚