789XYZ
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So basically as a past GCSE and A-level student I got used to identify academic excellence as A* or A so >90% or >80% respectively, and a pass as a C >60%, recently I have also noticed that US universities among others seem to have similar or 'harder' GPA equivalences (in terms of percentage boundaries) .
However at the UK universities a pass seems to be just about >40% and excellence (first class) >70%, furthermore I have noticed that for the degree I am doing (at a UK university), physics, seems to have statistics of something comparable to a third of graduates achieving a first (pretty high).
So my question is: why does the UK university grading scale look comparatively 'easier', and how does it actually compare to those that look 'harder'?
Thanks for your time.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
So basically as a past GCSE and A-level student I got used to identify academic excellence as A* or A so >90% or >80% respectively, and a pass as a C >60%
An E is a passing grade at GCSE and A-level. Although a C is a "good" pass.
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789XYZ
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(Original post by VirgoStrain)
The scale’s easiness depends on how academically able you are. On the GCSE A*-G around 30% of candidates failed I.e. got below a C. Only 5-10% get an A-A*. And these percentages stay fixed - so if a year does poorly the boundaries will be lowered to allow the same proportion of people to reach each grade. Also, there are multiple exam boards - boundaries and difficulty may vary with each one. Boards that aren’t taken as often may have higher boundaries or difficulty.
Thank you for your reply.
It looks like what you describe for GCSE is a bit like 'grading on a curve', however I am interested in knowing how different university grading scales compare to each other which I understand don't normally include this method, which may explain to some extent the GCSE vs university grading scale differences, but not that between universities.
Also, when evaluating differences between university 'hardness' in grading, I am assuming the academic ability of the student to be kept constant, and practically everything else which is not directly relevant to the grading system so that we can make an approximate general comparison.
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789XYZ
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
An E is a passing grade at GCSE and A-level. Although a C is a "good" pass.
Thank you for the reply.
Perhaps I should have been more clear, by pass I meant something more like 'satisfactory'.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
Also, when evaluating differences between university 'hardness' in grading, I am assuming the academic ability of the student to be kept constant, and practically everything else which is not directly relevant to the grading system so that we can make an approximate general comparison.
It's generally assumed that a 2:1 from British university X is comparable to a 2:1 from British university Y.

But what do you mean by your last sentence? Students are only marked on their academic ability.

(Original post by 789XYZ)
Thank you for the reply.
Perhaps I should have been more clear, by pass I meant something more like 'satisfactory'.
I think I've answered that. A "pass" *is* satisfactory. A "good pass" is better than satisfactory, it's "good" . So at university 40% is a pass, same as at GCSE.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
So basically as a past GCSE and A-level student I got used to identify academic excellence as A* or A so >90% or >80% respectively, and a pass as a C >60%, recently I have also noticed that US universities among others seem to have similar or 'harder' GPA equivalences (in terms of percentage boundaries) .
However at the UK universities a pass seems to be just about >40% and excellence (first class) >70%, furthermore I have noticed that for the degree I am doing (at a UK university), physics, seems to have statistics of something comparable to a third of graduates achieving a first (pretty high).
So my question is: why does the UK university grading scale look comparatively 'easier', and how does it actually compare to those that look 'harder'?
Thanks for your time.
The question really is, what % of US physicists are awarded "summa *** laude" - I think that's equivalent to a UK First.
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789XYZ
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
It's generally assumed that a 2:1 from British university X is comparable to a 2:1 from British university Y.

But what do you mean by your last sentence? Students are only marked on their academic ability.



I think I've answered that. A "pass" *is* satisfactory. A "good pass" is better than satisfactory, it's "good" . So at university 40% is a pass, same as at GCSE.
My question assumes your first statement, as I seek to compare UK university grading scales with others i.e. non-UK, for example how is a 2:1 in terms of GPA?
The percentages necessary to achieve maximum or failing grades seems notably different for these two systems.
Regarding the passing-satisfactory issue, it looks like I have still been misleading in my terminology, I don't think any of my past teachers would normally call something less than a C 'satisfactory', but I appreciate that there may be a discrepancy between 'personal' and 'technical' terminology here. Also I only intended to talk about GCSE system as a vague framework of understanding to introduce my background, so we could discuss the 'real' issue of how university grading systems compare each other.
Although even if its is not so clear with the 'passing' grade, there still seems to be a discrepancy with the 'excellence' grade boundaries.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
My question assumes your first statement, as I seek to compare UK university grading scales with others i.e. non-UK, for example how is a 2:1 in terms of GPA?
The percentages necessary to achieve maximum or failing grades seems notably different for these two systems.
Regarding the passing-satisfactory issue, it looks like I have still been misleading in my terminology, I don't think any of my past teachers would normally call something less than a C 'satisfactory', but I appreciate that there may be a discrepancy between 'personal' and 'technical' terminology here. Also I only intended to talk about GCSE system as a vague framework of understanding to introduce my background, so we could discuss the 'real' issue of how university grading systems compare each other.
Although even if its is not so clear with the 'passing' grade, there still seems to be a discrepancy with the 'excellence' grade boundaries.
A British 2:1 is generally equivalent to a US GPA 3.3+

http://www.fulbright.org.uk/going-to...ssion-criteria
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789XYZ
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
The question really is, what % of US physicists are awarded "summa *** laude" - I think that's equivalent to a UK First.
OK, I guess that would certainly be useful to know for the sake of this question, but perhaps more generally (as I mentioned in my past reply) it would be ideal, say, for UK vs US something like first=x GPA, 2:1=y GPA,...=(lowest) GPA or something equivalent like percentages.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
OK, I guess that would certainly be useful to know for the sake of this question, but perhaps more generally (as I mentioned in my past reply) it would be ideal, say, for UK vs US something like first=x GPA, 2:1=y GPA,...=(lowest) GPA or something equivalent like percentages.
Answered above
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
A British 2:1 is generally equivalent to a US GPA 3.3+

http://www.fulbright.org.uk/going-to...ssion-criteria
Thanks again, this is really helpful.
I still can't help to find it strange that both systems have such different percentage boundaries, it seems to suggest that the UK system should be in some sense harder to account for lower percentage values being equivalent, a bit like with the pound and the dollar.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
Thanks again, this is really helpful.
I still can't help to find it strange that both systems have such different percentage boundaries, it seems to suggest that the UK system should be in some sense harder to account for lower percentage values being equivalent, a bit like with the pound and the dollar.
Yes, it's extremely hard to get 90% overall in a UK degree
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GovernmentEarner
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The UK grading scale is now very hard.

I was very seriously considering US universities to apply to this year (didn’t in the end) and in doing so I spoke to a lot of admissions tutors. One from Yale said to me that because I got A*A*A* in my A Levels that this would technically be ‘Off the scale’ (Both standard 4.0 GPA and extended 5.0) this is due to the low percentages needed in AP’s to boost your GPA. Compared with the rigour (there words not mine) of getting an A*.

Also In UK unis getting 80%+ is basically impossible, and now with GCSE reforms the grading scale means only the top 1-2% get the top grade.

So IMO at every level now the UK system has tough grading scales.
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arigziegler
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The grading system in US universities is different. It's easier to get 90% in exams than it is in the UK. A first class degree would translate into a GPA of 4.0
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Notoriety
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
The question really is, what % of US physicists are awarded "summa *** laude" - I think that's equivalent to a UK First.
More magna. Summa is best of the best, starred/congratulatory first.

(Original post by 789XYZ)
Thanks again, this is really helpful.
I still can't help to find it strange that both systems have such different percentage boundaries, it seems to suggest that the UK system should be in some sense harder to account for lower percentage values being equivalent, a bit like with the pound and the dollar.
The Open Uni has firsts at 85+%. That doesn't mean OU is harder; it means OU assesses percentages differently. For example, an 80% in the US system would be a B. There is no way a B would be akin to an 80% on a UK degree, which for most subjects would be an exceptionally high first.
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(Original post by GovernmentEarner)
The UK grading scale is now very hard.

I was very seriously considering US universities to apply to this year (didn’t in the end) and in doing so I spoke to a lot of admissions tutors. One from Yale said to me that because I got A*A*A* in my A Levels that this would technically be ‘Off the scale’ (Both standard 4.0 GPA and extended 5.0) this is due to the low percentages needed in AP’s to boost your GPA. Compared with the rigour (there words not mine) of getting an A*.

Also In UK unis getting 80%+ is basically impossible, and now with GCSE reforms the grading scale means only the top 1-2% get the top grade.

So IMO at every level now the UK system has tough grading scales.
Well I guess that's nice to hear, I am studying in Scotland, finishing my first semester of the 2nd year and so far I have consistently achieved average module grades well in the 80's (including first year), all modules being withing the A (70% min).
I knew this were good grades, but I didn't want to be too happy about them for the following reasons:
-I was suspicious of the UK university boundaries being apparently too low (reason for this thread).
-Physics (my subject) seems relatively easier to get good grades at because unlike the less logically precise subjects, there is such a thing as right or wrong, and if you get all problems right you will get full marks, very different from writing 'the perfect essay' or something like that.
-Since I am still relatively new at university this may be the 'easy' part, also my A-level background may put me at a significant advantage, specially at introductory modules, also first year at Scotland is probably easier than at England for example.
Anyway, I still kind of think that the last two points may still have some validity, although again, I guess its fair to say I am doing rather good, though I would dispute this to be 'genius' level.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
So basically as a past GCSE and A-level student I got used to identify academic excellence as A* or A so >90% or >80% respectively, and a pass as a C >60%, recently I have also noticed that US universities among others seem to have similar or 'harder' GPA equivalences (in terms of percentage boundaries) .
However at the UK universities a pass seems to be just about >40% and excellence (first class) >70%, furthermore I have noticed that for the degree I am doing (at a UK university), physics, seems to have statistics of something comparable to a third of graduates achieving a first (pretty high).
So my question is: why does the UK university grading scale look comparatively 'easier', and how does it actually compare to those that look 'harder'?
Thanks for your time.
Yes, but in America for example, they have a test every few weeks. With GCSE/A-levels exams, you have to study for 2 years so it makes sense that grade boundaries are not high when you have an entire course to learn just for one single exam.
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(Original post by 789XYZ)
Well I guess that's nice to hear, I am studying in Scotland, finishing my first semester of the 2nd year and so far I have consistently achieved average module grades well in the 80's (including first year), all modules being withing the A (70% min).
I knew this were good grades, but I didn't want to be too happy about them for the following reasons:
-I was suspicious of the UK university boundaries being apparently too low (reason for this thread).
-Physics (my subject) seems relatively easier to get good grades at because unlike the less logically precise subjects, there is such a thing as right or wrong, and if you get all problems right you will get full marks, very different from writing 'the perfect essay' or something like that.
-Since I am still relatively new at university this may be the 'easy' part, also my A-level background may put me at a significant advantage, specially at introductory modules, also first year at Scotland is probably easier than at England for example.
Anyway, I still kind of think that the last two points may still have some validity, although again, I guess its fair to say I am doing rather good, though I would dispute this to be 'genius' level.
So, be happy. You're doing well. Of course it gets harder. And you get better, just like going from GCSE to A-level got harder.

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