Grading System Used in USA Universities |

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A Step-by-Step Guide to US Grading System 2024

One of the most crucial parts when considering an American university is decoding the US grading system. Hence, before applying to a US institute, you must gain a solid understanding of the grading system used by universities in the States. So, with this blog, you can explore the complexities of the grading system, various types of grades, the importance of GPA, types of honors, and more. Let's begin by learning what the grade system USA includes!

Why Study in the USA?

The US is categorized among the nations with more than one million international students coming from different countries and backgrounds. There are numerous reasons behind choosing why to study in USA, get a degree, and settle there. Hence, we've curated some causes of why studying in the USA is popular among overseas students. Read the section!

  • Study at the World's Best Universities:Find almost every specialized program in these top American institutions. Even get the chance to learn from top industry experts. Expand your professional network by building connections with your college professors.
  • Wide Variety of Subjects: Studying in a US institution means access to different study programs in a variety of majors. The majority of US universities focus on liberal arts to major in. Meanwhile, students can find more popular fields such as business, biology, AI, video game development, etc.
  • Rich Cultural Diversity: The moment you arrive at your dream US university campus, you will find yourself surrounded by people from different parts of the world with unique traditions, lifestyles, cuisines, and fashion.
  • Build Friendships from Around the World: Many US cities organize annual cultural festivals honouring international food, traditions or culture, music, art, and more. Thus, stepping into this festival vibe, making friends, or even volunteering can help you connect with the vibrant culture and distinctive traditions.
  • Launch a Thriving Career After Graduation: Lastly, with the skills and experience gained through your classes, internships, and professional networks, give a head start when applying for jobs in the US and make yourself stand out to employers. 

Further, let's learn what the US grading system states and how American universities evaluate student's performance with the grading scale in the following section. 

Overview of the US Grading System 

A grading or scoring system is a common standard among universities to assess students' marks and evaluate their academic performance. Generally, marks are estimated as percentages or grades in schools or colleges. However, there is one popular system called Grade Point Average (GPA) that is used in the American grade system.

Moreover, the US GPA system is followed for all education levels in the country, where the most widely used GPA in US universities is the 4-point grading system. 

In addition to this, there are two types of American grading systems: Numerical and Letter. Both are relatively simple to understand and related to each other, and GPA is derived from these.

We will be learning about both of these through this blog!


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Types of Grading Systems in the USA

Getting familiar with the US grading system is the first step to learning how to get good grades in your exam. So, there are two different grading systems used in the USA. One is numerical, while the second one is an alphabetical system. Here's an easy breakdown of each grading system used in American universities.

1. Numerical US Grading System

The numerical technique of the American grading system is quite uncomplicated to understand. These grades are pre-decided by the university to mark students a suitable number to assess their performance. For instance, depending on your exam, you could be scored on a percentage numbering system anywhere between 0-100%. 

2. Letter US Grading System

Letter grades in American universities are used in routine or term exams to assess students' performance from excellent to fail. For instance, A, B, and C, it is also called the A-F grade scale. Every letter grade denotes the test performance of a student by a number. Further, they can convert the grade received into a GPA. Here's the breakdown of each letter grade in the US grading system:

Learn About Letter Grading System in USA |

3. Special US Grading System

The American grading system also integrates a few different letter grades into the US grading scale. These are not exactly grades or scores but instead, they describe the status of your course. However, students can still see these letters in their transcripts as per American grade system rules. So, to make sure these unexpected letters don't confuse you, here we've curated the list of what they mean in the US grade scale:

  • IP

IP states 'In Progress'. It states when a student is unable to finish parts of a subject within a specified time to earn the standard grade, they will be assigned this grade. Further, upon completion of the program, IP gets converted to a regular subject grade.

  • NC

NC in the US grading scale stands for 'Not Complete'. If any task or homework was assigned to a student and they failed to complete it within a restricted time scale, then this grade will be assigned on their transcript until they finish it.

