Unfortunately, travelling across the Atlantic has not necessarily turned you into a genius… Jessica Rimmer guides you through the differences in the US grading system.
The expression of marks and grades differ greatly between the UK and the US. As percentage values don’t carry the same grade weight, marks in the US are generally higher to those we’re used at LJMU. It’s fairly usual for students to receive marks in the 80 – 100% range, as this is considered the threshold for good work.
Once tutors establish a student’s percentage grade, they are able to convert it into a letter grade (A, B, C, D or F), which is then recorded on the student’s transcript. It is important to keep this in mind when receiving your percentage grades, as your interpretation of them may be clouded by your understanding of the UK grading system. For instance, if you were to receive 85% on your transcript in the US, you’ve not necessarily enhanced your analytical and written communication skills to the extent that Penguin Classics will be begging you to write the introduction to the novel you’ve written about. Rather, you’ve earned a B+ in accordance with SCSU’s grading system. So – a high 2:1.
Another US grading difference is the way in which results are characterised, as final degree classifications don’t exist over there. Instead, each student’s results are converted into a GPA (Grade Point Average) – a cumulative figure used to represent all of the marks earned during your undergraduate and/or postgraduate study to date. Therefore, your GPA is re-calculated each semester in order to account for your most recent grades. SCSU also use the letter grade +/- system which allows for a wider range in determining students’ grade point averages.
A great step by step guide detailing how to work out your grade point average can be found on the Fulbright website [this site’s a really useful resource for anyone thinking of studying in the US]. In the meantime, however, you can consult the ‘UK/US grading system conversion chart’ below to aid your understanding of these seemingly incomprehensible differences in grading: