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US Grading System 2023: Everything You Need To Know
6 min

US Grading System 2023: Everything You Need To Know

Education
6 min
|
Uploaded on
Jun 30, 2022
|
Last updated on
Mar 13, 2023
Uploaded on
Jun 30, 2022
|
Last updated on
Mar 13, 2023
US Grading System 2023: Everything You Need To Know
Let's grade the grading system!

Your parents, teachers and peers use the number to judge you, no, not your weight or age - your grades. A student’s success has historically been defined by their grades, and that practice doesn't seem like it's going to change anytime soon. So to help you better understand the system you’re stuck in, here’s our guide to the US grading system. 

Types of US grading systems

Getting acquainted with the American grading system will be the first step to learning how to ace your exams. In the USA, there are two different grading systems used. The numerical system is the first, while the alphabetical system is the second. Here is a quick and easy breakdown of the different types of US grading systems. 

Numerical US grading system

The numerical approach of the US grading system is fairly straightforward to understand. In this system, students are marked on a numbered scale that is predecided by their university or school. Depending upon how well they do, they will receive a numbered grade to assess their performance. For example, you could be scored on a percentage system and be given a grade anywhere from 0-100% 

Letter US grading system

Letter grades are obtained by students in routine tests or term exams, for example, A, B and C. It is also known as the A-F grading system. Every letter grade denotes the numerical performance of a student by a number. Students can further convert the grade into a GPA. Here is a  basic breakdown of the meaning of each letter in the american grading system. 

  • A – Excellent
  • B – Good
  • C – Average
  • D – Below-average
  • F – Fail
Letter grades in the US

Special grades

The US grading system also incorporates a few different letter grades into their grading scale. These do not exactly denote your grades, but instead are used to highlight the status of your course. However, these still show up on your transcript. So to ensure that these random letters on your mark sheet don’t confuse you, here is what they mean.

  • IP: IP is an acronym for 'In Progress. If students haven't finished parts of a subject within the stipulated time to earn the regular grade, they will probably be given this grade. Upon completion, this grade is converted to the regular grade.
  • NC: NC stands for 'Not Complete'. If a task or homework assigned to a student is not complete or the student fails to complete the same, then this grade is given to the student on the transcript. 
  • W: W here means 'withdrawn'. When a student is present or attends the classes but drops out midway, this grade is awarded to such a student.  

How are the letter & numerical systems related?

Every letter grade corresponds to a number or percentage, which is then used to calculate your GPA. Your numerical grade is used to obtain your letter grade. Each college will have its own exact denotation of which grade corresponds to what letter, but here is a general breakdown of the different letter grades and their corresponding grade range. 

GPA points system

What is GPA?

GPA is an abbreviation of grade point average, and this is the primary marking system of the US grading system. Your GPA, as the name suggests, is the overall average of all your grades for a specific time period. For a full breakdown, check out our detailed guide to GPA. 

What is GPA?

Types of GPA

Now that we've covered grades and how they're represented in the US grading system, let's look at another crucial aspect of the US grading system: the GPA. The Grade Point Average (GPA) is used throughout the country to describe students' performance. It is divided into three categories that represent different levels of study. The three categories are:

  • Class GPA
  • Semester GPA
  • Cumulative GPA
Types of GPA

How to calculate GPA

In the US grading system, the aggregate quality points gained in each unit are added to calculate GPA. The final result is divided by the total number of course credits or units (or credit hours) you attempted to arrive at your average GPA. It is not just the average of all your grades but determines your final GPA at graduation. The amount of semester hours determines how much weight it has. To get a better understanding of how your final grades will be calculated, 

Types of honours

According to the US grading system, students who meet the requirements for any level of study may receive a gratuitous honour based on their GPA. Based on other prerequisites, honours can differ from university to university. The Latin language is used for all distinctions. Relevantly, the student with a better GPA will automatically be given all three honours. 

Cum laude: With honour 

Cum laude, which in Latin means "with acclaim" or "with honour," denotes a certain level of academic success. Educational institutions use the phrase to describe an academic degree given to someone who has demonstrated honourable distinction in academic courses.

Magna cum laude: With great honour 

Students who graduate "with great distinction" are given the honorific Magna cum laude. In terms of Latin honours, it is the second-highest. The qualifications differ by institution, but it's often reserved for students who rank in the top 6–15% of their class or who have a GPA of 3.7–3.8.

Suma cum laude: With greatest honour

The greatest academic honour, summa cum laude, which translates to "with highest honour," is given to pupils who rank in the top one percent of their class or who have a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0. The prerequisites for summa cum laude can differ by institution and department, just as the magna cum laude distinction. If you want to have one of these honours plastered on your degree, it’s time to learn how to improve your GPA!

UK vs US grading system

The UK grading system uses a class grade order, in contrast to most grading systems, including the US one, which uses the alphabet to show the student's accomplishments. This system mirrors the paradigm of the British class system and dates all the way back to the institution's founding. The UK utilises letter grades similar to the US grading system, although not in the same way. In the UK, an "A" is defined as anything above 70% rather than each letter denoting 10%. Every additional letter results in a 10% reduction. 

Difference between the UK and US grading system

That was our full breakdown of the American grading system. While the US grading system isn’t too hard to understand, adjusting to a new structure can be tough which is why we’ve tried to make your transition as smooth as possible. We hope you’ve found this blog helpful and wish you all the best on your student journey!

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