US Grading System [What Is the Academic Grading System in the US?] - HowChimp (2023)

The grade is not everything about the student, but using a reliable grading system ensures that students are rated as accurately as possible. What is the US grading system?

The US grading system uses the letter grading system. American schools commonly use the A to F grading scale in grading assignments, tests, and other school works. A is the highest score, while D is a passing grade, and F indicates a failing grade.

Teachers could also give the corresponding percentages to the letter grade, as follows:

  • A (A-, A, A+) – between 90% to 100%
  • B (B-, B, B+) – above-average score between 80% to 89%
  • C (C-, C, C+) – between 70% to 79%
  • D (D-, D, D+) – lowest passing grade between 59% to 69%
  • F – a failing grade

Read on to learn more about the US letter grading system, the Grade Point Average (GPA), and the US university grading system.

US Grading System

US Grading System [What Is the Academic Grading System in the US?] - HowChimp (1)

The US grading system uses the letters A, B, C, D, and F. American schools use this A – F grading scale in grading reports, tests, assignments, and other school works.

The highest score is A+, while the passing grade is D. An F indicates a failing grade. Note that there is no E mark, as E is also a failing mark. E is sometimes mistaken for Excellent, so schools decided to use only F for failing marks instead.

Evaluators could also give the corresponding percentages to the letter grades:

  • A – from 90% to 100%
  • B – above-average score from 80% to 89%
  • C – from 70% to 79%
  • D – lowest passing grade from 59% to 69%
  • F – a failing grade

Your grades could correspond to a quality point in many American universities that evaluators include in your Grade Point Average (GPA). Most schools score the quality point on a 4.0 scale.

What Is the Grade Point Average (GPA)?

The Grade Point Average or The Weighted Grade Point Average is the sum of the quality points divided by your subjects’ course credits or units. Not all schools have the same method of computing the GPA but use the same principle. Generally, the GPA represents the students’ total performance in all their course subjects.

Teachers can quickly compute for grades due to advances in technology. For example, they could create a formula that they can input into excel working sheets. These sheets could compute grades and GPAs automatically as teachers enter the data.

Some countries call the GPA the Grade Weighted Average (GWA) and are computed much the same way.

GPA Does Not Necessarily Show How Smart a Student Is

The GPA does not necessarily show how smart you are because there may be inevitable reasons for your low performance, such as poor health or missed exams and school works.

Teachers usually consider these factors when evaluating students. The concept of multiple intelligences also comes into the equation.

TheUS grading system commonly uses the letters’ grading scale from A to F. But it is expected that American schools give the percentage grades too in grading school works.

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On the letter grading scale, A is the highest score, while D is the passing grade. F is a failing grade and does not earn any credits.

The other letter grade corresponds to the following percentages: A – from 90% to 100%; B – above-average score from 80% to 89%; C – from 70% to 79%; D – lowest passing grade from 59% to 69%’ and F – a failing grade.

How to Calculate GPA?

Below is a simple example. Note that this is only a rough formula that uses the sum of quality points divided by the total course credits. [1]

Using 5-point System

The GPA could also use the 5-point system; where: A = 5 or 4.5 points, B = 4 or 3.5 points, C = 3 or 2.5 points, D for 2 or 1.5 points, and F for 0 points.

Clinical Chemistry (3 course credit or units) = 3.5 quality points = 10.5 (3 x 3.5)

Anatomy (3 course credits or units) = 3 quality points = 9 (3 x 3)

Parasitology (2 course credits or units) = 4 quality points = 8 (4 x 2)

Microbiology (5 course credits or units) = 4 quality points = 20 (4 x 5)

Add all the quality points = 10.5 + 9 + 8 + 20 = 47.5

Divide this by the total course credits/units (47.5/13) = 3.6538 GPA

Using Percentages

Instructors could also use the grade percentages:

Clinical Chemistry (3 course credit or units) = 85% = 255 (85 x 3)

Anatomy (3 course credits or units) = 79% = 237 (79 x 3)

Parasitology (2 course credits or units) = 89% = 178 (89 x 2)

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Microbiology (5 course credits or units) = 89% = 445 (89 x 5)

Add all the grade percentages and divide them by the number of course credits or units

255 + 237 + 178 + 445 = 1115 total

Then, divide the total by the number of course credits (1115/13 credits) = 85.769% GPA

Some schools have unique GPA values. So, if you want to know the details for a particular school, it would be best to inquire directly from the school’s website.

