Understanding the UK Grading System

6 minute read
UK Grading System

Grades are vital for the assessment of the performance of a student. Whether applying for admission to a university for various courses or appearing for competitive exams, grades are included in the selection criteria. The countries have different grading systems to evaluate the performance of the students. International students need to understand the grading system of the host country before proceeding with their application process. The UK is a leading study-abroad destination, hosting thousands of students every year. Home to prestigious institutions like Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, the UK has one of the best education systems in the world. Fine Arts courses and MBA in the UK are most pursued after degrees. The country has a unique grading system. In this blog, we will understand the UK grading system.

Also read: Study in UK

Must Read: Study in UK 2023: Cost, Requirements, Scholarships, Visa

UK Grading System: Higher Education

Higher education or school leaving qualification in the United Kingdom is commonly referred to as Advanced level or A-level qualification. This is a frequent qualification in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

  • The majority of UK universities accept A-levels to identify prospective candidates for admission.
  • The passing mark for Advanced level qualification is 40%. The letter grades range from A to E.
  • The A grades are often awarded to students who achieve at least 80% in all six subjects or 90% in two of them.
Grade LetterPercentageGrade Descriptions

UK Grading System: UG Degree

The UK Education System follows a unique grading pattern that varies for the constituent countries. The grading system for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are similar, while the Scottish grading system is different. The grading scheme has various elements which include highlights of your academic strengths and specific skills which prove to be beneficial while looking for a job as employers get a clear idea of your overall performance.

Let us understand the UK grading system in detail with the help of the table given below: 

GradePercentage Grade DefinitionHonours DegreeFoundation Degree
A70% – 100%Excellent to OutstandingFirstDistinction
B60% – 69%Good to Very GoodUpper Second 2:1Merit
C50% – 59%SatisfyingLower Second 2:2Pass
D40% – 49%SufficientThird 3Pass
E30% – 39%UnsatisfactoryFailFail
F0 – 29%UnsatisfactoryFailFail

Also Read: Study in UK for Indian Students after 12th

UK Grading Degrees

The UK Grading system awards students degrees on the basis of grades, but the overall performance of a candidate is evaluated on various parameters which include participation in extracurricular activities. Based on the grades, the degrees are divided into three categories which are discussed below:

First Class Degree

While pursuing an option to study in the UK, you should aim for a 1st class degree. Considered as the highest academic achievement at the undergraduate level in the colleges in England or other constituent countries of the UK. To be awarded the first-class degree, your academic score should be equal to or above 70% or simply having a Grade – A in the UK grading system qualifies you for a first-class degree. If you emerge to be among the toppers in a UK university, you are likely to get a high-paying job and your chances of getting scholarships for higher education are enhanced.  

Also Read: Scholarships for Indian Students to Study in UK

Second Class Degree

The candidates scoring between the band of 50-69% are awarded the 2nd class degree. It is divided into two categories: upper second-class degree which is labelled as 2:1 and lower second-class degree, also known as 2:2. Though a first-class degree guarantees higher employability and vast career opportunities, having a second-class degree in the UK grading system doesn’t mean that you lag behind. Instead, it suggests that you have performed well in your academics but there is room for improvement. An Upper-second-class degree or 60% – 69% is a minimum requirement if you want to pursue a master’s program like MS in the UK

Third Class Degree

The 3rd class degree should be your last option while pursuing education in the UK. It is the lowest academic qualification at the undergraduate level. The percentile for the degree ranges from 40% and 49%. The prospects of finding a good job or chances to get admission in top universities with a third-class degree are very low, however, if it is from a reputed institution, your chances increase. The proportion of lower-class degree holders in the UK is very less which means if you are studying in a good institute, you are likely to get good grades as the curriculum in the universities in the UK is designed to rigorously prepare students for exams. 


Students who do not meet the minimum requirements to pass their degree course receive a failing grade. This means they have not exhibited a high enough level of academic competence or earned the required grades to acquire a degree. Depending on the school and the field of study, the particular conditions for a failing grade may differ. In most circumstances, a failing grade means that the student must retake part or all of their examinations in order to pass the course and get a degree certificate.

While obtaining a failing mark might be discouraging and difficult, it is critical to realise that it does not always reflect a student’s potential or future achievement. Many students who fail their degree at first are able to learn from their mistakes, repeat their exams, and eventually obtain their degree certificate.

Also Read: Cost of Studying in the UK for Indian Students

UK Grading System: PG Degree

Except for the integrated master’s, almost every Master’s degree in the UK uses a distinct grading scale. The following is a breakdown of the UK Master’s grading system:

Grade DescriptionsPercentage
Distinction70% or above
Merit or Commendation60 – 69%
Pass50 – 59%
Passed on Borderline40 – 49%

Assessment Criteria

Students at UK universities are evaluated using a variety of approaches, including:

  • Exams designed to measure a student’s knowledge and comprehension of a subject
  • Essays, reports, projects, presentations, and lab reports are examples of written or practical coursework.
  • Oral exams examine students’ abilities to effectively explain their thoughts.
  • Assessments of a student’s ability to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations.
  • Portfolios, which are most typically found in art or fashion programmes, aggregate a student’s work throughout their course.
  • Dissertations are significant research undertakings completed by students in their last year of school.

Must Read: What are the Requirements to Study in the UK?

The UK Grading System vs The US Grading System

Another popular type of grading system is the US grading system. Tabulated below is a comparison between the two systems. 

Degree ClassPercentage ScoreUS Grade
First-Class Degree70% -100%A
Upper Second-Class Degree60% – 69%A- / B+
Lower Second-Class Degree50% -59%B / B-
Third Class Degree40% -49%C+ / C /C-

The UK Grading System vs ETCS grades

Another common grading system used in Europe is the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ETCS). This system is used to facilitate the process of converting grades from a local grading system to another one. Represented in the table below are the final grades in the UK and their corresponding equivalent in the ECTS system.

Degree ClassPercentage ScoreETCS Grade
First-Class Degree70% -100%A
Upper Second-Class Degree60% – 69%B
Lower Second-Class Degree50% -59%C
Third Class Degree40% -49%D

GCSE Grading

The new General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) grading system has been issued in England for students. It has a 9 to 1 grading scale which helps in differentiating between the highest performing students and distinguishing clearly between the old and new qualifications.

Source: Department of Education


Learning the local grading systems at the university where you want to apply and in the country where you want to study can be incredibly beneficial. If for no other reason, it is critical to understand how to convert your grades and compare them to the university’s standards. Please keep in mind that, while these classifications are pretty consistent, they do vary based on the course and the university. So, please inquire about how your university calculates master’s degree grades. If you wish to study in the UK but are unsure about the grading system at the university of your choice, get professional advice but do not take chances.


Q1. Is 70% an A in the UK?

Ans. In percentage terms, 70% is equivalent to an A or First-class degree in the United Kingdom.

Q2. What is the UK grading scale?

Ans. The grading system in the UK Higher Education is as follows:

A- 70% – 100% (Distinction)
B- 60% – 69% (Merit)
C- 50% – 59% (Pass)
D- 40% – 49%

Q3. What grade is 75% UK?

Ans. 75% is grade A+ in the UK

By now you should have a clear understanding of the UK grading system. If you are aspiring to study in the UK, then Leverage Edu can be your companion. Our experts will provide you with the best counselling and help you with the admission process to ensure that you land in your dream institution.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *