ECTS Grading Scale

Grading is an essential and sensitive part of the learning process. It is strongly rooted in the diverse pedagogical and cultural traditions of the various educational systems in Europe. There is a need, however, to make national grading systems more transparent, to allow a smooth transfer of grades from one system to another, in order to serve mobile learners and graduates.  In the framework of ECTS a grading scale has been developed to facilitate the understanding and comparison of grades given according to different national systems. It has no national reference point and aims at an objective evaluation of student abilities relative to those of other students within the same system. It was not designed to replace national systems, but to enhance the understanding of them in other countries.

The ECTS Grading Scale is based on the rank of a student in a given assessment, that is how he/she performed relative to other students. The ECTS system classifies students into broad groups and thus makes interpretation of ranking simpler. It is this grouping that lies at the heart of the ECTS grading system.

The ECTS system initially divides students between pass and fail groups, and then assesses the performance of these two groups separately. Those obtaining passing grades are divided into five subgroups: the best 10% are awarded an A-grade, the next 25% a B-grade, the following 30% a C-grade, the following 25% a D-grade and the final 10% an E-grade. Those who have not achieved a performance sufficient to allow a passing grade are divided into two subgroups: FX (Fail – some more work required before credit can be awarded) and F (Fail – considerable further work is required). This distinction allows differentiation between those students who have been assessed as almost passing and those who have clearly lacked the required knowledge and skills.

The ECTS Grading Scale can be represented in tabular fashion: 

 ECTS Grade  % of successful students normally achieving the grade Comment   


B 25  -
C 30  -
D 25  -
E 10  -
 FX  --  Fail - some work required to pass
F  --  Fail - considerable further work require

The main requirements for establishing ECTS grades are: the availability of sufficiently detailed primary data, cohorts of sufficient size to ensure validity, proper statistical methods and regular quality control of the results obtained through the use of the scale.

The degree of differentiation shown in marks varies greatly not only from country to country, but in many cases within a single country, or indeed within a single institution. Expression in terms of ECTS grades is simple where the local marks are highly differentiated. However, a sizeable number of instances exist where the local marks are less differentiated than those of the ECTS Grading Scale. These cases fall into two categories depending on whether the primary assessment data allows establishment of a ranking list or not. Where the original assessment can provide a ranking list, this ranking may be used directly to provide the appropriate ECTS grade. Where a valid ranking cannot be obtained from the primary assessment data, only an ECTS pass or fail should be recorded.