Academic grading in North America

Academic Grading In North America

Academic grading in North America

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Academic grading in North America varies from country to country and even within countries.

United States

The most commonly used index in the U.S. educational system uses five letter grades. Historically, the grades were A, B, C, D, and F—A being the highest and F, denoting failure, the lowest. In the mid-twentieth century, many American educational institutions—especially in the Midwest (particularly the State of Michigan)—began to use the letters A, B, C, D, and E. The only difference here is that failure is denoted by E instead of F, which is not used by these schools. By comparison, the grade E is sometimes used in Canada as a conditional failing grade. No grades awarded on American quality indices are conditional, except special grades like I (Incomplete) and Y (course on non-traditional calendar, assigned to regular term in which the student enrolled in the course).

The A–F (A–E) quality index is typically quantified by correlation to a five-point numerical scale as follows:

Chromatic variants, represented by + and −, are commonly used. They are most commonly quantified as x.3 and y.7, e.g., B = 3.0, so B+ = 3.3 and B− = 2.7). A few institutions use only a single midpoint between the major points on the scale; that is, they regard an A− as effectively the same grade as B+. In those cases, an AB replaces the options of A- and B+ and is quantified as 3.5; a BC replaces B− and C+, with a value of 2.5; and a CD replaces C−/D+, worth 1.5. This approach...
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