When I asked my professor why Is my grade so low, he told me that it is a good grade. Maybe he didn't want to make me sad? In my country 14/20 is just "not being dumb" grade. I am an international student and study on one of the best universities in France.

  • 3
    It would be answerable if you could add few more details. Exactly what does 14 20 mean in your country and how people interpret it. Is is saying 70% in the course? Is it really that bad?
    – Coder
    Jun 14, 2017 at 18:31
  • Does this answer your question? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_grading_in_France
    – mkennedy
    Jun 14, 2017 at 19:53
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    @Coder If the OP told us what exactly 14/20 means, that wouldn't only make this question answerable, it also would make it answered, don't you think? (Apart from the obvious, that it means 14 out of 20 possible points, which I guess we do know already.)
    – sgf
    Jun 14, 2017 at 22:26
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    In your country, are full marks expected? This isn't true for many European nations.
    – user2768
    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:51
  • 14/20 is for those around the top 20% I believe. Jun 16, 2017 at 1:36

1 Answer 1


Your question is a bit too broad; even restricting to classes I graded or saw graded by others, the answer can vary a lot. What I can say with some confidence (after about 20 years as a student then teacher in French higher education in mathematics) is:

  • it is almost universal (by law!) that the passing grade is 10, so all grades above 10 should mean the work deserves more than just a passing grade,
  • in some classes (projects, internships, etc.) 14 might be a bit plain, but still good,
  • in most written exam classes at the licence level (first to third year), 14 is pretty good but not outstanding,
  • in most written exam classes at the masters level (fourth and fifth year), 14 is between pretty good to very good (the best grade in a course can be lower than that).

Of course, on some occasion I have been disappointed by a 14. But in higher education I don't think I ever thought it was disgraceful.

To make a comparison I have seen quite a few files from Italians, our grading system is very different. Every Italian application I ever saw but one had maximal grades everywhere (70/70 or 110/110), while that is very rare in France for a single grade, let alone an yearly average.

  • A remark: The fact is that there is a lot of variation in Italy too, see e.g. academia.stackexchange.com/a/38923/20058 However, it's true that if you convert 14/20 to 21/30, this in Italy would be considered a score in the low range. Jun 14, 2017 at 21:11
  • Very good answer (18/20?). To give a very general example, you can look at the nationwide university entrance examination baccalaureat: the passing grade is 10 (over a maximum of 20), whereas a grade of 10 gives you an Assez bien (quite good) distinction, a grade of 14 a "Bien" (good) distinction, and a grade of 16 a "Tres bien" distinction (plus an article on your performance with the other awardees in the local journal, at least where I am leaving)
    – Taladris
    Jun 15, 2017 at 0:03

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