The European grading system also follows an ABCDEF system like in the US.

However, an A in an European grading system is worth more than an A in an American system.

So what is the point of using such a confusing system?

Now every American student applying in Europe will present their As and be perceived as incredibly impressive, while an European student with many Bs will go to US and be underestimated because a B in US essentially means "slightly above average", while a B in Europe means "Very good, but with minor mistakes".

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    what you link to is a "grading equivalent" scale for people wishing to transfer between institutions... Most faculty who deal with students coming from the US, and we get several, are aware of what an A or B grade means and can work out what and where they should then study. – Solar Mike Jan 6 '19 at 18:26
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    In Germany, which is a federal system like the U.S., the grading scale goes from 1-5, and yet, the grades are not even comparable among the 16 German constituent states. Everybody knows that final A-level grades from Bremen must be discounted, and that a Bavarian 1 counts much more than a 1 earned in Lower Saxony. In short, effective coordination takes more than using the same scale. It's politically difficult, because of the diversity of local traditions, expectations, and institutions. If it's hard in one nation, it's not going to be easier across nations. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jan 6 '19 at 18:44
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    I don't think Europe designed its grading system to be easy for people an ocean away to interpret. – Azor Ahai -- he him Jan 6 '19 at 20:33
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    @AzorAhai Some of the universities in EU are much older than others elsewhere... They are probably quite happy with their grading systems... – Solar Mike Jan 6 '19 at 20:37
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    There is no such thing as a "European grading system". – Roland Jan 7 '19 at 8:42

Actually, you are underestimating the intelligence of American academics. It isn't hard to do the computations and people on admissions committees know these things. In many cases, automatic translations are done before the committee even sees an application.

If you are confused by it, it is really only because you don't deal with it frequently enough. But in the larger world it isn't an issue and people won't over/under value anyone based on different grading schemes.

But for the most part, local practice is local. Most of the students stay fairly close to home, so any consistent scheme will do for most students. For the others, it is just a translation problem along with other translation problems that might occur.

I'll also note that not every institution in the US uses the same scheme in any case, and the "meaning" of an "A" can vary. The translations are needed here too.

It is a normal part of academic life.

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    +1, especially paragraph 2 – Randall Jan 6 '19 at 19:36
  • And there are some countries where the grading system is even easier than the U.S. Straight A applications from these countries are not very impressive, although straight A+'s are. – Peter Shor Jan 6 '19 at 22:12

Even within the US, colleges may differ significantly in the amount of grade inflation. People look at class rank and the competitiveness if the school (or even the major) to evaluate. Also this is one of the rationales for GMATs, GREs, etc. (especially for foreign schools wher people don't know much about it).

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