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Grading system

In secondary and higher education, institutions use letter grades to assess results. The meaning of the letters used is as indicated below, unless specified otherwise in the notes to the transcript (there are many different variations).

In figures (GPA) Letter grade Description
4 A excellent/superior
3 B very good/above average
2 C average
1 D below average
0 F failure

Common abbreviations on transcripts, particularly in higher education, include:

Letter Description
P pass: no grade awarded
S satisfactory: no grade awarded
I incomplete: student did not satisfy all of the requirements by the end of the semester (the requirements must be met within the prescribed period)
W withdrawn: student has stopped taking a subject (with permission)
NC no credit: no credits have been awarded
R repeat: a subject being taken for the second time because the student did not pass the first time

Credit system

There are a number of different credit systems, which are all based on the number of contact hours rather than on the study load as a whole. Below, we describe the most common systems in secondary and higher education.

Secondary education

  • 1 credit for a subject that involves 5 hours of lessons per week over 1 academic year (of approximately 36 weeks).

Please note: the school sometimes awards 5 credits for this period rather than 1 credit. For example: if students take physics for 5 hours a week, they will be awarded 1 credit or 5 credits at the end of the school year, depending on the system used by the school.

Higher education

  • Theory: 1 credit = approx. 1 hour of teaching + 2 hours of preparation time.
  • Practice: 1 credit = 2-3 hours of laboratory work, practical or work placement.

It is important to establish whether an institution divides the year into semesters or quarters. An academic year has:

  • 3 x 15-16 week semesters (‘fall’, spring and summer); or
  • 4 x 10-12 week quarters (‘fall’, winter, spring and summer).

How the year is divided affects the value of the number of credits. This value is usually clear from the transcript (or from the notes to the transcript):

  • 1 semester credit = 1 contact hour per week over the course of 15-16 weeks; a total of 120 semester credits for a bachelor’s degree (30 credits per year).
  • 1 quarter credit = 1 contact hour per week over the course of 10-12 weeks; a total of 180 quarter credits for a bachelor’s degree (45 credits per year).