Academic grading in France

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The French grading system is based mostly on a 20-point grading scale: it is used above all in secondary schools and universities.

The French high school diploma baccalauréat uses the 20-point scale, with the following mentions (honors):

  • 16–20: very good (très bien: TB)
  • 14–15.9: good (bien: B)
  • 12–13.9: satisfactory (assez bien: AB)
  • 10–11.9: correct (passable; not an official grade)
  • 0–9.9: fail (insuffisant)

Primary schools generally use a 10-point grading scale or a letter grade like the ECTS grading scale. French universities traditionally use the 20-point grading scale, generally in a stricter way than secondary schools, which means that students are unlikely to receive marks as high as they did in secondary school. The case of the classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles is particular in the sense that class ranking rather than marks usually reflect the student performance. An average mark of 7 can therefore be considered as a satisfactory grade if the student performs to be in the top of his class.

The ECTS grading scale is more and more common in the post-secondary education system, since it is the standard for comparing study performance throughout the European Union. The GPA grading scale is becoming more and more common as well, since it eases the comparison with American students.

Some Grandes écoles use "exotic" systems, like Ecole Centrale de Lille, which uses a three-letter scale system:

  • A: Excellent
  • S: Satisfactory (satisfaisant)
  • I: Fail (insuffisant)

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