Grading (education)

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"GPA" redirects here. For other uses, see GPA (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Grade (disambiguation).

Grading in education is the process of applying standardized measurements of varying levels of achievement in a course. Another way the grade point average (GPA) can be determined is through extra curricular activities. Grades can be assigned as letters (generally A through F), as a range (for example 1 to 6), as a percentage of a total number of questions answered correctly, or as a number out of a possible total (for example out of 20 or 100).

In some countries, all grades from all current classes are averaged to create a Grade Point Average (GPA) for the marking period. The GPA is calculated by taking the number of grade points a student earned in a given period of time of middle school through high school.[1] GPAs are also calculated for undergraduate and graduate students in most universities. The GPA can be used by potential employers or educational institutions to assess and compare applicants. A cumulative grade point average is a calculation of the average of all of a student's grades for all of his or her complete education career.[2]


Yale University historian George W. Pierson writes: "According to tradition the first grades issued at Yale (and possibly the first in the country) were given out in the year 1785, when President Ezra Stiles, after examining 58 Seniors, recorded in his diary that there were 'Twenty Optimi, sixteen second Optimi, twelve Inferiores (Boni), ten Pejores.'"[3] Bob Marlin argues that the concept of grading students' work quantitatively was developed by a tutor named William Farish and first implemented by the University of Cambridge in 1792.[4] Hoskin's assertion has been questioned by Christopher Stray, who finds the evidence for Farish as the inventor of the numerical mark to be unpersuasive.[5] Stray's article elucidates the complex relationship between the mode of examination (testing), in this case oral or written, and the varying philosophies of education these modes imply, both to teacher and student. As a technology, grading both shapes and reflects many fundamental areas of educational theory and practice.

International grading systems[edit]

Most nations have individual grading systems unique to their own schools. However, several international standards for grading have arisen recently.


In the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam taken by secondary school students, grades generally range from A* (highest) to F. However, in some GCSE qualifications, there are two tiers (higher and foundation). In the higher tier, grades A* to D can be achieved, while in the foundation tier, only grades C to G can be awarded.[6] Generally a C or above would be considered a pass and a D or below would be considered a fail.

Grading systems by country[edit]

GPA in the US job market[edit]

According to a study published in 2014, a one-point increase in high-school GPA translated to an 11.85% increase in annual earnings for men and 13.77% for women in the United States.[7] However, the higher percentage increase was not found to be enough for women to catch up to men: women across all jobs with a 4.0 high-school GPA still earned less, on average, than men across all jobs with a 2.5 GPA.[7]

College and post-college students often wonder how much weight their GPA carries in future employment. In the various broadly defined professions as a whole, internships and work experience gained during one's time in college are easily the most important factors that employers consider. In order of importance, the remaining factors are choice of major, volunteering, choice of extracurricular activity, relevance of coursework, grade point average and the reputation of one's college. The relative importance of these factors do vary somewhat between professions, but in all of them, a graduate's GPA is relatively low on the list of factors that employers consider.[8]

There is also criticism about using grades as an indicator in employment. Armstrong (2012) claimed that the relationship between grades and job performance is low and it's becoming lower in recent studies.[9] The grade inflation that has plagued American colleges over recent decades has also played a role in the devaluation of grades.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ grade point average. (n.d.). WordNet2.0 Retrieved 3 October 2011, from website: point average
  2. ^ Grades and Grade-Point Average. Retrieved on 28 September 2011.
  3. ^ Pierson, George (1983). "C. Undergraduate Studies: Yale College". A Yale Book of Numbers. Historical Statistics of the College and University 1701 - 1976. New Haven: Yale Office of Institutional Research. p. 310. 
  4. ^ Postman, Neil (1992). Technopoly The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 13. 
  5. ^ Christopher Stray, "From Oral to Written Examinations: Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin 1700–1914", History of Universities 20:2 (2005), 94–95.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Berman, Jillian (May 23, 2014). "Female 'A+' Students End Up Making As Much As Male 'C' Students". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions" (PDF). The Chronicle of Higher Education. December 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2015. 
  9. ^ Armstrong, J. Scott (2012). "Natural Learning in Higher Education". Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. 
  10. ^ Katsikas, Aina (13 January 2015). "Same Performance, Better Grades". The Atlantic. Retrieved 5 November 2015. Ultimately, grade inflation has severe consequences. Not only does it make it difficult for employers to vet the caliber of an applicant, but it also misleads students, who often use their grades as benchmarks to help diagnose their strengths and weaknesses. 

External links[edit]