Academic grading in Finland

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This is an article on the grading that is used in Finland. Several systems are in use in different educational institutions in Finland.

Comprehensive school[edit]

The "school grade" system has historically been a scale of 0 to 10, but all grades lower than 4 have been discarded. Thus, it is now divided between 4, the failing grade, and 5–10, the succeeding grades. This is similar to the grading scale used in Romania.

  • 10 (excellent), represents about 5% of the top
  • 9 (very good)
  • 8 (good)
  • 7 (satisfactory), the mode
  • 6 (fair)
  • 5 (passable)
  • 4 (fail)

In individual exams, but not in the final grades, it is also possible to divide the scale further with '½', which represents a half grade, and '+' and '–', which represent one-fourth a grade better or inferior. For example, the order is "9 < 9+ < 9½ < 10– < 10". The grade '10+' can also be awarded for a perfect performance with extra effort by the student, though it is not an official grade.

Upper secondary school[edit]

Upper secondary schools use the same grades for courses and course exams as comprehensive schools do, but the matriculation examination grades are in Latin. The grading system uses bell curve grading.

Matriculation examination grades[1]
Grade Abbr. Points English explanation Literal translation Percentage of participants
laudatur L 7 outstanding lauded (praised) Top 5%
eximia cum laude approbatur E 6 excellent approved with exceptional praise 15%
magna cum laude approbatur M 5 very good approved with great praise 20%
cum laude approbatur C 4 good approved with praise 24%
lubenter approbatur B 3 satisfactory gladly approved 20%
approbatur A 2 pass approved 11%
improbatur I 0 fail/unsatisfactory not approved bottom 5%

The magna cum laude approbatur grade was introduced in 1970 and eximia cum laude approbatur in 1996. Laudatur grades achieved before 1996 are now counted as eximia cum laude approbaturs.

In the grading of Master Thesis' there are also non sine laude between lubenter (B) and cum laude (C):

Higher education[edit]

Universities typically use grading scale from 0 to 5:

Finnish grade English explanation US equivalent German equivalent
5 outstanding A/A+ 1
4 very good / excellent B+/A- 2
3 good B 3
2 satisfactory B- 3.3
1 pass C 4
0 fail D/F 5

As a rule of thumb, passing an examination requires obtaining 50% of the maximum points in the examination. There is almost no grade inflation in Finland and students' grade averages of over 4.0 are rare. In fact, it is not uncommon for an examination to be failed — or passed with grade 1 — by most students.

Before Autumn 2005 the grades from 0-3 were in use (0 = failed, 3 - very good/excellent) and these can be seen in older certificates. Some courses have also been graded only failed or passed.

Master's theses are typically graded with either the above scale from 0 to 5 or by the Latin system used in high school matriculation exams, see above. Contrary to the upper secondary school however, the grade laudatur is typically used very rarely (significantly less than 5% of theses). Indeed, laudatur is often reserved for exceptional students and it is typically awarded for a thesis only once in 5 to 10 years. In practice, eximia is often considered as the best grade available and it best corresponds to grade 5 in the 0-5 scale.

PhD theses are usually evaluated by pass or fail, although some universities use the Latin system or the scale from 0 to 5.


  1. ^ "The Matriculation Examination". Ylioppilastutkintolautakunta. Archived from the original on 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-04-27.