School profile 2020-2021


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 at Plovdiv and a girls’ school founded in 1863 at 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. ACS is among the top private college preparatory schools in the Balkans. Admission is highly selective. Integrating the values and best practices of American pedagogy with the rich educational traditions of Bulgaria and Europe, we seek to develop critical thinking, lifelong intellectual curiosity, leadership, and collaboration among multi-talented students of various social, cultural, economic, and geographic backgrounds. ACS graduates are accepted into some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. and Europe and are valued critical thinkers and problem solvers able to set clear goals and achieve them. They are engaged in social issues and are able to compete with outstanding students world-wide.  We provide a rigorous university preparatory education to motivated young people and are fully accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, as well as the International Baccalaureate Organization. Currently the IB Diploma Program is only available to non-Bulgarian international students. The majority of students receive both a Bulgarian diploma and an American diploma. The ACS curriculum is rigorous and most courses are taught in English at an advanced college/university preparatory level.


ACS is an approved secondary school under the auspices of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, 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.


ACS’s student population of 901 is 97% Bulgarian (with 15% of students coming from outside Sofia), and 3% international students who represent 10 other countries. There are 166 students in the Class of 2021. Admission to ACS for Bulgarians is based on the results of an entrance examination taken in the spring of 7th grade in Bulgarian language, mathematics and analytical skills. Knowledge of English is not required. Each year the highest scoring 180 students in the country are admitted to the College. Last year, 37% of applicants who applied to the College were admitted, and 73% of the admitted students enrolled. Admitted students then spend a full "prep" year studying English. 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 7,000 Euros. All families who require financial assistance may apply, and about 29% of the students in the entering prep class received a reduction in tuition fees.

Structure and Curriculum

All ACS courses are advanced college/university preparatory level, as the pace and depth is necessary in order for them to achieve the two diplomas and pass the final examinations. ACS has five academic grades: 8th or "prep" grade (in which emphasis is placed on intensive English training) and the four high school grades, 9th _ 12th. All students earn an American High School Diploma. Bulgarian students also earn the Bulgarian Diploma, the curriculum for which is largely dictated by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, and international students also earn the IB Diploma. A summary of ACS students’ weekly academic schedule by grade level is charted below. In grades 9-10 all courses are taught in English except Bulgarian and foreign languages. During grades 11-12 all courses are taught in English except Bulgarian Language & Literature, foreign languages, Bulgarian geography and Bulgarian history (in grade 12). Profiles are areas of academic concentration in which students go into more depth as well as breadth. For ACS students graduating after 2021 we are offering a wider selection of profiled education in the following areas: math, software and hardware technologies, humanitarian sciences, foreign languages, natural sciences, and entrepreneurship.

Subject Prep 9th 10th 11th 12th
English 20 6 5 5.5 6
Bulgarian 4 3 3.5 3 5
Mathematics 3 3 3 5 5
Biology   2.5 2 2  
Chemistry   2.5 2 2  
Physics   2.5 2 2  
Foreign Language   2 2 2 3
History   4 3.5 2 2
Geography   2 2.5 1.5 1
Philosophy 1 1 2 1.5 2
Physical Science 1        
Computers 3 1 0.5 1.5 2
Physical Education 3 3 3 3 3
Art 0.5 0.5      
Music 0.5 0.5      
Electives   2 4 4 4
Student Selected Profile   1.5 1 2 3
Total Hours Per Week 36 37 37 37 36

International Baccalaureate (IB) Program

At ACS, the IB program is available only to International Students. The Class of 2020 is the fourteenth ACS class to have its International members graduating with either an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma or subject specific certificates, as well as the American high school diploma. In 2020 seven 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 2-6 according to the standards noted in the chart below. A 6.0 is the highest possible GPA. All academic courses are taught at an advanced college/university - preparatory level, and students are required to maintain a 4.50 average or above. 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.

Grading System

6 (A) Excellent (91.5 - 100%)
5 (B) Very Good (80.5 - 91.4%)
4 (C) Satisfactory (70.5 - 80.4%)
3 (D) Needs Improvement (59.5 - 70.4%)
2 (F) Unsatisfactory (0 - 59.4%)
Class of 2021 MEAN GPA
Prep Year 5.44
9th  Grade 5.55
10th Grade 5.68
11th Grade 5.59


SAT and SAT Subject Test Results for the Class of 2020

On average, 50% of ACS seniors take the SAT I exam each year. The Class of 2021 SAT I median is 1400 on the 1600 scale. ACS Class of 2021 median scores on SAT Subject Tests are noted below:

Subject Exam No. of Students Average Score
Biology Ecology 3 610
Chemistry 1 770
English Literature 2 580, 670
French with Listening 1 750
Biology Molecular 1 770
Math I 11 730
Math II 6 690
Physics 2 550, 730
World History 1 740

The College’s CEEB code is: 718180. 