Uses of the GPA

Schools compute the students’ GPA for the following purposes:

  • To compute for Latin honors: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude, with Summa Cum Laude being the highest honors.
  • For school enrolment and evaluation
  • To determine students’ final class ranking
  • Establish students’ academic performance
  • To evaluate students for advanced placement courses.

US Grading System in Public Schools and High Schools

US Grading System [What Is the Academic Grading System in the US?] - HowChimp (2)

Public schools commonly use the grading system as described in the table below. Some schools use an edited version of the college grading system: [2]

Letter GradePercentage (%)GPA
A90 to 1004.0
B80 to 893.0
C70 to 792.0
D60 to 691.0
FLess than 600.0

D is usually the lowest passing grade, and F is a failing grade.


Some teachers in US elementary schools award points when students are friendly or for behaving well. This type of evaluation does not measure the mental aptitude of the student, and many consider it unreliable. Sometimes, teachers give credit from peer review and self-evaluation.

This practice could develop poor study habits because students often depend upon good behavior to get good grades.

Numerical Grading System

Some elementary school districts use the 1,2,3, and 4 rating system. The advantage of this grading system is that teachers can give advanced lessons to students with 3 and 4 ratings while attending specifically to the needs of the 1 & 2-rating students.

Teachers give an “Exemplary” grade to students with 90% to 100 marks and a numeric grade of 4. Students are marked “Accomplished” when they earn an 80% to 89% with a numeric grade of 3.

A numeric grade of 2 is when a student is still “Developing” and earns a percentage grade between 70% to 79%. “Beginning” and “Bad” are used for students with 0% to 69% ratings and a numeric grade of 0.0 to 1.0.

The E, S, N, and U System

Another method used in the U.S. for grading kindergartens, elementary students, and high schools is the E, S, N, and U system. E stands for Excellent, S for Satisfactory, N for Needs Improvement, and U for Unsatisfactory.

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For exemplary performance, some schools use the letter O for Outstanding, which is higher than Excellent. They also used F for Failure and NS for Not satisfactory.

A few high schools use a 3-point scale for below-average-difficulty courses and a 5-point scale for Honors courses. Some AP courses use the 6-point scale grading system.

The high school GPA can serve as a predictor for college academic performances. But, the standardized-based examination is still the best predictor for college grades.

US Grading System in Some Colleges

US colleges also can vary in their grading systems based on the schools’ goals.

Moreover, schools that offer specialized courses (medicine, laboratory scientists) may have higher passing grades than other courses. This grading system is warranted because learned skills must be accurate and precise:

Letter GradePercentageGPA
A+97% to 100%4.00 or 4.33
A93% to 96%4.00
A-90% to 92%3.67
B+87% to 89%3.33
B83% to 86%3.00
B-80% to 82%2.67
C+77% to 79%2.33
C73% to 76%2.00
C-70% to 72%1.67
D+67% to 69%1.33
D63% to 66%1.00
D-60% to 62%0.67
F0% to 59%%0.00

Students’ final grades use a 100%-point scale, wherein all the school activities contribute to the final grade. Moreover, typically, faculty members decide on the weight of each aspect based on the skills they want to focus on.


Chapter quizzes = 20%

Comprehensive final exams = 40%

Daily assignments = 10%

Oral reports = 10%

Practical exams = 20%

For a total of 100%

Colleges consider C or D as the lowest passing grade, but they must earn at least a C grade or higher for students to earn credits in some specialized courses.

