How Does Grading System Works in UK Colleges?

If a student is willing to pursue their future education in the United Kingdom it’s very important to understand the grading system that works in the UK. This is because it has a different grading system than the other countries.

Quick Takeaways

  • The grading system of the UK is different for each of the qualifications taken. 
  • Depending upon the qualification you will be getting the grades on the basis of A*- F or 9-1 grading systems.
  • Your grading system will be different for GCSE, A-levels, and Undergrading systems.

However, you must read till the end so that you do not miss any important facts about how the grading system work in UK colleges.

How Does Grading System Works in UK Colleges?

What are the different stages of education in the UK?

The UK has a unique grading system as compared to other countries. the UK grading system basically depends on the education system which is divided into four stages:

  1. Primary Education:
AgeSchool year
5-6Year 1
6-7Year 2
7-8Year 3
8-9Year 4
9-10Year 5
10-11Year 6*
How Does Grading System Works in UK Colleges?
  1. Secondary Education:
AgeSchool year
11-12Year 7
12-13Year 8
13-14Year 9
14-15Year 10
15-16Year 11*
  1. Further Studies:
ageSchool year
16-17Year 12
17-18Year 13*
  1.  Higher Education:
Ordinary bachelor’s degree3 years
Bachelor’s degree in honors3 years 
Bachelor’s degree in medicine, veterinary, and architecture5 years

In the United Kingdom, it is compulsory for all children from the age group of 5 to 16 to acquire an education.

Grading system in the UK

In the United Kingdom, there are three types of grading systems that have been used by their education system. The three types are

  1. GCSE grading System
  2. A level grading System
  3. Undergraduate grading system 
How Does Grading System Works in UK Colleges?

1. GCSE grading System

GCSE stands for general certificate of Secondary Education. It is basically a qualification taken by UK students in England, Wales, and the North Island at the end of Secondary Education. This course generally takes 2 years and the final exam is taken by the students at the age of 16. The GCSE grading system has recently implemented some changes in this system. The changes include a 9-1 great system in which grading will be done between 9-1. 9 is considered the highest grade whereas 1 is the lowest grade.

The above changes have only been implemented in England, not in Wales and Northern Ireland. In Wales and North Island students are graded by letter grading system from A* to G, which means A* is the highest grade obtained by the student and G is the lowest grade obtained by the student whereas U is considered an ungraded student. The below table shows the grades given in three different countries.

EnglandNorth IrelandWales

Grading System in the UK A-Level

This type of grading system is applicable for higher education qualifications. The age group of the students must be above 16 years. This type of grading system is considered for the final 2 years of High school. The final exams are taken at the end of 2 years of classroom this grading system, students are scared or graded from A to E level.

A grade is considered the highest grade obtained by the student whereas an E grade is considered the lowest one obtained by the student and if the student misses the exams, he will be marked as U, which means an unclassified grade. Further, you must also remember that your professors can change your grades even after the semester is over. The below table shows the grade and the percentage given:

How Does Grading System Works in UK Colleges?

Grading system in UK undergraduate degree

In the UK there are two types of undergraduate degrees:

  1. Ordinary degree 
  2. Honors degree

Ordinary degree

The ordinary degree includes regular undergraduate degrees. The most common examples are Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of art which come under ordinary degrees. If a student enrolls in an ordinary degree he should pass all the subjects to achieve a degree. If the student fails in any subject he/she will not get a degree.

Honors degree

The honors degree is considered the highest standard degree than an ordinary degree. The most common examples are BBA Honors or BA honors. The honors degree, not only specifies your percentage but also the performance level of the student. The below table shows the marks and degree classification.

MarksDegree classification
Honors degreeOrdinary degree
70% and aboveFirst class honorsDistinction
60-69%Upper second-class honorsMerit
50-59%Lower second-class honorsPass
40-49%Third-class honorsPass

The UK grading system VS the US grading system

The UK and the US both are the most popular student designation for international students to pursue their higher education so below is the table of a comparison of the grading system of both different nations. The below table shows the difference between them.

UK gradingcol spanUS grading
Percentage Honors degreeOrdinary degreeGrade
80 and above%First class honorsDistinctionA+
70-79%First class honorsDistinctionA
65-69%Upper second-class honorsMeritA-
60-64%Upper second-class honorsMeritB+
55-59%Lower second-class honorsPassB
50-54%Lower second-class honorsPassC+
46-49%3rd class honorsPassC
43-45%3rd class honorsPassC
40-42%3rd class honorsPassC-


In the UK, education is compulsory for students aged from 5 to 16 years. The grading system in the UK has been explained above. It is different for each of the qualifications depending upon the area you are taking the exams.


Is a 70 grade considered good in the UK?

It is rare for the student to receive a grade above 80% but still, a grade above 60% is considered to be a good grade. Remember if you want to get a good score, you must not give up or do other related things during exam time.

What is a 2.7 GPA in the UK?

In the UK the GPA is considered 70% = 4.0., 60-69% = 3.3-3.9, 50-59% = 2.7-3.2., and 40-49% = 2.0-2.6.

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