Educational Comparison

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This page discusses the difference between the English (UK and Hong Kong) and American (US and Canada) educational systems. It is hoped that this will give the reader an understanding of the different terms used in the different school systems. Though the terminology is different it is remarkable at how similar these school systems are.

General Comparison

The following table shows the (relative) ages and equivalent grades/ levels in the two different educational systems.

Age American UK Hong Kong
Grade Canada US Normal/Comprehensive Old Schools6 Grade  
Year Normal Alternative
2         Nursery School (Optional) Pre-Prep    
3 Pre-Shool/Daycare/Junior Kindergarten (Optional)   k1 Kindergarten (Compulsary)
4   K2
5 Kindergarten 1 Primary School Play/Pre-School K3
6 1 Primary/Elementary School 2 Infant School P1 Primary School
7 2 3 Junior Prep P2
8 3 4 Middle (Junior) School Primary School P3
9 4 5 P4
10 5 6 P5
11 6 7 Grammar School P6
12 7 Junior High 8 High School/ Comprehensive/ Secondary S1 (Form) Secondary School7
13 8 9 Senior S2
14 9 10 S3
15 10 High School4 Freshman 11 S4
16 11 Sophomore   College3 S5
17 12 Junior   S6 Matriculation (Matric)
18 131 Senior   University5 S7
18/19 + 3/4 Years University/College   University/College


  • 1 Grade 13 is no longer used in Canada but used to provide University level entrance qualifications (Grade 12 was college level).
  • 2 3 - 4 years is for a typical undergraduate degree, obviously, higher degrees require more years to be spent in University/College. In the UK 4 years can include a “industrial placement” year (working out in the “real world” for the 3rd year).
  • 3 “College” can also be refered to as “6th form” in the case where the institution is closely linked to the high school. Normally college is 2 years.
  • 4 “High School” is the same term used in Canada/US with the terms indicated being used more often in the US.
  • 5 “University” in England is 3 years while in Scotland it is 4 years with the final year being the “honors” year. “University” occurs after 6th form/college or when “mature”.
  • 6 “Old Schools” are “where they talk posh or have heritage or boarding schools”.
  • 7 Formerly known as “Middle School”. Grades S6 and S7 of secondary school are generally known as “Matriculation” (or “Matric”) and are roughly equivalent to the sixth form in the UK.


This section will discuss entrance requirements to these institutions as well as organizational differences in the institution structures.

Thanks to Paul, Wyatt, Ian, Raymond, Shirley, Mike, and Judy for their feedback on the contents of this page.