ACS offers optional SAT and AP preparation electives. The purpose of these electives is to familiarize students with standardized testing not typical for Bulgarian school. Under no circumstances can students miss regular classes to prepare for admission exams (SATs, AP, or local university exams etc.)

Advanced Placement (AP) Testing

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 10-12 sat for 33 tests in 18 subject areas. In 2020, 47 students from grades 9-12 sat for tests; 86% earned a 3 or better; 64% scored a 4 or 5.

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, 98% of ACS seniors apply to non-Bulgarian colleges and universities each year. ACS students from the classes of 2011–2018 have attended undergraduate programs in the following colleges and universities, oftentimes having been awarded significant scholarship or financial aid from US institutions:


Exeter, U of

Oxford, U of

Erasmus U (Rotterdam)

Bates College

Ohio Wesleyan U


Glasgow, U of

Oxford Brookes U

European U (Barcelona)

Bennington College

Pace U

Medical U (Sofia)

Glasgow School of Art

Plymouth, U of

Graz, U of

Bentley U

Pennsylvania, U of

National Academy of Art

Greenwich, U of

Portsmouth, U of

Groningen, U of

Berklee College of Music

Pomona College

New Bulgarian U

Hull, U of

Reading, U of

Heinrich Heine U

Brown U

Princeton U

Sofia U

Imperial College

Robert Gordon U

Hochschule Deggendorf

Chicago, U of

Ramapo College (NJ)


Kingston U

Salford, U of

Hotel Institute Montreux

Columbia U

Reed College

Aberdeen, U of

Lancaster U

Sheffield, U of

Instituto Europeo di Design

Cornell U

Richmond, U of

Abertay Dundee U

Leeds, U of

Sheffield College

Jacobs U (Bremen)

Dartmouth College

Savannah College

Arts U Bournemouth

Leicester, U of

Sheffield Hallam U

John Cabot U (Rome)

Davidson College

Stanford U

Aston U

Liverpool, U of

Southampton, U of

Maastricht U

Dickinson College

Suffolk U

Bangor U

London, U of

Southampton Solent U

NABA (Milan)

Drexel U

Syracuse U

Bath, U of

 -Goldsmiths College

St. Andrews, U of

Roosevelt Academy

Flagler College

Trinity U

Birmingham, U of

 -King's College

Stirling, U of

Sciences Po

George Washington U

Tufts U

Birmingham City U

 -Queen Margaret U College

Strathclyde, U of

Technische U München

Grinnell College


Bournemouth U

 -Queen Mary College

Surrey, U of

The American U of Paris

Harvard U

UC San Diego

Brighton, U of

 -Royal Holloway

U for the Creative Arts

The Hague U

Indiana U

Vanderbilt U

Bristol, U of

 -University College London

Warwick, U of


Johns Hopkins U

Vassar College

Brunel U

London Metropolitan U

Westminster, U of

Twente, U of

Kenyon College

Washington and Lee U

Buckinghamshire New U

Loughborough U

West of Scotland, U of

University College Utrecht

Macalester College

Wellesley College

Cambridge, U of

Manchester, U of

York, U of

VIA U College (Aarhus)

McGill U

Williams College

Cardiff U

Manchester Metropolitan U


Vienna, U of

Miami, U of

Worcester Polytechnic Inst.

Courtauld Inst. of Art

Middlesex U

BHMS (Luzern)

Vienna U of Technology

Mount Holyoke College

Yale U

Coventry U

Newcastle U

Bocconi U

Webster U (Vienna)

New York U


Dundee, U of

Northampton, U of

Delft U of Technology


North Carolina, U of

Central Queensland U

Durham U

Nottingham, U of

Den Haag Hotelschool

Adelphi U

Northeastern U

New York U, Abu Dhabi

Edinburgh, U of

Nottingham Trent U

EBS Universität

American U

Northwestern U

New York U, Shanghai

Edinburgh Napier U


Oberlin College

Pontifical Catholic U