Many US law schools consider any mark below C as failing. They also require no more than a 2.0-grade point average to enroll for a doctorate in law. Some law schools require a 2.3 or 2.5-grade point average for post-doctoral degrees.

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Some US Liberal Arts Colleges do not issue grades but instead use narrative evaluations to evaluate their students. [3]

Other Grades/Marks Used in Colleges

  • WP – Withdrawal with a passing grade at the time of withdrawal
  • WF – Withdrawal with a failing grade at the time of withdrawal
  • FN – Failure due to Non-Attendance
  • DW – Disciplinary withdrawal
  • W – Withdrawal
  • UW – Unofficial Withdrawal
  • NR – Not Reported by the instructor
  • X – Audit /Exemption
  • E – Excellent

Standards of Academic Progress (SAP) Requirement

US Grading System [What Is the Academic Grading System in the US?] - HowChimp (3)

Note that students receiving financial aid must fulfill the Standards of Academic Progress (SAP) requirement. SAP generally requires students to earn an average score of 2 using the 4-scale grading system.

If students fail to obtain this grade, SAP will stop the financial assistance, and students have to refund the previous fees SAP paid.

The SAPs of students who receive W marks are not affected as the course credit is not included in the students’ enrolled subjects. So, students must withdraw before the finalization of their enrolment.

However, the course credit of students with WP and WF marks is included in the students’ course credits. Therefore, these marks would affect their academic standing.

SAP could disqualify the student based on the 4-scale grading system for the rest of the grades, except for X and E. [4]

US Standardized-Based Grading System

Presently, many colleges use standards-based education to create examinations that educators, employers, parents, and other stakeholders deem necessary to learn for a particular course. This method would focus more on each professional’s skills and competencies in their particular fields.

The passing grade for the standard test is generally higher than the traditional test. However, it is more objective and reliable as the tests use the same sets of questions for all students. Through this method, students can earn extra credits by doing optional school work.

Conclusion – Academic Grading System in the US

The US grading system uses the letters A – F to grade students. Most American schools grade exams, assignments, and school work using the letter grading scale.

A indicates the highest score, while F means a failing grade. D is the passing grade. Instructors may also give the specific percentages of the letter grades:

  • A – from 90% to 100%
  • B – above-average score from 80% to 89%
  • C – from 70% to 79%
  • D – lowest passing grade from 59% to 69%
  • F – a failing grade

Some US schools use the letter grading system variants by adding “+” and “- “after the letter grades.

Examples are A+, A, A-; B+, B, B-; C+, C, C-; and D+, D, D-. A+ is the highest grade, and F is the failing grade. If you are a foreigner planning to enroll in a US school, you could inquire directly from the school’s website. Moreover, note that school policies for international students may differ slightly from school rules for US citizens.

Again, for your quick reference, below are the tables showing grading systems used in the US:

Elementary and High School

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Letter GradePercentage (%)GPA
A90 to 1004.0
B80 to 893.0
C70 to 792.0
D60 to 691.0
FLess than 600.0


Letter GradePercentageGPA
A+97% to 100%4.00 or 4.33
A93% to 96%4.00
A-90% to 92%3.67
B+87% to 89%3.33
B83% to 86%3.00
B-80% to 82%2.67
C+77% to 79%2.33
C73% to 76%2.00
C-70% to 72%1.67
D+67% to 69%1.33
D63% to 66%1.00
D-60% to 62%0.67
F0% to 59%%0.00

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What is the US grading system? ›

Academic grading in the United States commonly takes on the form of five, six or seven letter grades. Traditionally, the grades are A+, A, A−, B+, B, B−, C+, C, C−, D+, D, D− and F, with A+ being the highest and F being lowest. In some cases, grades can also be numerical.

How is grading done in USA? ›

Types of Grading Systems in USA

Students are awarded letter grades based on their performance in standard examinations, such as A, B, C, and so on. You then have the option of converting the grade into a grade point average. One other form of USA grading system that is used is a numerical one. It goes from 0 to 100.

