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Common Terminologies Explained

Last Updated on 20 June 2022

As you navigate through our website, you will inevitably come across acronyms and terminologies that you may have a faint idea what they are about but cannot be sure.

No worries.

We have compiled a list of the common terminologies and a brief explanation of what they mean. If we missed out anything, feel free to drop us a message.

Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC)
The Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC) is an accrediting association and one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US. ACS WASC provides assistance to schools worldwide, primarily in California, Hawaii, Guam, Asia, the Pacific Region, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

American College Test (ACT)
The American College Test (ACT) is an alternative to the SAT, the main difference being that this test offers a science component. Students can take either the ACT or the SAT as a means of gaining admission.

Common Application
The standard online application form accepted by most US universities. This is where students upload their test results, all of their academic and extracurricular information along with their personal statements and supplemental essays and more.

Council of Graduate Schools
The Council of Graduate Schools is a nonprofit higher education organization with headquarters in Washington, DC. Its mission is to advance graduate education and research. Its main activities consist of best practice initiatives, data analysis, advocacy, and global engagement.

Council of International Schools (CIS)
The Council of International Schools (CIS) is a membership community working collaboratively to shape international education through professional services to schools, higher education institutions, and individuals. The final award of CIS accreditation shows that the school has achieved high standards of professional performance in international education and has a commitment to continuous improvement.

Early Action (EA) Or Early Decision (ED)
Both of these programmes allow students to apply to their first-choice schools early (many universities allow students to apply to their school – but only their school – in November with these admissions results being available in mid-December). The difference between the two is that an offer from an ED school calls for a binding commitment to attend that university, while an offer from an EA school allows students to apply to other universities in regular round and make their decision later.

Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA)
Founded in 1988, the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) is a registered Society in Singapore. It is a not-for-profit membership organisation in the international education sector. FOBISIA membership is open to international schools located in Asia that provide a British-type curriculum for a significant majority of students, previous heads of Member Schools, and educational organisations and suppliers who are of interest to Member Schools.

Grade Point Average (GPA)
A grade point average or GPA refers to a student's overall academic performance calculated in averages earned across a series of courses. Most institutions grade on a 4.0 scale with a 4.0 being the equivalent to an A or an A+.

International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
The International Primary Curriculum (IPC) is a comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum, with a clear process of learning and specific learning goals for every subject. It also develops international mindedness and encourages personal learning. IPC is used by over 730 schools in 92 countries worldwide.

Here, we are not referring to a military rank. In higher education, a major is a student’s primary area of study normally associated with the career path the student wishes to take. In the US, students do not have to “declare” their major until the end of their second year at college, giving them plenty of time to try various courses and options prior to deciding on their main focus of study.

Need-Aware vs. Need-Blind Schools
This refers to the individual university’s financial aid/admissions criteria. “Need-aware” schools take a student’s application for financial aid into account as part of their application process, while “Need-blind” schools do not take any request for aid into account and rather admit students purely on merit (addressing any request for aid post admission offer).

Regular Decision
This is the ‘deadline’ for the bulk of most applicants’ applications on the Common App. The regular decision deadline date (normally 1 January) marks when all of a student’s applications – to every university of their choice – are submitted on the Common App. Results of this decision are normally released in late March or early April.

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is the popular entrance exam administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) on behalf of the nonprofit College Board, which measures reading, writing and math skills. Most Australian and New Zealand students take their SAT during Year 11 or early Year 12. You can take the exam more than once.

Wait list
Sometimes schools do not accept or reject a student for admission, but rather place them on a “wait list”. While this is encouraging, students have to remember that being on a wait list does not guarantee eventual admission, so many students choose not to remain on the list – particularly if the school is not their first choice – and accept another university’s admission offer.

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