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Everything you Need to Know About UK Grading System

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Yocket Editorial Team
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Every country with a globally reputable education system follows a standardised structure for academic grading. British grading system help all the stakeholders - institutions, recruiters, policymakers, education loan providers, funding sponsors and, above all, students. If you plan to study in the UK you should know about the grading systems followed in that country. It helps to understand the application requirements and eligibility for the universities you are aiming to get admitted to. For Indian students applying to UK universities, a comprehensive understanding of the prevailing UK grading scale is essential to choosing suitable courses and subjects, this blog will help you understand the same.

Table of Content:

  1. Understanding the UK Grading System
  2. UK Grading System for Higher Education
  3. UK Undergraduate Grading System
  4. UK Masters Grading System
  5. Frequently Asked Questions about UK Grading System

Understanding the University Grading System UK

The British grading system is highly appreciated and effective as it perfectly tests student achievements in terms of skills and academic strengths. Countries like Canada, Australia and even India (to some extent) follow the UK grading scale for higher studies.

However, United Kingdom does not follow the same grading methods. Northern Ireland, Wales, England share mostly the same techniques, whereas the grading system of Scotland is quite different.

The UK education system has four distinct stages: 

Stages

Assessment

Primary Education

Ends with the Standard Attainment Test or SAT.

Secondary Education

Ends with the General Certificate of Secondary Education or GCSE.

Further Education

Ends with an Advanced-Level,  International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or University Foundation

Higher Education

Ranges from a minimum of 3-year ordinary bachelor’s degree to Doctorate programs.

Note: SAT and GCSE are parts of compulsory education in the UK. GCSE is taken at the end of secondary education. Students of England, Northern Ireland and Wales typically take this course. 

UK Grading System in Compulsory Education

UK GCSE grading system follows two different types of grading scales. 

  • In England, the GCSE grading system is numerical (starting with the lowest possible grade 1, the highest possible grade 9 and the average passing grade 4). 
  • In Northern Island and Wales, GCSE follows a letter-based grading scale with A* being the highest possible letter grade and F being the lowest possible grade. In the letter grading system, D is usually a minimum passing grade. 

Students from India mostly join universities in UK for studying in graduate, post-graduate and professional programs. Besides, many Indian students appear in International Baccalaureate (IB) for the global acceptance of the diploma in higher education. 

Suggested: Top 10 reasons to study in UK

UK Grading System for Higher Education

Pre-university and subsequent higher education courses in the UK are highly selective. So, the university grading system UK put strong emphasis on accurate assessment and evaluation of students’ performances. 

UK Advanced Level Exam Grading System

Advanced Levels or A-Level is a school-leaving qualification in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. 

  • The majority of universities accept A-Level for suitability-test of applicants for subjects, courses, and programmes. 
  • The minimum passing grade is 40%. Advanced level grades are A, B, C, D, E in descending order.
  • The grade below E is unclassified or U. From 2010, the grade A* is assigned to students scoring 80% in all the six modules and 90% in at least two modules.
  • The minimum percentage equivalent of grade E is approximately 40%.

Grade Letter

Percentage Score

Grade Definition

A

80%

Pass

B

70%

Pass

C

60%

Pass

D

50%

Pass 

E

40%

Pass 

F

Unclassified 

Fail 


UK Undergraduate Grading System

A bachelor’s degree in UK can be of two types: Ordinary degree or Pass degree and Honours degree. The classification or gradation of undergraduate (with Honours) degree and ordinary degree are: 

  1. First-class - distinction 
  2. Upper second class- merit
  3. Lower second class- pass
  4. Third class -pass

Let us go through each classification one by one to develop our understanding better of UK undergraduate grading system: 

  • First-class Degree

It is the highest possible grade in undergraduate courses signifying excellent achievement, and carries a percentage equivalent of a minimum of 70% or higher. In terms of letter grade equivalent, it is equivalent to A. The number of students receiving first-class has gradually increased in the last 60 years. In 2019, roughly 29% of students were awarded first-class. In the 1990s, the number was as low as 7%. 

  • Upper Second-class Degree

The upper second-class degree (labelled as 2:1) is usually equivalent to 60% - 69%. This UK grading scale recognises students to be quite good but needs improvement in some subjects. 

  • Lower Second-class Degree

This grade boundary is equivalent to a score of 50% to 59%. The lower second class shows lower academic achievement without any sign of quality in an academic sense. 

  • Third-class Degree 

It is the lowest academic grade boundary and approximately equivalent to 40% to 49%. It is the minimum criteria to pass degree courses. Informally, the third-class is also popularly known as a “gentleman's degree.” Students receiving third-class have very few choices available at the post-graduate level or in equivalent professional fields. 

UK Masters Grading System 

Except for integrated master’s programs, all other master courses in UK follow a different UK grading scale compared to bachelor courses. University grading system UK boundaries are - 

Grading Remarks

Percentage Equivalent

Distinction

above 70%

Merit or Commendation

60% to 69% 

Pass

50% to 59% 

Borderline Pass

40% to 49% 


Academic Gradation System in Scotland

The Scottish Qualifications Authority follows a separate gradation system at the Scottish school-passing board level. The standard grades are:  

Grade

Grade Remarks

A

Highest grade

B

Very strong pass 

C

Pass

D

Borderline 

E

No award

Britain is traditionally a top higher education destination for Indian students. We have tried to give a bird’s eye view of the UK uni grading system at different levels of education in Britain. If you are planning to study in UK and have queries regarding the UK grading system and its compatibility to Indian grading system, connect with our Yocket Professionals today and know more about university grading system UK.


Frequently Asked Questions about UK Grading System

Ques. Do UK universities use the GPA system?

Ans.  The 4-point GPA system is mainly unique to North America. The UK universities do not follow the GPA grading system. However, you can roughly compare it to the university grading system UK. The First class is approximately at par, with a GPA of 4.0. 

UK Module marks 

UK degree classes

GPA

Above 70%

First-class Honours

4.0

60% to 69%

2:1 Upper second class

3.3 to 3.7

50% to 59%

2:2 Lower second class

2.7 to 3.0

40% to 49%

Third class 

2.0 to 2.7

Ques. How do I compare my Indian grades (mostly GPA) with the grading system in most UK universities?

Ans. The top Indian universities today mostly follow a 10-point GPA system. 

UK Module marks 

UK degree classes

10 point GPA

Above 80%

First-class Hons

10

75% to 79.99% 

First-class Hons

9

70% to 74.99%

First-class Hons

8

60% to 69.99%

2:1 Upper second class

7

50% to 59.99%

2:2 Lower second class

6

45% to 49.99%

Third class 

5

40% to 44.99%

Third class 

4

Ques. Is a 70% an A in the UK?

Ans. On percentage equivalent terms, 70% is equivalent to A or First-class degree in the UK. 

Ques. Does the UK grade on a curve?

Ans. Grading on the curve means adjusting students' final scores following various standardised techniques for improving the overall grade scale. All the reputable British colleges and law schools do not grade on the curve. A few of the technical engineering institutes are known to follow the practices without any pre-specified guidelines. So, the practice may be open to the decision of the authority.

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