Complete Overview Of The Academic Grading System In United Kingdom

As a new student in the United Kingdom(UK), you may not be aware of the academic grading system used by schools in the UK. The grading system there in the UK is quite different from the rest of the world. For instance all grades higher than 70% are seen as very high grades in the UK, but this is not the case in North America, where only a tiny percentage of students can achieve that.

And you will most likely be tested using assessments on a continuous basis. You will be assessed on your projects, participation in coursework, and examinations, etc. By the time you finish your course, you will have a grade that reflects the achievement you have made overall.

The UK grading System

The United Kingdom has a grading system which is quite different from other countries. This grading system is for all undergraduate and masters degree programs offered in the UK. This system is equally used by many other countries. As you apply for a degree in the UK, always know that you can apply for either a regular or honors degree program. In the UK, the most popular is the honors degree. However, when you are going for a regular degree your target should be to pass the subject you are studying. But is you fail, instead of getting a failing degree, you will not earn that specific degree in the UK grading system.

The honors program is designed to provide students with a degree and specifies an achievement level and area of specialization in the specific subject. As a result of this, you will find that honors degree is a popular choice that will offer an employer the opportunity to gain understanding of your knowledge and competency in that field.

Now let’s look at how the grading system in the UK looks like.

Read also: Study Abroad In Switzerland: Tuition Fees, Cost Of Living and Admission Requirements

First-Class Honors (Honors) – 70% or higher

In many colleges, first class honors result is usually the level that is the highest. Then fewer colleges will award it as Distinction. You will notice that a double first distinction can relate to a First Class Honors in two different areas such as Mathematics and Classics.


Second Class Honors – 50% – 70%

  • Second-Class Honors (Honours) (SCH), Upper 60 to 70%
  • Second-Class Honors (Honours) (SCH), Lower 50 to 59%

Most students will achieve a second class honours result which can be divided into Upper and Lower Second Class. These grades is popularly abbreviated to two-one (2:1) and two-two(2:2).

Third-Class Honors (Honours) – 45% to 49%

Third Class Honors Degree is usually regarded as the lowest of the honors system classification in the most of the modern colleges. The passing rate is 40%-44% and the Failing rate is for any grade received that is 39% or lower.


This is the summary of the total grading system in the United Kingdom:

  • A distinction will be higher than 70%
  • Commendation/Merit will be between 60 and 70%
  • Passing is 50 to 59%
  • Failing is 50% or lower


When compared to the American grading system, the UK uses these averages which are the most common:

  • A – grade of at least 70%
  • B+ / A – 60 to 70%
  • B – 50 to 59%
  • C+ – 45% to 49%
  • C – 40% to 44%
  • Failing – anything below 39%


We are done with the grading system in the UK, lets now look at the academic system looks like in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom Academic System

If you are studying in the Uk, you are going to experience different styles f learning and teaching. First and foremost, you will have to read a broad topic and then carry out a research on that topic thoroughly in order to show an understanding of the ideas you have learned. Then you will have to describe and analyze those things.

You will notice that the UK academic system focuses on learning by yourself or individual learning. This means you have to learn independently and teach yourself most of the times. Therefore, you will be expected to work along for a great deal of time out of the classroom. Other than a syllabus, a professor may give you a reading list of suggestions that will be mandatory for you.


You should research topics and take notes in addition to your work and reading out of the classroom. Always be prepared to discuss this material, particularly if you are in graduate school. Your advisors and your graduate supervisors are going to be available to assist you, but you need to decide on the amount of time you need to invest and plan your studies accordingly. You will be expected to serve in an active role in your own independent education and learning.

As an undergraduate student, there are many chances for you to communicate with other peers and professors during seminars, labs, and tutorials which will promote discussions in a smaller setting. It is important for you to remember that professors will discourage you from visiting outside of their usual work hours. You should talk about the studies with your professors and pose any questions to them about specifics of the course material.


Note that since there’s too much room for deviation in this system, you will see yourself rising to another level or class depending on whether your grades are good enough to take you to the next higher class available. But if you fail to pass all the parts of a given course, regardless of your grade averages, you will go down. In some colleges, situations arise where candidates successfully work on completing more than one year of study for a degree but then decide not to complete that degree. In cases like this, the student will be given a qualification that is lower.


As a student, it is very important that you have full understanding of the grading system in the United Kingdom to avoid misunderstandings, especially when you are comparing UK grades with other countries.

I hope this information was useful. If you find it useful, kindly share it so it gets to other students.

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