School Profile 2014-2015
HISTORY: The American College of Sofia (ACS) is one of the oldest American educational institutions outside the United States, tracing its roots to a boys’ school founded in 1860 in Plovdiv and a girls’ school founded in 1863 in Stara Zagora. The school was shut down in 1942 by the Bulgarian government and reopened its doors to a preparatory class of 100 students in September 1992. One class was added each year, and, in May 1997, ACS celebrated the graduation of the first class since its reopening.
ACCREDITATION: ACS is an approved secondary school under the auspices of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, and all graduates receive Bulgarian diplomas, whether or not they have met ACS’s criteria for the American diploma. ACS is fully accredited with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the International Baccalaureate Organization.
STUDENTS: ACS’s student population of 744 is 97% Bulgarian (with 15% of students coming from outside Sofia), and 3% international students who represent 10 other countries. There are 107 students in the Class of 2015. Admission to ACS for Bulgarians is based on the results of an entrance examination in Bulgarian language, mathematics, and analytical skills. Knowledge of English is not required. Each year the highest scoring 160 students in the country are admitted to the College. Last year, 53% of applicants who applied to the College were admitted, and 75% of admitted students enrolled. International and Bulgarian students who have studied abroad are admitted on the basis of English proficiency and a strong academic record in their previous school. Annual tuition for students is 5,900 Euros. All families who require financial assistance may apply, and about 33% of the students in the entering prep class received a reduction in tuition fees.
STRUCTURE AND CURRICULUM: ACS has five academic grades: prep grade (in which emphasis is placed on intensive English training) and the four high school grades, 9th-12th. ACS's curriculum for Bulgarian diploma candidates is largely dictated by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education. A summary of ACS students’ weekly academic schedule by grade level is charted below. In grades 9 and 10 all courses are taught in English except Bulgarian and foreign languages. During grades 11 and 12 all courses are taught in English except Bulgarian language and literature, foreign languages, Bulgarian geography and philosophy (in grade 12). Profiles are areas of academic concentration. All ACS students take English as their first profile and mathematics as their second profile. Choices for the student-selected profile include chemistry, physics, humanities, and computers.
INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE (IB) PROGRAM: At ACS, the IB program is available only to International Students. The Class of 2015 is the ninth ACS class to have its non-Bulgarian members graduating with either an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma or subject specific certificates. In 2013 five seniors earned the full IB diploma with an average score of 33.
GRADES AND RANKING-RATING POLICIES:
As a matter of policy, ACS does not rank or rate students. All academic courses receive grades of 2 to 6 according to the standards noted in the chart to the left. A 6.0 is the highest possible GPA. To convert GPA from the Bulgarian 6.0 system to the American 4.0 system, subtract two points from the Bulgarian system. For example, a 6.0 in the Bulgarian system is a 4.0 in the American system.
All academic courses are taught at an honors level, and students whose GPA falls below 4.50 (U.S. 2.50) are dismissed from ACS. Students who earn a semester GPA of 5.50-5.89 (U.S. 3.50-3.89) are placed on the Honor Roll. Students with a GPA of 5.90-6.00 (U.S. 3.9-4.0) are placed on the President’s List. In the event of a tie for highest GPA, the student with the most electives/credits is named Class Valedictorian at the end of the 12th grade year.
SAT AND SAT SUBJECT TEST RESULTS FOR THE CLASSES OF 2011 - 2015: On average, 50% of ACS seniors take the SAT I exam each year. ACS’s five-year average is 1305 on the 1600 scale and 1951 on the 2400 scale (294 test takers). The average critical reading, math, and writing scores were 615, 690, and 646, respectively. These scores reflect results from January 2010 through June 2014. ACS’s five-year average scores on the most popular SAT Subject Tests are noted below:
ACS offers optional SAT and AP preparation electives that meet weekly. The purpose of these electives is to familiarize 11th and 12th grade students with standardized testing, a relatively foreign concept in Bulgaria. Under no circumstances are students allowed to take time off from school to prepare for entrance exams (SAT, AP, local university exams, or otherwise). The College’s CEEB code is: 718180.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) TEST RESUTLS: In May 2008, ACS began administering AP examinations. While official AP courses are not taught at ACS, interested students may elect to self-prepare and sit for examinations. In 2008, the pilot year, 17 students from grades 10 to 12 sat for 33 tests in 18 subject areas. The results were: 90% earned a 3 or better, and 57% scored a 4 or 5. In May 2014, 67 students from grades 10-11 sat for 86 tests in 20 subject areas; 87% earned a 3 or better; 67% scored a 4 or 5. ACS’s average scores on the most popular AP exams are noted in the adjacent chart.
CREATIVITY-ACTION-SERVICE (CAS) PROGRAM and SENIOR INDEPENDENT HONORS PROJECTS (SIHP): Following the IB CAS model, all ACS students are required to complete 75 hours of extracurricular involvement each year within the areas of creativity (planning and organization of projects), action (active involvement), and service-related activities. As seniors, students may choose to complete CAS and/or SIHP. Senior Independent Honors Projects require a professional and teacher sponsor, research essay, and presentation of the project’s outcomes. Students who elect to complete a SIHP do work above and beyond ACS’s graduation requirements.
COLLEGE MATRICULATION: On average, 97% of ACS seniors apply to non-Bulgarian colleges and universities each year. As per school policy, seniors are given twelve official academic transcripts, meaning students typically apply to ten or fewer colleges in the US and abroad. ACS students from the classes of 2010-2014 have attended undergraduate programs in the following colleges and universities, oftentimes having been awarded significant scholarship or financial aid from US institutions: