What you should know about the UK grading system

Grades are the final result of all of your hard academic work over the years. You work really hard during your entire college life to attain good grades because you know they are going to stick with you for the rest of your life. Grading systems vary greatly by institution so it’s important to understand what the equivalency is at your dream uni. In this blog we are going to dive into a break down of grading systems in the UK. If you still have more questions at the end. Get in touch! We are here to help.

Grading systems

Grading systems at UK universities are different from the grading system in high school. A 85-95% in high school studies may equate to a 60-70% range in undergraduate studies. 60-70% may not sound good but it is considered a great result! At a UK university getting a score between 90-100% especially in Honours courses is rare, but it is possible.

A degree with honours implies a high level of achievement than a non-honours degree and may also involve an extra year of study in some countries. An honours degree requires you to have a sufficient merit according to your university. In the UK, almost all bachelor’s degrees are awarded as honours degrees. If you aim to graduate with a degree with honours, your performance is measured in terms of ‘class’ of degree or ‘honours’. What a grade is to school assessment, a class is to university assessment. The class of your degree is based on the total percentage you attain in different assessments in each academic year. The graduate degree is classified into 4 levels depending on the range you are in.

First class honours

If you score 70% and above in your course, your degree certificate mentions that you have passed with first class. This indicates that you are in the top-performing percentile of your academic cohort.

Second class honours

Second class has been divided into two categories:

1. Upper Second Class- If you score between 60-70%, your degree certificate mentions that you have passed with upper second class. Commonly referred to as 2:1, pronounced as two-one, this range is indicative of your likeability of gaining employment easily. It is an attainable score if you have been sincere throughout the study period.

2. Lower Second Class- If you score between 50-60%, your degree certificate mentions that you have passed with lower second class.

Third class honours

If you score between 40-50%, your degree certificate mentions that you have passed with third class.

The good news is that if you may be able to appear for improvement assessment if you wish to better your score. It is always good to be realistic about your hopes and keep working hard towards them.

What if you don’t take an honours course?

If you don’t take an honours course then you take a general undergraduate course popularly known as ‘pass course’ at British universities. This is an ordinary degree and is not called an honours course.. If you don’t have the merit that suffices an honours degree then you are awarded a pass course. It may be of a shorter period as compared to an honours course depending upon your university.

What is the credit system of the UK?

In the United Kingdom, many universities use Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme. Your study hours sum up to credits. One UK credit is equal to ten study hours, that makes up to 120 credits in one academic year. Take a look at the requirement of credits for each degree

1. A bachelor’s degree with honours would require 360 credits.
2. A bachelor’s degree without honours would require 300 credits.

For a detailed view take a look at the following link:

Different surveys have been conducted to assess whether the students are able to obtain a first class or an upper second-class degree. The following data shows the percentage of students obtaining the degree under each classification in the academic years 2016-17 to 2020-21. The report of the Higher Education Student Statistics: UK survey shows an increase in the number of first-class achievers. You will be glad to know that a good percentage of students are able to achieve a first-class honours degree. The maximum number of students fall under the category of upper second-class degree. So, to pass with flying colours is an achievable target.

study abroad UK grading system

Read the tips that will take you up the ladder of success.

Tips for getting a first class

Before starting your studies, you should ensure that you are well versed with your the assessment criteria. Take guidance from your seniors and your lecturers about the ways to score well in your undergraduate studies. Since your curriculum includes much more than your annual examination, ask your professors what is required to attain good marks in your assessment. Know beforehand about the projects and presentations that you are required to prepare for the entire year. Start your homework early so that you are up for impressive presentations and excellent performance. Bookish knowledge may not be enough while writing your answers. The research done on daily basis will help you build critical analysis of topics that will be helpful in getting a good score. Plagiarism must be avoided during your academic journey. Apart from listening to all lectures carefully make notes that will help you in revising concepts. Keep all this in mind and aim for good grades with a positive mindset.

Now that you know about the UK grading system, start applying to the universities of your dreams. Let your Dream Maker take you there. Contact Gradstar Global Education today because your dreams deserve a helping hand.

Date Published: Feb-03-2023

Our Dream Makers are expert listeners, educators, career consultants and student supporters. They co-design your study abroad experience with you to empower you to reach for the stars. Because dreams deserve a helping hand.

About the author

Gloria is an educator and a writer with over 8 years of experience. Being an educator she has always enjoyed understanding students' goals and aspirations and guiding them for their paths ahead. Working with higher secondary students has given her a flexible perspective on the ecosystem of education. Apart from being an educator, she loves writing blogs and articles. She stands today as an educator and a writer to explore more of herself.