# How do ects grades compare to American grades?

How does the ECTS ABCD etc grades compare to the American ones?

Would I in particular be right in saying that the European B is worth more than the American B?

• It is extremely difficult to compare grades - usually, all universities are having huge tables for conversion. If you are really talking about "worth", then it's even more difficult, because a "B" given by me could be worth more or less then a "B" given by the professor sitting next to me... – OBu Jun 24 '18 at 7:52
• Related question: How to convert from one grading scheme to another? and many other questions linked to that one. – scaaahu Jun 24 '18 at 8:17
• Just to be sure: You know that the purpose of ECTS is not to have comparable grades, but a comparable measurement how hard something was, how much effort and time something needed? ... And while I don't have a good overview over all European implementations, there are countries where ECTS exists on paper, but is completely useless even for comparing things inside the country. – deviantfan Jun 24 '18 at 10:53
• What is a European B? E.g., in my country the grades are from 2-5 or 2-6 (depending on the university). In Germany the scale is inverted, and it includes a 1, too. And as deviantfan and DSVA noted, ECTS are not grades at all. So, what is it that you are really after? – corey979 Jun 24 '18 at 12:38
• @deviantfan What are you talking about? In the ECTS, A means someone's grade is in the top 10%, B in the next 25%, and so on. How is that not a grade? – user9646 Jun 24 '18 at 14:18

## 2 Answers

They don't compare at all.

With ECTS, grades correspond to relative position of the student for a given course. For example, A is for the top 10%, B for the next 25%, and so on. These percentages are out of passing students – even E is a passing grade, by definition. Students who fail get F or FX depending on the severity of failure. This is based on statistical data for that year and previous years, so that if in some year many students perform exceptionally well (or bad), then that should be taken into account, in theory.
(Converting grades is not an easy task. In my understanding the letter grades are not used anymore, rather the administration will actually convert the local grade into a foreign grade. There is an example in Annex B of the ECTS guide from 2015.)
See this page for more information: http://ec.europa.eu/education/ects/users-guide/grade-distribution_en.htm

Grades in the US are completely different. First, the passing grade is often C, not E, therefore the distribution of grades will obviously be different. From what I understand (correct me if I am wrong), anything lower than a B+ is quite bad for undergrad courses.
Moreover grades are not necessarily correlated with the student's standing relative to other students, unless the grading is done on a curve (which an outsider does not know) – it's possible for everyone to get an A, which is by definition impossible with ECTS grading.

• This is plain wrong. ECTS is a measurement of how much work a course is (1ECTS = 25hours of "work"). There's nbo such things as an "ECTS grade", while ECTS are standardized grades within the bologna system are not! Also, many institutions who use ECTS don't grade on a curve. And in many countries E (or 5 in a 1-5 system or 1 in a 5-1 system) means failed. – DSVA Jun 24 '18 at 14:40
• @DSVA I am not talking about the credits, I am talking about the grades. I didn't invent it: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECTS_grading_scale If OP has "A/B/C/D" on their transcript, then it's using this system. – user9646 Jun 24 '18 at 14:43
• yes, that's an optinal grading scheme which in the real world isn't really working and I've never seen it used anywhere. It basically doesn't exist and the article acknowledges this fact. – DSVA Jun 24 '18 at 14:51
• @DSVA It does not exist anymore. But I have older transcripts with this kind of grade on it. OP talks about ECTS A/B/C/D, this is the only meaning. But please, spare me the backpedaling. It is obvious from your earlier comment that you were not aware of this system, or of the more flexible grading distribution tables that replaced them. I am not interested in further discussion. – user9646 Jun 24 '18 at 14:53

How does the ECTS ABCD etc grades compare to the American ones?

You cannot compare them. Comparing grades in anything else than standardized tests doesn't make much sense. And sometimes it's even hard to compare results of different runs of a standardized test if the questions change.

You might compare grades given by the same professor on the same subject, but even comparing grades given by different professors on the same subject at the same school often doesn't work.

Would I in particular be right in saying that the European B is worth more than the American B?

I don't have any hard data on this but in general this might actually be the case, at least in my experience. In many european countries on many european universities things like grading on a curve doesn't exist and grade inflation isn't nearly as bad as in the US. For example in the Netherlands getting 8/10 is already very good and you could definitely compare that in most cases to a US A. 9/10 is very rare and 10/10 doesn't happen very often. But keep in mind, even here in Europe there are big differences in different countries.

Also, as deviantfan pointed out in a comment, ECTS are just a measure of how much time a course needs, not how difficult it is.

• Grade inflation does not matter for ECTS. Grades correspond to percentile. A is top 10%, B is next 25%, and so on. If the best performers get 7/10, then 7/10 will get an A grade. – user9646 Jun 24 '18 at 14:17
• @NajibIdrissi I said that ECTS has nothing to do with grades (except if you are doing ECTS weighted grade average). And the point is that in many countries grades are not calculated based on a curve but rather on a fixed grading scheme. For example an A beeing >90% of the total score, which also means that it's totally possible that no one gets an A. – DSVA Jun 24 '18 at 14:38