UK Grading System in Universities 2024


Meridean Overseas

Updated On 18 May 2024 & Read Time 10 minutes


Stepping into a new country like the UK can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to studying there. Getting a handle on the UK university grading system is a must for Indian students eyeing admission to UK universities. It's not just about eligibility and course selection; it's about making informed decisions and boosting your chances of getting into your dream institution.


Are you also curious about the UK grading system? If yes, read this blog as it delves into its elements, significance, and recent updates. Grab a coffee and dive into our insightful journey!

Understanding the University Grading System UK

Before you start, you must understand that knowing details about your desired university and country is compulsory, as there are many things to look out for.


UK Grading System in Universities 2024


The British grading system is well-known for its effectiveness in assessing student achievements, which include both skills and academic strengths. Notably, countries such as Canada, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, India use the UK grading scale for higher education.


Hence, the United Kingdom employs a variety of grading methods. While Northern Ireland, Wales, and England use similar techniques, Scotland's grading system differs significantly. Let's look into the specifics of the UK university grading system.



Primary Education

Ends with the Scholastic Attainment Test or SAT.

Secondary Education

Ends with the General Certificate of Secondary Education or GCSE.

Further Education

Ends with an Advanced-Level, International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or University Foundation

Higher Education

Ranges from a minimum of 3-year ordinary bachelor’s degree to Doctorate programs.

Note that the SAT and GCSE are integral components of compulsory education in the UK. GCSE is usually undertaken by students from England, Northern Ireland, and Wales after secondary education.

element of the uk grading system

Importance of the Grading System in the UK

The UK university grading system is critical for students, teachers, and employers. Grades reflect academic achievement and dedication, which motivates students and promotes personal growth. Educators use grades to assess teaching effectiveness and course clarity, allowing for better learning experiences.


The UK grading system provides teachers valuable feedback by aligning course objectives with industry standards. It enables educators to tailor instruction to students' specific needs. Grades System UK provide a quick, uniform assessment of candidates' abilities, allowing employers to make more informed hiring decisions. Overall, it plays an important role in connecting education and the professional world.


Also, Read: University Grading System in Australia


UK Grading System in Compulsory Education

After understanding why it is important to know the UK grading system, let’s understand it in compulsory education. In the UK, GCSE grading differs between England and Northern Ireland/Wales.

  • GCSE grades in England are numerical type and range from the lowest (1) to the highest (9), in which 4 is considered as the passing grade on average.

  • Northern Ireland and Wales use a letter-based GCSE grading scale, where A* is the highest grade and F* is the lowest. Also, a D grade is the average minimum passing grade.


Indian students often pursue higher education in the UK, which includes graduate, post-graduate, and professional programs. So, several Indian students also undertake the International Baccalaureate (IB) for its global recognition in higher education.


Grading System for Higher Education in the UK

Along with learning compulsory education, you must also understand the education system for higher education in the UK. Pre-university and higher education courses are selective, focusing on precise assessment and evaluation of student performance. To do this, different grading schemes are used.


Let's look at the grading systems used for higher education in the UK:


UK Advanced Level Exam Grading System

Let’s briefly discuss advanced levels, or A-levels, which are school-leaving qualifications in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

  • Most universities accept A-Levels to assess applicants' suitability for subjects, courses, and programs.

  • The UK grading scale sets a minimum passing grade of 40%, with grades A, B, C, D, and E descending in order of achievement.

  • Below grade E is an unclassified or U grade.

  • Since 2010, students who score 80% or higher in all six modules and at least 90% in two of them have received an A*.

  • Grade E corresponds to about 40% of the minimum percentage equivalent.

Grade Letter

Percentage Score

Grade Definition



















Undergraduate Grading System in UK

A bachelor's or undergraduate degree in the UK can be of two types: Ordinary/Pass Degree and Honors Degree. Let’s break down the grading system for a bachelor’s degree. 

  1. First-class Degree (Distinction) - This is the highest grade achievable, which indicates outstanding academic achievement. Typically, it requires a minimum percentage equivalent to 70% or higher. In terms of letter grade, it's equivalent to an A.

  2. Upper Second-class Degree (2:1 - Merit) - This classification corresponds to a 60% to 69% range. Recognises students as proficient overall but with room for improvement in specific subjects.

  3. Lower Second-class Degree (Pass) - This category scores between 50% and 59%. It indicates lower academic achievement without significant quality in an academic context.

  4. Third-class Degree - This kind represents the lowest grade boundary, typically falling between 45% - 54%. It serves as the minimum passing criterion for degree courses. Informally known as the "gentleman’s degree," it provides limited opportunities for postgraduate study or entry into professional fields.


Overall, understanding these classifications provides insight into the academic achievement levels and opportunities available to students in the UK undergraduate system.

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Masters Grading System in the UK

Now, let us know the postgraduate degree grading system in the UK. Except for integrated master's programs, all master's courses in UK use a different grading scale than bachelor's courses. The grading system for university courses is as follows:

Grading Remarks

Percentage Equivalent


above 70%

Merit or Commendation

60% to 69%


50% to 59%

Borderline Pass

40% to 49%

Do UK universities use the GPA system?