What grade is a 70% in America? ›

C - this is a grade that rests right in the middle. C is anywhere between 70% and 79% D - this is still a passing grade, and it's between 59% and 69% F - this is a failing grade.

What is the standard grading? ›

Standards-based grading (SBG) is an innovation in education that focuses on learning and helps increase achievement. It is often combined with updated instructional practices and culture to better engage students and foster a positive environment.

How is GPA calculated in USA? ›

Grade-point average is the cumulative average of the grades in all of a student's classes, and is based on a scale of 0 to 4.0. Grade point average is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of credit hours attempted.

What is a 4.0 GPA in USA? ›

Unweighted 4.0 GPA Scale

Essentially, the highest GPA you can earn is a 4.0, which indicates an A average in all of your classes. A 3.0 would indicate a B average, a 2.0 a C average, a 1.0 a D, and a 0.0 an F. This scale does not take the levels of your courses into account.

Is there a 5.0 GPA in USA? ›

Typically, high schools that use weighted GPAs opt for the 0-5 scale that makes 5.0 the highest possible grade. A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points.

How do you do the grading system? ›

Typically, Indian universities employ a 10-point grading system (though some use a 4-point scale). The whole sum of your grades is divided by the total number of credits you have taken to determine your GPA. There will be a number between 0 and 10 as the outcome. Your grade point average is as follows.

What is the grading process? ›

Grading is the “process by which a teacher assesses student learning through classroom tests and assignments, the context in which good teachers establish that process, and the dialogue that surrounds grades and defines their meaning to various audiences” (1).

What is the highest GPA? ›

The unweighted scale is most common, and the highest possible GPA on this scale is a 4.0. The unweighted scale doesn't take the difficulty of a student's classes into account. Weighted scales are also used at many high schools. Typically, they go up to a 5.0.

Is a 64 passing in college? ›

A letter grade of a D is technically considered passing because it not a failure. A D is any percentage between 60-69%, whereas a failure occurs below 60%.

Is a 93 a good grade? ›

Is a 93 a good grade? A - is the highest grade you can receive on an assignment, and it's between 90% and 100% B - is still a pretty good grade! This is an above-average score, between 80% and 89% C - this is a grade that rests right in the middle.

What is the most common grading scale? ›

The most commonly used grading system in the U.S. uses discrete evaluation in the form of letter grades. Many schools use a GPA (grade-point average) system in combination with letter grades. There are also many other systems in place. Some schools use a numerical scale of 100 instead of letter grades.

What is the new grading system at school? ›

The new grading system runs from 9-1, with 1 being the lowest grade and 9 being the highest grade. The new system is designed to allow more differentiation among the higher grades, with grades 4-6 covering what was grades B and C and grades 7-9 covering what was grades A and A*.

How much is a 95% GPA? ›

GPA Scale
Letter GradeGrade PointsNumerical Grade
9 more rows

What is the highest GPA in USA? ›

When you study at a US university, your GPA is on a scale from 0.0 to 4.0, with 4.0 being the highest your GPA can be. GPA is very important in US universities.

How do you calculate your overall GPA? ›

How To Calculate Your Own GPA. To calculate your GPA, divide the total number of grade points earned by the total number of letter graded units undertaken.

What is a 96 GPA on a 5.0 scale? ›

The Weighted GPA Conversion Chart
Letter GradePercentageAP/IB GPA
8 more rows
Jan 23, 2020

What is a 5.0 GPA? ›

It indicates that the student only took coursework with a 5.0-grade point average and received all A's (or A+'s). However, when classes are weighted, perfect straight-A grades can result in a 5.0 instead of the standard 4.0. (or even higher).

What is a 3.5 GPA out of 100? ›

3.5 GPA = 90% percentile grade = A letter grade.

What GPA is required for Harvard? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.

Is a GPA of 3.00 good? ›

Is a 3.0 GPA in high school considered good? A 3.0 GPA indicates a grade average of “B” and makes you eligible to apply to a wide range of schools, so yes! A 3.0 GPA is generally considered “good.”

What GPA is a 100? ›

An A+ letter grade is equivalent to a 4.0 GPA, or Grade Point Average, on a 4.0 GPA scale, and a percentage grade of 97–100.

What is a 7.0 GPA? ›

Your grade point average (GPA) is the average result of all your grades and is calculated on a 7-point grading scale. 7 being the highest (HD), and 0 is the lowest (fail).

How can I get a 6.0 GPA? ›

Take Harder Classes

Those course grades are typically weighted and are usually graded on a five-point scale instead of four points, so if you get a “B, it equates to a 4.0, and an “A” would give you a grade of 5.0. At some schools, honors classes and advanced placement courses would be figured on a 6.0 GPA format.

Is 4.0 the highest GPA? ›

The unweighted GPA scale is the most frequently used GPA scale. Basically, the highest GPA you can earn is a 4.0, which indicates an A average in all of your classes. A 3.0 would mean a B average, a 2.0 a C average, a 1.0 a D, and a 0.0 an F.

What is grading system in simple words? ›

Grading System: The system that a school has developed to guide how teachers assess and grade student work. Reporting System: The system that a school has developed for the organization of assignment scores in gradebooks (either online or paper), and the determination of final grades for report cards and transcripts.

What is a grading structure? ›

A grading structures is a means of creating a structure of jobs in an organisation by reference to an indicator of complexity, market value or business needs. Jobs which have similar attributes are grouped into the same grade.

What is a grading short answer? ›

Automated Short Answer Grading (ASAG) is the task of assessing short answers authored by students by leveraging computational methods. The task of ASAG is investigated for many years, but this task continues to draw attention because of the associated research challenges.

How do I calculate my grade percentage scale? ›

Grade Calculator
  1. Example:
  2. A. Divide the mark given for each small assignment by the possible mark for each small assignment.
  3. B. Add the marks given for each assignment. Then add the possible marks given for each assignment. ...
  4. C. Multiply the decimal by 100 to calculate the percentage.

What is the lowest GPA you can get? ›

The lowest possible grade is usually equal to a 0.0 on any scale and most times correlates to an "F" or the failing grade for the course. The scale coverts linearly from the 0.0 to 4.0 with your grade whether you are on a number or letter grading system for the class.

Does a 5.0 GPA exist? ›

A 5.0 generally indicates that a student took only 5.0-scale classes and earned only A's (and/or A+'s). Normally, all perfect straight-A grades result in a 4.0; with weighted classes, though, perfect straight-A grades could result in a 5.0 (or even higher).

Is a 3.9 GPA good in college? ›

So, strictly speaking, a 3.9 GPA is just a tenth shy of a perfect score and demonstrates academic excellence in every class. A 3.9 GPA far exceeds the average GPA that most colleges use as their unspoken baseline for competitive admission (3.0) as well as the benchmark GPA for more selective colleges (3.5).

Is a B failing in grad school? ›

At most graduate-level institutions, a "B" or higher GPA means the student is in academic good standing.

Is C a failing grade? ›

A grade of C or better is required to earn a Passed; a C- or below will earn a Not Passed grade. A grade of C- may satisfy many requirements (e.g., General Education, elective) but a Not Passed grade will not earn any credit or satisfy requirements.

Is D considered failing? ›

At most schools, a D is the lowest passing grade. That means students who earn a D or higher receive credit for the course. However, some schools set special policies around D grades. For example, at Lehigh, a D counts as a passing grade but does not meet prerequisite requirements.

Is a 3.8 GPA good in college? ›

A 3.8 GPA, or Grade Point Average, is equivalent to an A- letter grade on a 4.0 GPA scale. This means is equivalent to a 90-92%. The national average GPA is 3.0 which means a 3.8 is far above average. Because a 3.8 is already so high it can be hard to raise, but with hard work and dedication it is possible!

