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.

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)

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.

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.

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

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 grading system in United States of America? ›

In the United States, academic grading 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.

What is the grading system in USA passing grade? ›

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 grade is 75% in USA? ›

Grade Scale
A+= / >100%
B+= / >85%
B= / >80%
B-= / >75%
C+= / >70%
10 more rows

What is 80% American grading system? ›

PercentLetter Grade
83 - 86B
80 - 82B-
77 - 79C+
73 - 76C
8 more rows

What is 70% as a grade USA? ›

Grade Scale
PercentageLetter Grade
9 more rows

What is first class in US grading system? ›

Grading system in the US (Grade conversion)
PercentageGradeGrade Description
90 - 100%AExcellent
80 - 89%BVery Good
70 - 79%CImprovement Needed
60 - 69%DClose Fail
1 more row
Mar 30, 2023

Is 60% passing in the US? ›

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 an A? ›

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 93–96.

What percent is a B+? ›

Grading Scale
11 more rows

How old is a 12th grader? ›

Students in twelfth grade are usually 17–18 years old.

What grade is 18 years old? ›

How Old Are You in Each School Grade?
School StageGrade LevelStudent Age
High School9th Grade (Freshman)14 - 15 years old
High School10th Grade (Sophomore)15 - 16 years old
High School11th Grade (Junior)16 - 17 years old
High School12th Grade (Senior)17 - 18 years old
10 more rows

What grade is 14 years old? ›

Grade 9

What is the highest GPA? ›

The unweighted GPA scale goes up to a 4.0 and doesn't take class difficulty into account. A weighted GPA scale typically goes up to a 5.0 and does consider the difficulty of a student's classes. It is important that student's know which GPA scale their school uses and how it effects them.

Is GPA on a 5.0 scale? ›

Typically, high schools that employ weighted GPAs use a 0–5 scale, with 5.0 being the best score available. Although a GPA above 5.0 is uncommon, schools occasionally design their point systems so that students enrolled in difficult courses might accrue extra points.

What is a good GPA in university? ›

Like high school, a good college GPA is generally 3.7 or above, and ideally higher in your major classes. Graduate schools in particular tend to weight GPAs more heavily than test scores.

Is a 64 passing in college? ›

You'll usually need to receive a letter grade between A and D to pass a class, often the numerical equivalent of 65 percent or higher. Receiving an F—which stands for “fail”—indicates that you did not pass the class. The cutoff to receive an F is usually 64 percent.

What grade would a 16 year old be in Korea? ›

School grades
Level/gradeTypical age
9th grade14-15 (16)
High school
10th grade15-16 (17)
11th grade16-17 (18)
16 more rows

Why is there no e grade? ›

In the 1930s, as the letter-based grading system grew more and more popular, many schools began omitting E in fear that students and parents may misinterpret it as standing for “excellent.” Thus resulting in the A, B, C, D, and F grading system.

What does F mean in grades? ›

The following definitions will be used as a guide for the assignment of All Courses grades. F – Failed, Unacceptable Level of Achievement.

What is a failing grade in the US? ›

Criterion-Referenced Grading Systems
A (Excellent)= 95-10090-100
B (Good)= 85-9580-90
C (Fair)= 75-8570-80
D (Poor)= 65-7560-70
F (Failure)= -65-60

Is a 64 passing in New York? ›

Students must normally score 65 or higher to pass a Regents exam.

What happens if you repeat a grade in high school? ›

Repeating a grade usually means that your graduation is set back by an entire year. This may also mean not being able to participate in a ceremony with friends that are the same age as you. Increases likelihood of dropping out.

Is a B+ good in college? ›

A+, A, A- indicates excellent performance. B+, B, B- indicates good performance. C+, C, C- indicates satisfactory performance. D+, D, D- indicates less than satisfactory performance.

Is a 96 an A or A+? ›

To convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale:
Letter GradePercent Grade4.0 Scale
8 more rows

Is a 94 an A or A+? ›

GPA Scale
Letter GradeGrade PointsNumerical Grade
9 more rows

Is 92% an A or an A? ›

What grade is 92%? A 92 percent grade is a A- letter grade. A letter grade A- means excellent performance in a class or on a test. Any percentage score in the 90-92.9 range is an A- on the grade scale table.

What's a decent GPA? ›

Usually, a GPA of 3.0 - 3.5 is considered good enough at many high schools, colleges, and universities. Top academic institutions usually require GPAs higher than 3.5.

What is a 100% grade? ›

Calculating Your GPA
PercentageLetter GradeGrade Points
94 – 100 PercentA4.0
90 – 93.9 PercentA-3.7
87 – 89.9 PercentB+3.3
84 – 86.9 PercentB3.0
8 more rows

What is a C+ in GPA? ›

How to Calculate Your GPA
8 more rows

How old is a 9th grader? ›

In the United States and Canada, ninth grade is often the first school year of high school, and sometimes the last year of middle/junior high school. In other countries, high school starts in lower grades. Students in ninth grade are usually 14–15 years old.

Is it OK to graduate at 19? ›

Is it normal to graduate high school on your 19th birthday? No, that's very unusual. Assuming most students graduate at 18 or 19, the odds of graduating exactly on your birthday are something like 1:630, or 1:631 if either is a leap year. However, it's certainly not a bad thing.