  • W

W or 'Withdrawn' in the US grade scale means when a student is present throughout or has attended the classes but drops out of the course midway. According to the US grading scale rule, those students will be rewarded with this grade in their transcript. 

Moving further, do you know every letter grade in the American grading system corresponds to a number or percentage? Then, the number will be converted to a GPA score. So, let's read about what this GPA concludes and how it works in the US education system!

What is Grade Point Average (GPA)?

GPA, or Grade Point Average, is the primary marking system in the US grade scale. It is a figure or value that reflects the final marks obtained by a student over the complete period of their course. 

Remember, GPA is an entirely different ball game since it monitors students' academic achievement in the range of 1.0 to 4.0 grading scale. Hence, it's known as a 4-point grading scale in the USA. Here's how the GPA grading works in the USA: 

A = 4.0

B = 3.0

C = 2.0

D = 1.0

F = 0 

Let's take an example to understand the GPA scale. Suppose you get an A+ in some subject. Letter A denotes excellent performance and in GPA it refers to 4 points. Hence, it will be counted as the average of the grades you have received over your chosen particular semester or academic year. 

Let's learn how one can calculate GPA on the US grading scale! 

How to Calculate GPA?

In the American grade system, the aggregate quality points received in each unit or subject are added to calculate a final GPA score. Further, the total grade units will be divided by the total number of credits (or credit hours) earned in the enrolled course to get your final average GPA score. 

Also, it's not just the average GPA but your exact final GPA at graduation. The total semester hours confine how much weightage your course carries. However, students often get confused when it comes to calculating GPA scores. So, why should it scare you when you can learn how to estimate the final grade via the example below? 

Formula for Calculating GPA:

GPA = Total Grade Points / Total Number of Credit Hours Earned or Courses Taken 

Let's suppose you get a total of 24 grade points while the classes you took are 6, then, your GPA score would be 4.0.

Types of GPA

Now that we've mentioned how to calculate a GPA score and how they're portrayed in the US grading scale. Further, let's look at 3 different categories of GPA grading systems that represent different study levels in the States: 

1. Class GPA (GPA):

Also known as Course GPA, it emphasizes a specific set of courses within a class or subject. For instance, all your marketing classes in a single semester. Moreover, it tells how well you performed in those particular subjects. 

2. Semester GPA (SGPA):

It is a semester-based GPA which focuses on a particular semester only. This GPA looks at how well you performed in an entire semester and considers all the credits you earned in that study period. Hence, it gives you an opinion of your overall performance during the semester. 

3. Cumulative GPA (CGPA):

This is the entire one! It gives the overall academic performance of a student from the grades or credits they earned. Thus, it can be assigned to students at the end of their final semester in the US. This gives universities a comprehensive conception of their scholarly achievements. 

Further, students with good GPA scores are eligible to receive an honor as per the US grading system rules. No, honor is not a degree here! It is more like a phrase mentioned in a student's degree. Let's read what an honor is! 

Types of Honors in the US Grading System

In all American universities, students are awarded honors upon their graduation. Honor is actually a phrase which describes an academic degree. Hence, students who achieved a good GPA in their level of study may receive an honor according to their grades. However, based on other conditions, it may vary from university to university.

There are three Latin languages used for all the GPA scores. Let's take an overview: 

1. Cum Laude: With Honor

It's a Latin word which refers to "with honor" or "with acclaim". American institutions use this phrase to define an academic degree given to students with honorable distinction in the courses.

2. Magna Cum Laude: With Great Honor

This phrase denoted "with great distinction". So, students who graduated with a good grade are given the appellative Magna Cum Laude. This phrase is often reserved for the students who scored a GPA of 3.7-3.8 or who rank in the top 10 of their class. However, it still differs from institution to institution.

