Academic grading in Sweden
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In the Swedish grundskola [Kindergarten - Ninth grade] (primary/elementary and secondary/high school, officially called "compulsory school" by Skolverket), students are currently (December 2012) graded from the sixth grade and onward. The students can be graded:
- A - Exemplary
- B - Excellent
- C - Good
- D - Adequate
- E - Acceptable
- F - Fail, not passed
And if the student hasn't been attending classes enough (sickness, late start, truant) there shan't be put a grade but instead be marked with an *-, that gives the same points (0p) as an *F. But it is not an actual grade. Rather, a lack of grade.
A reform was taken into full effect on the beginning of the semester in 2011 which had students graded from the sixth grade, and the grade is more similar to the system of the upper secondary school (gymnasium), with grades F-A. According to Skolverket, the change is due to a lot of students (~10 %) failing in courses in Swedish, Swedish as a second language, English or mathematics in the 9th year.
In the gymnasium (three-year pre-university course, similar to the UK sixth form college, officially called "upper secondary school" by Skolverket, despite there being no such thing as a "lower secondary school"), the same grading system as the primary school was used until 2011, when it was changed to a six-degree system A-F (A being the highest and F for having failed). Grades are assigned based on individual achievements rather than relative performance. Formally, the grade should reflect the degree of attainment of stated learning outcomes and objectives.
To easily count an average grade for the student, every grade in its subject gives a certain amount of points. To later use the grades for entrance to a specific program of courses in the Gymnasium, or to the higher educational institutes as the Universities etcetera. To count the average, all the points of the seventeen best grades are count together to then be divided by 17, the number of grades a student can present. Thau the best possible grade, *A, is worth 20 points, the maximum score is 340 points (17 grades x 20 points [The grade of an *A] per grade), or an average score of 20 points, which only is made if the student can show the grade of an *A in all subjects he/she has read during the last semester.
- A=20 p
- B=17.5 p
- C=15 p
- D=12.5 p
- E=10 p
- F=0 p
- -=0 p
This can be shown by the grade forms below;
[Bild] Picture & Art= B (17.5)
[Engelska] English= A (20)
[Hemkunskap] Home economics= C (15)
[Idrott] Physical education= B (17.5)
[Matematik] Math= A (20)
[Musik] Music= D (12.5)
[Biologi] Biology= B (17.5)
[Fysik] Physics= A (20)
[Kemi] Chemistry= C (15)
[Historia] History= B (17.5)
[Samhällskunskap] Social studies= A (20)
[Religionskunskap] Religious knowledge= A (20)
[Geografi] Geography= B (17.5)
[Träslöjd/Textilslöjd] Wood work/Needle work= E (10)
[Svenska/Svenska som andraspråk] Swedish/Swedish as a second language= A (20)
[Moderna språk] Foreign languages (French, Spanish, German)= B (17.5)
Which gives a sum of 277.5 points, or an average point of 17.34, which symbolizes the grade of a C, even if you could place it as a weak B (B-), when a B is represented of a grade point of 17.5 or higher. When this grade isn't really that much the grade is counted as the grade below, in this case a C, which is represented by 15 points or higher.
If the student has parents from, or was born in a foreign country, he or she has the right to get education in his or her native language and also gets a valid grade in that language. Because you can only file 16 grades this gives the student the opportunity to choose which subject not to count, possibly the worst. Depending on schools the students can study another subject (Technics, Languages etc.), where the same procedure is used to file only the allowed 16 grades.
Until 1996 relative grades on the scale 1-5 were used, with 5 being the highest grade. The scale was intended to follow a normal distribution on a national level, with a mean of 3 and a standard deviation of 1.
Up until 1962 yet another scale was used:
- A - Berömlig (Excellent)
- a - Med utmärkt beröm godkänd (Passed with great credit)
- AB - Med beröm godkänd (Passed with credit)
- Ba - Icke utan beröm godkänd (Passed, not without credit)
- B - Godkänd (Passed)
- Bc - Icke fullt godkänd (Not entirely passable)
- C - Underkänd (Fail)
- D - "Klandervärt" (Humiliation)
Though unused for over 40 years, this scale retains some cultural significance, and the standard law school grading scale used today is based on it (see below).
1996 - 2010
From 1996 to 2010, grades ranged from "IG", "G", "VG", to "MVG" ("IG" being failed). This was changed in the secondary school reforms of 2011, primarily to make the distinction of grades clearer and to make the grading of students fairer. The IG-MVG system was translated into a numerical GPA like number for application purposes etc., where MVG equaled 20.0, VG 15.0, G 10.0 and IG 0 and the highest achievable GPA thus being 20.0. This system is still (2013) in use for students who started their secondary school with these grades.
On university level the following standard grading scale has been defined:
- VG - Väl godkänd (Passed with distinction)
- G - Godkänd (Passed)
- U - Underkänd (Fail)
As long as relative grading is not used, however, individual universities may choose to use any other scale. For example, in the fields of engineering and technology, the passing grades of VG and G are commonly replaced with 5, 4 and 3, whereas law schools consistently employ a scale of AB, Ba and B as passing grades. Further, a number of universities are currently in the process of transitioning to an ECTS based scale, with an A to F grading, pursuant to the Bologna process. Many universities (e.g. KTH and Stockholm University) finished the transition process in 2007 or 2008.
Prior to transitioning to the Bologna Process, the private university Stockholm School of Economics (Sw. Handelshögskolan i Stockholm) adopted its own grading scale:
- B - "Berömlig" (Excellent)
- MBG - "Med Beröm Godkänd" (Passed with distinction)
- G - "Godkänd" (Passed)
where B corresponded to a >=85% score, MBG >= 70% and G >= 50%.