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What is the university grading system?

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    Sorry if this has been asked before. I was just wondering how degrees are "graded," (for want of a better word). I've heard people say things about Firsts and 2.1s, but what does it mean?
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    Fiest class honours (best)
    2.1 (upper second class honours)
    2.2 (lower second class honours)
    Third class honours
    Pass (without honours- worst)

    Generally a 2.1 is seen as good because it will get you onto almost all, if not all, Masters programmes and top graduate jobs.
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    A first equates to the student having an average of over 70%
    An upper second (2:1) is between 60% and 69%
    A lower second (2:2) is between 50% and 59%
    A third is between 40% and 49%

    Although the third can vary depending on what the university pass mark is. If you had an average of under 40% you would have failed. Hope this helps

    ETS: just seen Kellywood's post. To get an honours degree, you must have the required number of credits.
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    vickytoria is more or less correct with the grade boundries, but some unis use other methods such as lancaster (in some subjects) where you can get a 2:1 overall with 58% average, just so long as you get half your modules in the 2nd and 3rd year with 60%+.

    Also some places do distrubutions i.e. x% of class get 1st (subject to say 66% average).

    its very varied, but in general vickytoria boundries are correct.
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    flexible fish makes a good point about having to achieve certain marks etc.

    My university for instance, in order to get a first class degree overall, over half my 3rd year modules including my dissertation must have a mark of 70+ on them. If the dissertation gets 69 but you still have half the modules at 70+, you will only get a high 2:1
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    How are these percentages obtained? If I take a test and get 70% of the questions correct, does that get me a First?

    I'm just rather confused, as either one or two things seem to be true:

    1) Tests/papers are graded much more harshly than in the US (or have more difficult questions?).
    2) Percentages mean something different in the UK.

    Because a 70% in the US is a terrible grade (a low C).
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    (Original post by sarbruis)
    How are these percentages obtained? If I take a test and get 70% of the questions correct, does that get me a First?
    I can only really answer for essay based subjects. But basically, in order for me to get 70+ on an essay or in an exam, I have to write well enough to fufil the following criteria:

    Content:
    - relevent knowledge & understanding is broad and deep; range of reading implied by the answer is extensive, original and insightful

    - moves between general and particular accounts in highly productive ways; understands the complexities of historical work

    - historiographically highly aware and conceptually astute

    - demonstrates high levels of reflexivity and 'positional' sense

    Structure & focus:
    - work engages analytically with the question set throughout

    - highly organised and coherently structured throughout

    - compelling arguements that are highly reflexive and which are expressed with lucidity and economy of style

    Expression:
    - writing will be lucid, economical and rhetorically persuasive throughout.

    - sophisticated vocabulary with an appropriate register throughout

    - expresses ideas and theories, concepts and categories with clarity and insight


    To get between 60 & 69, this is expected:

    Content:
    - relevent knowledge & understanding is extensive; range of reading implied is wide and generally up to date; some originality and insight

    - able to generalise and particularise in effective ways; is aware of historical complexity

    - historiographically aware; conceptually aware but underdeveloped

    - reflective with some 'positional' sense

    Structure & focus:
    - work gravitates around the question set, but somewhat intermittently

    - well organised and structured for most of the work

    - well argued throughout

    Expression:
    - lucid & economical for much of the essay, intermittently persuasive

    - good vocabulary and appropriate register for most of the essay

    - ideas, theories, concepts and categories expressed with some clarity and insight


    However, what one person sees as a 73 for an essay, someone else may mark it as 64. Once you start hitting marks of high 70s and 80s, you're talking publishable quality. 70 + equates to an A in the UK, 60+ is a B, 50+ is a C (obviously that's a general rule of thumb, universities do vary)

    2) Percentages mean something different in the UK.
    For essays I think they do as demonstrated above, it's not marked on how many valid points & arguements you give; it's the way you write. I don't have a clue how science/maths exams are marked though
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    (Original post by sarbruis)
    How are these percentages obtained? If I take a test and get 70% of the questions correct, does that get me a First?

    I'm just rather confused, as either one or two things seem to be true:

    1) Tests/papers are graded much more harshly than in the US (or have more difficult questions?).
    2) Percentages mean something different in the UK.

    Because a 70% in the US is a terrible grade (a low C).
    sarbruis, I see you are going to Durham - if you follow the link below that will take you to the Durham Faculty Handbook and pages 48-50 will give you the assessment criteria.
    http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/music...20Handbook.pdf

    It is very difficult to get more than 80 in an essay (I'll probably be inundated now with people saying how they got more than 80 - I'm not saying it's impossible, just difficult ) Anything if a piece of work gets a mark of 80 or above it is supposed to be of 'publishable quality'. I have seen a thread elsewhere where an American academic working in this country reckoned that she had to take 15-20 marks off the marks she would have given for comparable work in America. I'm speaking of 'Arts' subjects here - I don't know if it is different for 'Science' subjects.

    PS You'll love Durham.
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    (Original post by krankenhaus)
    Anything if a piece of work gets a mark of 80 or above it is supposed to be of 'publishable quality'.
    That's interesting. I've been told by a tutor that anything worthy of a first, i.e. 70% plus, should be theoretically publishable, albeit with some tweaking. Marks over 80 are virtually unheard of, at least in my department (History at UCL).
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    (Original post by Manatee)
    That's interesting. I've been told by a tutor that anything worthy of a first, i.e. 70% plus, should be theoretically publishable, albeit with some tweaking. Marks over 80 are virtually unheard of, at least in my department (History at UCL).
    Closest I know of in my department was a 77 and a 76 (same person)
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    I'm surprised no-one's linked here yet: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki...lassifications

    In terms of obtaining the 'percentages' - I've done a Natural Sciences degree, where many questions have a 'right' answer, so 100% is - theoretically - obtainable, though in practice no-one gets that. Once 'raw' % marks are found, they're then 'scaled' to fit the 0-40/40-50/50-60/60-70/70+ bands for the classification. The exact scaling method varies each year, depending on the difficulty of the paper, and the perceived standard of the student body.
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    (Original post by Manatee)
    That's interesting. I've been told by a tutor that anything worthy of a first, i.e. 70% plus, should be theoretically publishable, albeit with some tweaking. Marks over 80 are virtually unheard of, at least in my department (History at UCL).
    It is becoming easier now to get 80+, especially in English departments, because tutors are being encouraged to allow their very best students a chance to compete for postgraduate funding, which means allowing the very top marks to be available to them. I tended to get marks in the 80s as an undergrad, but I don't think all my essays were publishable (with the phrase 'theoretically publishable', 'theoretically' is very much the operative word). My university also awarded a couple of 90s - but when it gets to that point, I think the marks get a bit silly and meaningless. Of course, external examiners had to check them, and in some cases they were the ones who raised marks to 90, which means it wasn't just my university who thought such marks should be available.
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    Im between 2nd and 3rd year at uni in Scotland. How does my degree get classed because im unsure and i will probably need to see someone when i get back but its bugging me now.


    If i get a basic degree after my three years, then what is it if i get average in 60%s? Would that be a degree, or a 2:1

    How does it work if i do honours then in 4th year? Does that become 2:1 with honours?

    I also heard for honours your classification comes from only your 3 highest marks. Is this true?

    I would be grateful if anyone can answer my questions.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    It is becoming easier now to get 80+, especially in English departments, because tutors are being encouraged to allow their very best students a chance to compete for postgraduate funding, which means allowing the very top marks to be available to them. I tended to get marks in the 80s as an undergrad, but I don't think all my essays were publishable (with the phrase 'theoretically publishable', 'theoretically' is very much the operative word). My university also awarded a couple of 90s - but when it gets to that point, I think the marks get a bit silly and meaningless. Of course, external examiners had to check them, and in some cases they were the ones who raised marks to 90, which means it wasn't just my university who thought such marks should be available.
    Being encouraged is one thing, though, actually giving those marks is another.:dontknow: As far as I'm aware, my university has never awarded a mark as high as 90 in English finals, and marks of 80+ are very rare and spoken about in hushed tones. It's a bit hard to imagine that changing dramatically anytime soon, even though examiners' reports have repeatedly stressed they should start getting used to the idea...
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    I think it is unfair and annoying that Oxford won't award 90s, but marks in the 80s are awarded, and in my experience the only tutors who speak about that in 'hushed tones' are the ones prone to jealousy, who don't want their students to be doing too well. It just depends on the tutor with a place like Oxford. Some are forward-thinking and fair, others cling to the old days when they could be as stingy as old schoolmasters.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    I think it is unfair and annoying that Oxford won't award 90s, but marks in the 80s are awarded, and in my experience the only tutors who speak about that in 'hushed tones' are the ones prone to jealousy, who don't want their students to be doing too well. It just depends on the tutor with a place like Oxford. Some are forward-thinking and fair, others cling to the old days when they could be as stingy as old schoolmasters.
    Suppose so.:dontknow:
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    Are you told your actual mark for Finals? Can employers ask for it?
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    (Original post by Huw Davies)
    Are you told your actual mark for Finals?
    As far as I know your college will tell you the marks you got for individual papers, like a sort of transcript.

    Can employers ask for it?
    Hmm, no idea, to be honest... I suppose they might, but then again, knowing the exact mark you got for Paper X will hardly be much use to most prospective employers, so why would they ask for it? The academic transcript will probably be more important if you're applying for graduate studies afterwards.
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    (Original post by jockstrap)
    Im between 2nd and 3rd year at uni in Scotland. How does my degree get classed because im unsure and i will probably need to see someone when i get back but its bugging me now.


    If i get a basic degree after my three years, then what is it if i get average in 60%s? Would that be a degree, or a 2:1

    How does it work if i do honours then in 4th year? Does that become 2:1 with honours?

    I also heard for honours your classification comes from only your 3 highest marks. Is this true?

    I would be grateful if anyone can answer my questions.
    Sorry just wanted to bump my post to see if anyone can help me out.
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    (Original post by jockstrap)
    Sorry just wanted to bump my post to see if anyone can help me out.
    Can't help you there, I'm afraid, but if you try the Scottish forum, you're sure to find someone who can.
Updated: June 19, 2012
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