What is a 4.0 vs 5.0 GPA scale? ›

The traditional unweighted GPA scale ranges from 0 to 4.0, while the weighted scale spans from 0 to 5.0. Schools that use a weighted scale assign more points to honors and AP classes. For example, students who earn an A in AP Calculus would receive a 5.0 on a weighted scale and only a 4.0 on an unweighted scale.

Is a 3.8 GPA good in graduate school? ›

Most grad schools would require a minimum GPA of 3.0, but lower-ranked universities might accept students with 2.5+ GPAs as well. On the other end, elite colleges such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have high GPA expectations (3.5+ minimum, with average GPAs often as high as 3.8).

Is the UK grading system the same as in the US? ›

Like the US grading system, the UK also uses letter grades, but not in the same way. Rather than each letter representing 10%, an “A” is anything above 70% in the UK. Every letter that comes after means a decrease of 10%. Another change is there are no GPAs in the UK like 4.0s.

Is 70% an A grade? ›

The reasons underneath this confusion have to do with students getting used with their native grading system.
The UK Grading System and The US Grading System.
Degree ClassPercentage ScoreUS Grade
First-Class Degree70% -100%A
Upper Second-Class Degree60% – 69%A- / B+
3 more rows

Is 60% an A grade? ›

If your TA reported a grade of C+ you would therefore get 67.5%, because this is the middle of the percentage range allocated for the C+ category.
Letter GradePercentage RangeMid-Range
B+75% to 79%77.5%
B70% to 74%72.5%
C+65% to 69%67.5%
C60% to 64%62.5%
6 more rows

What grade is 60% in USA? ›

Grade Scale
PercentageLetter Grade
9 more rows

How do you convert British grades to American grades? ›

Converting British grades into American grades
  1. +70% = A.
  2. 60-69% = B.
  3. 50-59% = C.
  4. 40-49% = D.
  5. Below 40% = F (fail)
Jan 10, 2022

Do British schools have GPA? ›

There's no set standard, but according to Fullbright US UK Commission, here's the comparable scale to convert UK grades to a 4.0 GPA scale. The percentage range for each class varies from institution to institution. Individual modules on the transcript carry only the percentage mark.

What are grades in America compared to England? ›

Year / Grade Placement
AgeUK YearsUS/International Grades
12 - 13Year 87th Grade
13 - 14Year 98th Grade
14 - 15Year 109th Grade (Freshman)
15 - 16Year 1110th Grade (Sophomore)
10 more rows

What grade scale is out of 100? ›

Common examples of grade conversion are: A+ (97–100), A (93–96), A- (90–92), B+ (87–89), B (83–86), B- (80–82), C+ (77–79), C (73–76), C- (70–72), D+ (67–69), D (65–66), D- (below 65).

Is 60 a good grade at university? ›

When you start at university, any mark over 50% is a great grade. Getting a mark over 50% means that you are beginning to understand the difficult work of your degree. Getting over 60% is excellent because it means you have demonstrated a deep knowledge of your subject to the marker.

What grade is a fail at A level? ›

A pass in an AS subject is indicated by one of five grades A(a), B(b), C(c), D(d), E(e), of which grade A(a) is the highest and grade E (e) is the lowest. grade N indicates that the student's performance fell short of the standard required for grade E (e) by a narrow margin.

What is a 77 in letter grade? ›

Common examples of grade conversion are: A+ (97–100), A (93–96), A- (90–92), B+ (87–89), B (83–86), B- (80–82), C+ (77–79), C (73–76), C- (70–72), D+ (67–69), D (65–66), D- (below 65).

Is 60% an A or B? ›

A 1st = A (70%+) A 2:1 = B (60%-70%) A 2:2 = C (50%-60%) A 3rd = D (45%-50%)

What is a 102 GPA on a 4.0 scale? ›

1. Compare your individual grades to a 4.0 scale.
7 more rows
Nov 15, 2020

What grade is a 75 out of 100? ›

For the USA grading system, a value of 75.00% corresponds to the letter mark C.


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