May 21st, 2003

Fishy Circumstances

Comparative Grade Scales

For saffronjan and anyone else who would like to know...

Comparison of Percentage Equivalents
in American, Canadian, and British grading systems
PercentageU.S. CanadaU.K.U.S. 4.0 GPA *
90-100 AA+4.0
80-90 BA3.0
70-80 CB1st class/Distinction2.0
60-70 DC2.i class1.0
50-60FailD2.ii class
40-50E **3rd class
35-39E **Pass
Below 35FailFail

* GPA stands for Grade Point Average. I don't think this system is used in Canada, but I don't actually know. Most institutions use a 4.0 scale, but I've heard of 5.0 scales as well. Mostly it's a quick way to compare grades on a numerical basis. (Although, of course, percentages do that too.)

** The U of T gives Es for near misses. I'm therefore extrapolating that it's used elsewhere in Canada too, but I don't actually know.

Confusion Alert: Just because two grades in two different countries have the same percentage value does NOT mean that they are held to be of equivalent value in their respective countries. For example, a 1st class degree in the UK is equivalent to an A-range average in the US and Canada, regardless of the actual percentages involved.

Note on pluses and minuses: Most of these systems can be further differentiated by pluses and minuses: A-/B+. That kind of thing. But to keep this chart legible, I've left those off for now. Generally, pluses are in the top 3 percentage points of a grade range and minuses are in the bottom 3 percentage points of a grade range. (So a B+ would be 77 percent - 79 in the US system.) The major exception is that 90 percent and above is where A+ falls in the Canadian system.

Note on Graduate Schools and grades: In the UK, as an undergraduate, you generally need II.1 caliber grades to go into graduate school, and need to maintain that level of accomplishment in order to obtain a graduate degree. Similarly, one generally needs a B-range or above grade average to get into graduate school in the US and Canada, regardless of percentages.

Also, it is my impression that it is easier to obtain an A-range average in the US and Canada than it is to finish with a 1st class degree in the UK.