UK vs US: The Grading System

At the end of the last week I began to start receiving my grades back from my first assignments. One thing I did not think to look into before studying in the UK was how different the grading systems are so I decided that would be the topic I focus on this week. To say I panicked when looking at my grade for the first time would be a vast understatement and luckily, I had friends sitting at the table to explain to be why my panic was ridiculous. The first grade I received back was a in the 70% range. As you know, this is the range of a letter C grade in the US. So, when I see that percentage and my friends are all saying “That is amazing” you can see where I may be confused due to experiencing 22 years of the US grading system. Here is a table below that hopefully clarifies this:

As seen above there are no letter grades like there are in the United States. When I called my parents, I had to explain this after the initial reaction of “What are you doing where you are getting C’s?”. Even after trying to explain over the phone I finally found a table that helped them through all of the confusion and that changed to a “Wow, you are doing really great!”. It still feels odd getting excited and celebrating a grade in the 70% range with friends, but I am adjusting to it. For postgraduate students 50% in modules is passing and 40% for undergraduates.

The other change is there are no GPAs in the UK like 4.0s. The GPA is replaced by what is seen in the table, which are Firsts, 2.1, and 2.2. When looking at the requirements to apply you will see these requirements listed for the UK students. First would be similar to 4.0 GPA and 2.1 and 2.2 would be similar to a split of the 3.0 GPA range. The visuals that I was able to find were a big help to have a better understanding of the grading system as well as my parents. Explaining it is one thing, but being able to relate it to the US system that we are all used to turns the confusion into a much better understanding.

Hopefully, this will help you understand the system much more before applying to university. Also, once you arrive and get your first grade back you can avoid that mini panic with your friends looking at you like you are a crazy person because you are upset about a 70 percent range mark on an assessment.