3. Summa Cum Laude: With Greatest Honor

The greatest honor among these two is Summa Cum Laude, which decodes to "with the outstanding honor". Students who score a GPA of 3.9-4.0 or have ranked in the top 1% of their class are eligible to receive this honor. 

Hence, students who want to have one of these honor achievements attached to their degree must learn how to improve their GPA score. Further, let's understand how letter and numerical grades are related in the US grading system through the next section! 

Every letter grade in the US education system corresponds to a number or percentage, which will be used to calculate a final GPA. Each university has its own set of rules on which grade denotes to what letter. However, there is a general breakdown of these letter grades used in US institutions and their corresponding numerical range. Meanwhile, the customary US grade scale includes A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, and F, with A+ categorized as the highest and F the lowest grade which denotes failure in exam.

Check out how the percentage to letter grade in US 4.0 scoring system appears like:

Understand Letters and Numerical Grades in US Grade Scale | 

With this table, you can easily calculate your Indian 10-point CGPA or percentage in a US 4-point GPA. Here's an overview of how to do it again!

Convert Indian 10-Point CGPA/Percentage to US 4-Point GPA Scale

As we know, in the Indian grading system, a student's performance is evaluated on a percentage basis, with each GPA denoting a specific percentage range. Hence, for international students seeking to convert their percentage or CGPA into a 4-point US grade scale, the following table depicts the percentage to GPA conversion: 

90-100% 4.0
80-89% 3.0 - 3.9
70-79% 2.0 - 2.9
60-69% 1.0 - 1.9
Below 60% 0

By going through the conversion table, you might have noticed that below 60% marks in Indian grading show a GPA of 0 or failure in the exam. This is inaccurate since there is no real conversion scale of Indian scores to American GPA.

Wandering to Grab Insights on Indian to American Grades Conversion? bg-image bg-image

You can take this table for reference purposes to get a rough picture of how your percentage will look in an American GPA. Also, US universities won't ask to convert your scores in their original scoring system since they understand how strict the marking is in Indian colleges. 

In addition, let's have an overview of the conversion table of Indian CGPA to the US 4-point grading scale! 

> 8.5 4.0
8.0 - 8.4 3.7
7.5 - 7.9 3.3
7.0 - 7.4 3.0
6.5 - 6.9 2.7
6.0 - 6.4 2.3
5.5 - 5.9 2.0
5.0 - 5.4 1.7
4.5 - 4.9 1.3
4.0 - 4.4 1.0
0 - 3.9 0

Finally, let's compare the Indian and US grading systems in the following section! 

Comparing Grading System in India v/s Grading System in US Universities

The US grading system is not as same as the one used in India. There is only one major difference between these grading systems and that is - 

In India, scholars' academic performance is assessed on a scale of 10 points, known as CGPA, while some institutions follow a percentage approach.

On the other hand, the grading system in the USA uses a 4-point GPA, where pre-decided values such as honors are assigned to students based on their academic performance. 

Wrapping it all up, in this blog, we learned about the US new grading scale 2024, its types, GPA scoring method, conversion, etc. Also, the American grading system isn't too hard to understand. However, if you face any difficulty while calculating your scores in GPA, don't hesitate to reach out to us! Our experts at provide the best possible guidance to students, from studying in the US to finding an ideal housing option. Yes, we help students by giving them some amazing accommodation options in the USA to make their paths less stressful. So, don't waste your time and connect with our experts today!


Q.1 What is a Passing Grade in the USA Grading System?

In the US grading system, a GPA of 1.0 or higher, similar to a D grade, is the passing score in most American universities.

Q.2 What is the Grading System in USA Universities for 2024?

In the American grading system scores like A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, and F are included. However, A+ is the highest, and F is the lowest grade or failure in the US grading scale.

Q.3 How Much CGPA Score is Good in the USA?

As per the US education system, your CGPA score must be equivalent to the 4-point GPA mentioned by the American institutions. However, to pursue an MS course in the USA, you would require a CGPA of 7 & above.

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