College Grading Scale in The U.S

In the United States, the academic grading scale uses a system of letter grades (A+, A, A−, B+, B, etc.) or numeric grades (percentage scales or 4.0 scales) to assess students' performance.
College Grading Scale in The U.S

Grading scales play an important role in the educational landscape, serving as a standard measurement of student performance. They not only provide a measure of academic achievement but also influence opportunities for future education and career paths. 

What is the Grading Scale? 

A grading scale is a standardized measurement used by educational institutions to assess the level of performance or achievement of students. It helps to evaluate and represent the quality of a student's work, typically in the form of letter grades or numerical scores. 

The grading scale may vary between different educational systems and institutions, but commonly used grading scales include letter grades such as A, B, C, D, and F, or numerical scores on a scale (e.g., 0-100). Each letter grade or numerical score corresponds to a certain level of performance, and these levels are often associated with specific descriptors indicating the degree of proficiency or understanding demonstrated by the student. 

For example, a typical letter grading scale in the United States might look like this: 

  • A: Excellent 
  • B: Good 
  • C: Satisfactory 
  • D: Needs Improvement 
  • F: Failing 

Numerical grading scales might range from 0 to 100, with corresponding descriptors and grade boundaries. 

Types of Grading Scale in the U.S. 

Two primary grading systems exist in the USA: the numerical system and the letter system. Both systems are intricately linked, and the GPA is calculated based on these evaluations. 

Letter Grade: Traditional A-F scale 

Upon completing an assignment, your instructor will affix a letter at the top, indicating the quality of your performance. Ranging from A to F, these letters signify the spectrum from excellent to less-than-satisfactory. However, they are accompanied by corresponding percentages, offering insight into the accuracy of your test responses or the fulfillment of course requirements. 

Below is an overview of the grading scale used in the U.S. college system, spanning from A to F: 




The highest grade achievable, denoting performance between 90% and 100% 


A commendable grade, representing an above-average score within the range of 80% to 89% 


A median grade, falling between 70% and 79% 


Although still a passing grade, it encompasses scores ranging from 59% to 69% 


A failing grade, but fear not! It's a cue to intensify your studies for future improvement 

In colleges, they use a plus/minus grading system (e.g., A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc.), offering a more detailed evaluation of a student's performance. For example, an 'A-' indicates a slightly lower level of achievement than an 'A,' whereas an 'A+' signifies a slightly higher level of achievement." 

Numeric Grade: Percentage Scale and 4.0 Scale 

In addition to the letter grades, the grading system often includes numeric grades, which can be expressed both on a percentage scale and a 4.0 scale. 

In the United States, numeric grades are often used in conjunction with letter grades to provide a more granular representation of a student's performance. The specific numeric grading scale can vary between educational institutions, but a common scale is based on a 0 to 100 range. 

Here's a general outline of how numeric grades might be aligned with letter grades in the U.S. grading system: 

  • A: 90-100 
  • B: 80-89.99  
  • C: 70–79.99 
  • D: 60–69.99 
  • F: 0–59.99 

In addition to these broad categories, some schools and universities further break down the scale with "+" and "-" modifiers to indicate more specific levels of achievement. For example: 

  • A+: 97-100 
  • A: 93-96.99 
  • A-: 90-92.99 

These numeric grades are often used to calculate the grade point average (GPA), which provides a cumulative measure of a student's academic performance over time. GPAs are calculated based on the letter grades and their corresponding numeric equivalents. 

The 4.0 scale in the U.S. grading system is commonly used to calculate Grade Point Averages (GPAs). The scale typically assigns point values to letter grades, and the GPA is an average of these points. Here is a standard representation of the 4.0 scale: 

Grade letter 

Grade Percentage 

Grade GPA 


97 - above 

4.33 - above 


93 - 96.99 

4.00 - 4.32 


90 - 92.99 

3.67 - 3.99 


87 - 89.99 

3.33 - 3.66 


83 - 87.99 

3.00 - 3.32 


80 - 82.99 

2.67 - 2.99 


77 - 79.99 

2.33 - 2.66 


73 - 76.99 

2.00 - 2.32 


70 - 72.99 

1.67 - 1.99 


67 - 69.99 

1.33 - 1.66 


63 - 66.99 

1.00 - 1.32 


60 - 62.99 

0.67 - 0.99 


0 - 59.99 

0.00 - 0.66 

Each letter grade corresponds to a specific GPA value, and these values are used to calculate the overall GPA for a student. For example, if a student receives an 'A' in a course, they earn 4.0 points for that course; if they receive a 'B+', they earn 3.33 points, and so on. The GPA is then calculated by taking the average of these points across all courses. 

A 4.0 GPA is considered an ‘A’ average and is often seen as an indicator of excellent academic performance. However, it's important to note that some schools may use different scales or have variations in their grading systems, so it's always a good idea to check with the specific institution for their grading scale and GPA calculation method. 

Weighted GPA: 5 Types of Classes 

In the US education system, Honors, College, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes are advanced or accelerated courses designed to provide students with more challenging and rigorous academic courses. Here's a brief overview of each: 

Regular or Standard Classes: 

Regular or standard classes are the standard level of courses offered in high school. They cover the standard curriculum at a pace suitable for the general student population. Regular classes provide a solid foundation in academic subjects and are suitable for students who may not be seeking the additional challenges presented by college preparatory, honors, AP, or IB classes. Grading for regular classes typically follows a standard scale where an 'A' is worth 4.0 points. 

Honors Classes: 

Honors classes are advanced courses that typically cover the standard curriculum in greater depth or at an accelerated pace. Successful completion of honors classes often results in a higher weighted GPA, providing students with an academic challenge while still staying within the standard curriculum. Honors classes usually have a higher GPA scale. For example, an 'A' in an honors class might be worth 4.5 points instead of the standard 4.0. 

College or College Preparatory Classes: 

College or college preparatory classes are courses designed to prepare students for the academic demands of college. These classes are often more rigorous and may cover material in greater depth than standard classes. Students who take college preparatory classes are generally better prepared for the challenges of higher education. These classes may also be weighted, meaning that the GPA scale is higher for these courses. For example, an 'A' in a college preparatory class might be worth 5.0 points instead of the standard 4.0. 

Advanced Placement (AP) Classes: 

AP classes are college-level courses developed by the College Board. Successful completion of AP classes can enhance a student's college application, and earning a high score on the AP exam may result in college credit. AP classes usually have an even higher GPA scale than honors classes. For example, an 'A' in an AP class might be worth 5.0 points. 

International Baccalaureate (IB) Classes: 

The International Baccalaureate program is an internationally recognized curriculum that includes a comprehensive set of courses. Students who complete the program may earn an IB diploma. The IB program emphasizes a well-rounded education and often includes requirements such as extended essays, community service, and the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course. The grading system for IB classes is not based on a 4.0 scale but rather on an international scale. The final IB diploma is awarded based on a combination of internal and external assessments. 

Honors, College, AP and IB programs are highly regarded by colleges and universities, and students often choose to take these advanced courses to challenge themselves academically and enhance their college applications. 

Here's the breakdown of weighted classes and bonus points. 

Weighted Classes 

Bonus points 











In conclusion, the U.S. college grading scale serves as a key tool for assessing student performance, providing a standardized measure of academic achievement. The U.S. employs diverse grading systems, including letter grades and numeric scales, with the latter often used to calculate the Grade Point Average (GPA). The 4.0 scale, a common GPA metric, assigns point values to letter grades and provides an overall assessment of academic achievement.