At most universities in the U. S. students' work is graded or evaluated. The most frequently used system for reporting those evaluations are letter grades. Teachers assign the letter grades for each student for each course. The teachers may also use these letter grades for scoring student tests or assignments.

The letter grade "A" is given for students' work which is exceptional. It is the most desirable grade. The letter grade "B" is given for students' work which is above average but which is not exceptional. A "C" grade is given for students' work which is average--acceptable, but not outstanding in any way. A "D" grade is given for work which is not satisfactory in some way. Students may receive "D" grades and complete their classes, but "D" grades are considered undesirable by most students.

Students' work can also be completely below university quality. If this is true, the students receive a failing grade. Some universities represent this grade with the letter "E" (given because it is the next letter in the alphabet) and others represent the grade with the letter "F" (given because it stands for "Failing"). When students receive failing grades in classes, they must take the classes again if they desire to have the classes be part of the fulfillment of graduation requirements.

Teachers may modify the five letter grades mentioned above by placing a "+" or "-" sign after the letter. The "+" (plus) sign indicates the work is slightly better than most work which is given the letter grade. The " -" (minus) sign indicates that the work is not quite as good as most work which is given the letter grade.

In some courses, letter grades like those listed above are not assigned. Instead, students receive one of two grades--passing or failing. The passing grade is usually indicated by a "P" (for "Passing") or an "5" (for "Satisfactory"). The failing grade is usually indicated by an "F" (for ailing") or a "U" (for "Unsatisfactory). Many graduate courses use this grading system. However, at some universities there are selected undergraduate courses which also use this system. Also, some universities allow students to select which system they want used for their grade report. Students usually select the five letter grade system if the class is important for their major or if they are quite sure that they will do well in the class. They select the two letter system if the class is not directly related to their major and/or it is not important to have a more clearly specified grade.

In addition to the grades above, many universities also have a grade which shows that the work for the course has not been completed for some reason (which both the teacher and the student agree is acceptable). Most universities use "I" on the grade report to show such incomplete work. At a later date, every "I" grade will change to one of the letter grades shown above.


  1. What kind of grading system do universities use in your country?
  2. Who gives the grades in your system and for what kinds of work?
  3. When do students receive grades?