Universities in UK do not use the GPA system that is common in North America. Instead, they use their own grading system. However, you can draw a general comparison between the two. For instance, a First-class degree in the UK is roughly equivalent to a 4.0 GPA.

UK Module marks

UK degree classes


Above 70%

First-class Honours


60% to 69%

2:1 Upper second class

3.3 to 3.7

50% to 59%

2:2 Lower second class

2.7 to 3.0

40% to 49%

Third class

2.0 to 2.7

Comparison Between UK Grading System and US Grading System

After gaining detailed knowledge about the UK grading system, let’s compare it with the US grading system for a better understanding.

Degree Class

UK Grades

US Grades

1st Class Degree

70% - 100%


Upper 2nd Class Degree

60% - 69%


Lower 2nd Class Degree

50% - 59%


3rd Class Degree

40% - 49%



0% - 39%


Also, Read: A Comprehensive Guide to the Canadian GPA System

Academic Grading System in Scotland

Now that you have learnt the comparison between UK and US grading systems, you must understand the Scottish grading system as it follows a separate gradation system. The Scottish Qualifications Authority uses a unique grading system for school-level qualifications. The standard grades range from A to E, and each has specific remarks.


Grade Remarks


Highest grade


Very strong pass






No award

Britain has long been a popular destination for Indian students pursuing higher education. The examination provides a glimpse into the UK university grading system at various levels of education in Britain.

Percentage of GPA in the UK

Knowing everything you need about the UK education system is essential, but it is also crucial to understand how it differs from the Indian education system. The table below shows the percentage of GPA in the UK.

UK Module marks

UK degree classes

10 point GPA

Above 80%

First-class Hons


75% to 79.99%

First-class Hons


70% to 74.99%

First-class Hons


60% to 69.99%

2:1 Upper second class


50% to 59.99%

2:2 Lower second class


45% to 49.99%

Third class


40% to 44.99%

Third class



In conclusion, the UK's university grading system stands as a robust framework analysing academic achievements through diverse methods and descriptors. Its impact extends to employability and career prospects. Evolving with educational advancements, it ensures relevance and fairness, aiming to equip graduates with essential skills for success in their fields.


We hope you enjoyed learning about the grading system in UK and got great insight into the topic. If you have more questions about how to study in UK, we encourage you to speak with our team of expert USA counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC).


Our counsellors will provide you with guidance throughout your study abroad journey. Get help with the application process, SOPs, and filing for a visa. Visit us and get one-to-one counselling, or avail yourself of free video counselling via our website. We will be happy to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us at or 1800-1230-00011.

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Question: What is the minimum passing grade for GCSEs in the UK?

Answer: The minimum passing grade for GCSEs is typically grade 4, which is equivalent to around at least 60% and Above. In Northern Ireland and Wales, a grade of D is typically the minimum passing grade.


Question: How are UK university degrees classified?

Answer: UK university degrees are typically divided into four categories: first-class (1:1), upper second-class (2:1), lower second-class (2:2), and third-class. These classifications are based on the student's overall academic achievement.


Question: What percentage is required for a First-class degree in the UK?

Answer: A first-class degree in the UK typically requires a percentage equivalent to 70% or higher. This shows outstanding academic achievement.


Question: What grading system is used for master's courses in the UK?

Answer: Most master's courses in the UK use a grading system that includes distinctions (more than 70%), merits or commendations (60% to 69%), passes (45% - 50%), and borderline passes (40% to 49%).


Question: How does the UK grading system compare to the US GPA system?

Answer: While the UK grading system uses classifications such as First-class, Upper Second-class, and so on, the US GPA system assigns numerical values to grades, which typically range from 0 to 4. A first-class degree is equivalent to a GPA of 4.0.


Question: What is the grading scale for Scottish school-level qualifications?

Answer: The Scottish Qualifications Authority grades school-level qualifications on a scale of A to E. Grades A and B indicate strong passes, whereas grade E indicates no award.


Question: Can Indian students pursue undergraduate programs in the UK?

Answer: Yes, you can pursue undergraduate programs in the UK. You generally must meet specific entry requirements, including academic credentials, English language proficiency, and other criteria established by individual universities.


Question: Is the UK university grading system only relevant for academic purposes?

Answer: No, the UK university grading system is vital for employers. Grades system UK provides a quick assessment of candidates' abilities and academic achievements, affecting selection choices and enhancing career prospects.


Question: Are there any differences in the grading systems between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland?

Answer: Yes, while England, Wales, and Northern Ireland generally use similar grading systems, Scotland has its own grading system for school-level qualifications. However, university grading systems may differ slightly across institutions.


Question: How can students from India prepare to study in the UK?

Answer: Students from India can prepare for studying in the UK by becoming acquainted with the UK education system, understanding the entry requirements for their desired programs, improving their English language skills as needed, and seeking advice from educational consultants such as Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC).

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