What grade is a 5 year old in? ›

Children begin elementary school with kindergarten (grade K) around age 5. The next year is grade 1 and it goes up each year to grade 5. They finish elementary school around age 10.

What age is middle school in Japan? ›

School levels
AgeGradeEducational establishments
12-131 (7th)Junior high school/Lower secondary school (中学校 chūgakkō) Compulsory Education
13-142 (8th)
14-153 (9th)
15-161 (10th)Senior high school/Upper secondary school (高等学校 kōtōgakkō, abbr. 高校 kōkō)
17 more rows

What grade is 18 years old in Japan? ›

4. High School (16 – 18 years old) High schools in Japan provide a three-year education for students which starts when they are 16 years old and lasts until the age of 18. One of the biggest differences between junior high school and high school is whether taking an entrance exam is required or not.

How old are 1st graders? ›

Children registering for 1st grade must turn 6 years old on or before September 1st.

How old is 6th grade in Japan? ›

Comparison between the Age and Grade Structures in Japan and other countries
10-11​ELMN 5Grade 5
11-12​ELMN 6Grade 6
12-13JHS 1Grade 7
13-14JHS 2Grade 8
12 more rows
Jan 25, 2022

How old is a 8th grader? ›

Eighth grade (also 8th Grade or Grade 8) is the eighth year of formal or compulsory education in the United States of America. The eighth grade is second, third, or fourth (and typically final) year of middle school. Students in eighth grade are usually 13-14 years old.

How old are 3rd graders? ›

Third grade (also 3rd Grade or Grade 3) is the third year of formal or compulsory education. It is the third year of primary school. Children in third grade are usually 8-9 years old.

How do you get a 10.0 GPA? ›

To earn a perfect GPA on the weighted scale, a student must take all Advanced Placement or Dual Enrolled courses and earn an A+ in every class.

Can you get a 6.0 GPA? ›

Not All GPAs are Created Equal

There is wide variability in the scale used to calculate GPA. GPAs can be based on a 4.0, 5.0 or 6.0 scale. Also, there are different weights applied to grades used in calculating a GPA. Some schools give plus/minus grades and some do not.

What is a 7.0 GPA? ›

The maximum GPA any student can achieve is a 7. For example, if a student has completed 4 units in one degree, with two passes (4), one fail (0), and one distinction (6), their GPA would be: 4 + 4 + 0 + 6 = 14. They would then divide the 14 by the 4 units they studied, which would give the student a 3.5 GPA.

What GPA does Harvard accept? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

What GPA do you need to get into Harvard? ›

The average high school GPA of admitted students at Harvard is around 4.2. 73% of students had a GPA of at least 4.0, indicating that admitted students typically mostly earned A grades in high school. If you're studying the IB, this translates to scoring mostly 7s and achieving a minimum score of at least 42.

What GPA do you need to get into Yale? ›

Yale GPA Requirements

Last year, the reported average high school GPA of an admitted student at Yale was a 4.19 out of 4.0, what we call a “weighted” GPA. However, unweighted GPAs are not very useful, because high schools weight GPAs differently. In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Yale.

What is a good GPA for Phd? ›

With GPA, it is recommended that students have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and around a 3.5 discipline-specific GPA to remain competitive for Ph. D.

What is a good master's GPA? ›

Typically, a 3.4 is a pretty good GPA for masters program admission. It's not a guarantee that you'll get into your program of choice, but it's often enough to qualify for sending in an application. Some fields of study are more competitive than others, though.

What is a good GPA for Ivy League? ›

However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0. If you're aiming for a top university such as one in the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, or others of the same caliber, a 4.0 GPA — or close to it — is expected.

What grade would a 17 year old be in America? ›

Year / Grade Placement
AgeUK YearsUS/International Grades
14 - 15Year 109th Grade (Freshman)
15 - 16Year 1110th Grade (Sophomore)
16 - 17Year 12 / Lower 6th11th Grade (Junior)
17 - 18Year 13 / Upper 6th12th Grade (Senior)
10 more rows

Is A 3.5 A Good GPA? ›

Is a 3.5 GPA Good? As a top-letter grade, a B+ or A- is considered "good." A 3.5 GPA means that a student consistently performs well on homework, tests, and projects in every subject, making it a desirable GPA across the board.

How old is a 12th grader in us? ›

17 years old

Can you be 19 in the 12th grade? ›

The twelfth grade is the twelfth school year after kindergarten. It is also the last year of compulsory secondary education, or high school. Students are often 17–18 years old, and on rarer occasions, can be 19 years old.

What grade is 13 years old in Korea? ›

School grades
Level/gradeTypical age
Middle school
7th grade12-13 (14)
8th grade13-14 (15)
9th grade14-15 (16)
16 more rows

Is a 96 an A+? ›

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).

What is a 5.0 GPA? ›

How to calculate GPA on 5.0 Scale?
GradePointPercentage range
8 more rows
Apr 4, 2022

What GPA do you need for a Phd? ›

With GPA, it is recommended that students have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and around a 3.5 discipline-specific GPA to remain competitive for Ph. D.


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