Understanding the Grading System in USA

Several Indians harbour a dream of pursuing higher education opportunities in America. From Ivy League universities to institutes offering direct routes to Silicon Valley, choosing to study in USA can enhance future opportunities. However, those hoping to study abroad must examine the grading system used in US universities. The system evaluates performance through credits, grades, and a grade point average. Let’s better understand the grading system in USA.

Understanding Credits and Credit Hours

When discussing courses in the US, students often mention credits. Each subject has a specific number of credit hours learners must complete each semester. Faculty members decide the credit hours before the course starts. Typically, undergraduate degrees require students to complete at least 15 credit hours per semester. Graduate students often have to complete 24 credit hours each semester. The professor assigns a credit when students utilise the credit hour satisfactorily. Learners facing a shortfall of credit hours at the end of the semester can complete classes during vacations or take up independent study to make up the deficit. Students earn a letter grade value for each credit hour, which they can use to calculate their final Grade Point Average (GPA).

An Overview of Letter Grades

Educators provide a letter grade for all assignments and exams. You can earn a grade between A and F. Teachers assign a grade based on the quality of assignments or the number of questions attempted in an exam. The United States grading scale has five levels.

GradeDescriptionPercentage Value
BVery Good80-89%
CImprovement Needed70-79%
DAlmost Failed60-69%

For a more precise evaluation of your progress, educators may break down the grades with the help of a plus and a minus. Instead of a simple A grade, they may give students an A+ or an A-. The letter grading scale in USA then expands as follows:

GradePercentage Value

Special Grades

Educators utilising the grading system in US university courses may use special grades that do not fall under the A to F system. These grades help explain progress. The grades include:

IP – In Progress

Educators may give you an IP grade when you have pending credits. Once you complete the work, you can request a grade change.

NC – Not Complete

Teachers use NC when students miss an assignment, tutorial or exam. 

W – Withdrawn

Students can drop a class after the trial period when they find the coursework overwhelming. In such cases, the educator uses the W grade.

Evaluating Progress with the Grade Point

The A to F letter grades correspond to a grade point. These grade points become crucial while using the Grade Point Average (GPA) system in USA. You can use the following GPA scale in USA to convert a percentage or grade to a grade point.

Letter GradePercentageGPA

The US GPA System

Your Grade Point Average, or GPA, assesses your performance across subjects. Educators first calculate your subject GPA before calculating your cumulative GPA. They use the following formulae to check your scores.

Subject GPA = Credit Hours x Grade Point

Cumulative GPA = Sum of Subject GPA / Total Number of Credits

We can understand how to calculate your GPA with an example. Assume you study mathematics, economics, statistics, and psychology. Your educators require you to complete three credits in economics and four credits each in mathematics, statistics, and psychology. At the end of the year, you receive the following grades:

Mathematics – A-

Economics – B+

Statistics – A+

Psychology – A

Now, you can calculate the GPA for each subject by multiplying the grade point and the number of credits.

SubjectLetter GradeGrade PointCreditsGPA
Total  1556.3

To calculate your final GPA, you must divide the total GPA, 56.3, by the total number of credits, 15. Your GPA for the year will be 3.75.

Financing Your Higher Education in the US

In today’s competitive work environment, young Indians work hard to fulfil their aspirations and graduate from universities in the US. Understanding the grading system is only part of the journey. Students must also plan their finances and apply to their preferred universities in the US. Given the high tuition fees and cost of living in many parts of the US, a majority of Indian students opt for an education loan for abroad. Education-focused lenders like Avanse offer up to 100% financing with a student-friendly education loan interest rate. Additionally, they provide proof of funds documentation to ease the university and visa application process.

Exploring and understanding the grading system used by US universities empowers you to make informed decisions about your academic future. When you’re ready to start applying, ensure you evaluate available loans for students toget the financing you need to follow your dreams.

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