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Grading System in France

The grading system in this nation revolves around the 20 point scale. This system of grading is used in universities and secondary schools throughout France. French students are rarely awarded grades higher than 16. The French educational system prizes strictness in grading. The passing grade for students is generally 10 though a grade of 8 or 9 is also considered satisfactory in some institutions.

Grading System In The French Universities

The French university grades students using the following 20 point scale :


 French TermEnglish Equivalent
 16 to 20 Tres bien
Very High honours/Very Good
 14 to 15.9 Bien
High honours/Good
 12 to 13.9 Assez Bien
With Honours
 10 to 11.9 PassablePass
 8 to 9.9 Satisfactory in certain institutions/Fail in others
0 to 7Insuffisant/ AjourneFail

The student is considered as having passed the examination when he or she gets a combined average of 10. Student performance is assessed in dual ways at higher educational institutions in France:

Final examinations: Final exams given twice a year at the end of each semester measure the knowledge of the student in various subjects.

Continuous assessment: There is continuous measurement of learning through tests and quizzes given to students throughout the year.

Grading System In Grandes Ecoles

Grandes Ecoles are prestigious higher educational establishments which select students following extensive oral and written examinations. Many of these institutions concentrate on key areas such as engineering and business administration. The grading system used by many of the Grandes Ecoles is very different from that of universities. For instance, some of these higher educational institutions use the following three letter grading systems, such as the Grandes Ecole for engineering at Lille:
  • A or excellent (Superlative)
  • S or satisfaisant (Satisfactory)
  • I or insuffisant (Fail)

Grading System In The French Baccalaureate ( Baccalaureat) Examination

The Baccalaureat exam is taken at the end of high school for entry into higher educational institutions. According to Campus France, which is the French national agency for information about higher education, grades earned in this exam are calculated out of 20 . 10 out of 20 is considered the passing grade. Grades of 15 or 16 are considered good. In certain subjects, even grades of 12 are considered satisfactory. The following table provides a full depiction of the grading system used in France for the Baccalaureate examination:

 16 to 20 tres bien
 14 to 15.9 bien
 12 to13.9 assez bien
 10 to11.9 passable
 0 to 9.9 insuffisant

Grading System Used In French Primary, Secondary And High Schools

Most schools use the 20 point scale for grading students. Primary schools use 10 point grading scales or letter grades like the grading scale provided by ECTS. The Department of Education at the Embassy of France in the US has provided the following information for grading systems used in French secondary and high schools and their American equivalents (2009) :

French Grading System

6th to 9th standard
Sixieme  to Troisieme
(Secondary/Junior High School)/ college
10th to 12th standard
Seconde to Terminale
(Higher Secondary/High School)/lycee
 American Equivalent
 17 to 20 15.5 to20 A
 15 to 16.5 13.5 to 15 A
 14 to 14.5 12 to 13 A-
 13 to 13.5 11 to 11.5 B
 12 to 12.5 10 to 10.5 B
 10. 5 to 11.5 9 to 9.5 B-
 9.5 to 10 8.5 C
 8.5 to 9 7.5 to 8 C
 7.5 to 8 7 C-
 7 6.5 D
 6.5 6 D
5 and below5 and belowF

Other Popular Grading Systems in France

The ECTS grading scale is becoming more popular in French post secondary education now . This grading scale is prepared as per the standards of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation system (ECTS). This scale is based on a statistical distribution and the following letter grades are given to students as per this system:

 A Top 10%
 B Next 25%
 C Next 30%
 D Next 25%
 E Next 10%

An F grade is given for students who need considerable work to pass. FX is a grade given to students who just need a little more effort to pass.


The grading system in French educational institutions is based mostly on the 20 point scale. Teachers are very strict while allocating grades. Many times, lower grades are considered satisfactory if the student has topped his or her class. Educational assessment in France is monitored by several national bodies.
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