A Comparative Study of British EducationSystem and American Education System


东方教育 2016年12期


Abstract:In this paper,British and American education system has comparative study. And British and American education system at different time is introduced at length,which makes the main part of the paper. Then,the differences between the British and American education system are briefly discussed. Surely,it has some similarities and difference between British education and American education. Lastly,the reason of the difference between British and American education system is clarified here.

Key words:comparative,British and American education,similarities,differences


Education is a hot topic. Every country pays much attention to the education. However,every country has different geographical position,history and culture. In this way,they have different education system. According to the world university rankings compiled by the Times Higher Education,more than half of the worlds top 200 universities are located in the US and the UK. Both countries share a rich tradition of quality higher education,advanced research facilities,and multiculture. Lots of students from all over the world apply for further study at British or American schools. Here,we introduce something about British and American education.

1 British education system

All children between the ages of 5 and 16 have compulsory Education in Britain. There are comprehensive schools,grammar schools,vocational school. Now,education is divided into four periods:primary education,secondary education,further education and higher education. There are two systems including state system and independent system for primary and secondary education. Students between the age of 5 to 11 generally attend state primary schools. Some children before the age of five go to kindergartens. Students aged 11 are take in state secondary schools. After finishing their schooling at 16,students are required to take a national examination------the General Certificate of Secondary Education(GCSE). Having completed their GCSE,they may decide to continue education called the “sixth form”,which lasts for two years. Then,they take A-levels exam. Admittance to university is based on A-levels results,school references and an interview. Others may choose to take vocational school. Students spend three years studying for the first degree-(B.A.)or(B.S.)and one year for a(M.A.)or(M.S.). It is required that obtaining a doctoral degree is three to four years of additional study and research. British government pays attention to the universities and there are scholarship and maintenance grant. There are some famous universities,such as Cambridge,Edinburgh. It may accept English tests such as IELTS for foreign students to qualify for a degree program.

2 American education systems

America education in the United States is made up of elementary,secondary and higher education. The elementary and secondary are compulsory and divided into 12 grades. According to the age,the basic of public education is mainly divided into the following three types:(1)elementary school:Grades1-6.(2)junior high school:Grades7-8.(3)senior high school:Grades9-12. In American,there is no annual college entrance examination. That College applicants are chosen depends on their high school records,recommendations from their high school,the Scholastic Aptitude Test(SAT). The higher education consists of four different institutions:firstly,the university;secondly,the four-year undergraduate institutions-college;thirdly,the technical training institution;and the two year community college. In America,an undergraduate has to earn a certain number of “credits” to receive the degree of(B.A.)or(B.S.)after four years of study. In general,There are some famous universities,such as Harvard and Yale universities. It may accept English tests such as TOEFL for foreign students.

3 The similarities and difference between British education and American education

When it comes to similarities,they inspire students to come into the society and pay attention to social practice. In British and American higher education,more and more students are active in outdoors activities where they discuss and exchange their ideas. They dont put emphasis on the scores rather than developing the talents of each child for the main purpose,no matter to what extent the high or low. Attached great importance to education and the development of individual students is the common features of American education. As for differences,America education attaches great importance to students' questioning and research ability. British school cares about individual differences and advocate academic freedom. Education in the United States,everyone in the society but do not specifically designed for the small number of people. Compared to the UK's education standard,the U.S. education is more open,pay attention to pragmatism.

4 The reasons of the differences

Britain is a constitutional monarchy,while the USA is the federal system of the State. The two countries have different system of government,which is the main reason for different education between the two countries. Then,the British character is described as conservative. And the American character is characterized by open. The United States of America pay attention to scientific technology and research development,including the education innovation.


There are some similarities and differences between British and American education. It cant be denied that their education represents top level in the world. UK education is aimed at helping students develop their potential,and thus contribute to society. American education is to develop the talents of each child,regardless of children race,religion,sex,learning problems,physical handicap to speak English. Both them put emphasis on students interest. In short,British and American education highlight the students to communicate with people and other social activities,to cultivate students' team spirit.


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[2] Xianglin Wu,Selected Reading In English And American Literature,China Translation&Publishing Corporation,2005 .