Difference Between The US And UK Grading Systems

Difference Between The Uk And Us Grading Systems

The educational systems of the US and the UK are well-known for their prestigious colleges and universities, comprehensive research outputs, and high academic standards. Students from all over the world are drawn to these nations because of their esteemed colleges and plentiful opportunities for post-graduate employment. In the following article, we analyse the differences between the US and UK grading systems and other differences in academic organisations and their evaluation processes.

Difference Between The US And UK Grading Systems

The main differences between the US and UK grading systems lie in the grading scales, pass/fail criteria, and the structure of the education systems. In the UK, grades are typically represented by letters, with an A indicating excellence and anything above 70% considered outstanding. In the table below, you can find some more information about this:

Scale of GradingGenerally use letter grades and a 4.0 GPA system.Using a different measure, such grade points or percentages
Letters of grade  A, B, C, D, and FA, B, C, D, E, and F
A passing gradeUsually needs a D or above to passUsually needs a C or above to pass
Averaging by GradeFrequently uses plus and minus ratings for the accuracyDoesn’t usually use minus or plus grades
Averages of Final GradesCalculated cumulative GPA combining all courses completedOften use a calculated mean of coursework and final examinations
OverviewGPA, course names, and credits are included on transcriptsGrades, credits, and at times rankings are included on transcripts.
Designation of HonoursIncludes titles such as Magna Cum Laude and Cum LaudeMay be divided into several honours categories according to percentages
Conversion of GradesCan be converted into equivalent UK grades for purposesConversion may vary depending on the institution and context

UK Grading System Explained

It is important to know the difference between a normal degree and one with honours before exploring the difference between US and UK grading systems. A normal degree takes three years to complete, offers freedom in topic selection, and requires 15 credits to graduate. On the other hand, an honours degree takes four years to complete and requires 20 credits to graduate with adequate scores in the major areas. 

Particularisation in a particular academic area is another requirement of honours degrees, highlighting a higher degree of study and proficiency. This distinction emphasises how an honours degree differs from an ordinary degree in terms of the level and specialisation of academic research.

70% and aboveAExcellent to Outstanding
60-69%BGood to Very Good
Less than 40%FUnsatisfactory

According to the United Kingdom’s university grading structure, obtaining a 70% mark translates into an A letter grade, signifying a thorough understanding of the material. This is unlike other international schooling systems, where an A starts at 90%. It’s crucial to remember that under the UK system, getting a grade of between 90 and 100 per cent is prevalent.

Every grade range listed above is important for honours degrees:

  • 70% and above: The highest achievement, First Class designation.
  • 60%–69%: Upper second-class distinction,
  • 50% to 59%: Lower Second-Class Distinction
  • 40% to 49%: Third-Class Distinction

In the UK, master’s degrees are graded similarly to bachelor’s degrees, but in different categories:

  • 70% to 100%: Distinction (some colleges have a minimum requirement of 75%).
  • 60%–69%: Merit or Merit for Commendation
  • 50% to 59%: Pass
  • 40% to 49%: Borderline Pass
  • Less than 40%: Fail

US Grading System Explained

Beginning with as you know, the US and UK grading systems are different so in contrast to the United Kingdom, undergraduate university degrees in the USA generally take place over four years(4 yrs), with a minimum of fifteen credit hours(15 hrs) being completed each semester. 

In the United States, grades are assigned using a four-point (4pt) grading system called GPA (Grade Point Average). Your total GPA at graduation is determined by adding all the points you receive after each term. The USA also uses percentages and letter grades to evaluate your continuous academic progress.

Below 65%E/F0.0

How To Calculate The GPA?

  • You can find the grade for each course by multiplying the grade obtained by the number of credit hours.
  • Total the grade points you have received for all of your courses.
  • Calculate the total number of credit hours earned from all of your courses.
  • To find your cumulative GPA, divide your total grade points by the total number of credit hours.
  • Concentrate on doing well in fewer classes at first to build a strong foundation if you want to raise your GPA.

Value of every grade 

  • 90%-100%: Excellent
  • 80%-89%: Good
  • 70%-89%: Satisfactory
  • 65%-69%: Less Satisfactory
  • Less than 65%: Fail

Like the UK, the USA awards academic honours and prizes to high-achieving students, including:

  • Summa cum laude: Awarded to the top 1% to 5% of graduates with GPAs over 4.0, this title denotes the highest accolades.
  • Magna cum laude: Given to pupils who score between 3.8 and 3.9 on the GPA or to the top 10% to 15% of students overall.
  • Cum laude: Awarded to pupils with GPAs between 3.5 and 3.7 or the top 20% to 30% of students.
  • Honour Student: Awarded to pupils who demonstrate excellence in several honours courses.
  • The Dean’s List Award: It is given out during graduation ceremonies to students who have excelled academically and varies depending on the school.

Additional awards include:

  • The student who performs the best academically in their graduating degree is named valedictorian.
  • As the class salutatorian, students are acknowledged as the second-best performing student.

How Do Assessments And Their Weight Differ?

It is important to acknowledge the different ways universities use assessment procedures while comparing the US and UK grading systems and comprehending assessment procedures. While UK colleges prioritise overall assessments and evaluation for grading, US institutions use continual assessments, such as projects and examinations, to determine final grades. 

While coursework and exams are part of the semester in UK colleges, their importance may differ from that of the US system. Variations in the two nations’ courses and regions may also impact the weighting and grading techniques.

The differences and subtleties in higher learning approaches are highlighted by contrasting the US and UK grading systems and assessment techniques used in the US and the UK. The UK gives final exams and projects more weight than the US, emphasising continual evaluations throughout the semester. 

These variances highlight how crucial it is to comprehend course-specific needs and geographical variations when managing academic endeavours. Ultimately, both systems seek to efficiently assess students’ knowledge and abilities while providing unique yet worthwhile avenues for professional and educational growth.


What distinguishes the grading systems used primarily in the US and the UK?

The primary distinction is the method used to compute and show grades. While the UK employs percentages and categories such as First Class distinction, Upper Second-Class distinction, and so on, the US bases its system on GPA (Grade Point Average).

To what extent do grades matter when applying to universities in the US and the UK?

UK colleges could place greater emphasis on academic accomplishments and particular course admission criteria. US institutions frequently take GPA into account in addition to other aspects, including extracurricular activities and essays.

Do colleges in the UK use GPA as well?

No, most categories and percentages UK institutions use are First Class distinction, Upper Second-Class distinction, etc. Certain UK universities could offer GPA equivalents for particular purposes, especially for overseas students.

What advantages does the US GPA mechanism offer?

The US GPA system is a simple method for assessing academic success across many courses and schools. It is generally known and advantageous for foreign applicants to US colleges.

What are the differences between US and UK university assessment methods?

While UK colleges emphasise final exams and studies, US institutions frequently conduct ongoing evaluations during the semester.

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Difference Between The Uk And Us Grading Systems

Difference Between The US And UK Grading Systems

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