Academic Grading System in Germany

Grading System in Germany is highly decentralized and may vary depending upon the institution.

Schools: Grading Mechanism

Germany uses a 6-point grading scale (GPA) to evaluate the performance of school children. A GPA means grade point average. It is the average of all grades obtained.

1 (sehr gut, very good) is given for excellent performance and regarded as “very good”.
2 (gut, good) is given for performance that satisfies the standard completely and is above-average. Regarded as “Good”.
3 (befriedigend, satisfactory) indicates "average" performance. Regarded a “Satisfactory”.
4 (ausreichend, sufficient) is the lowest passing grade and is given if the criterion has been met but with a number of notable errors. Regarded as “Adequate”.
5 (mangelhaft, deficient) is given if the standard has not been met but, the fundamentals have been understood. Regarded as “Poor”.
6 (ungenugend, insufficient) is the lowest possible grade and is given if the standard has not been met and the basics have not been understood. Regarded as ‘Very poor”.

Universities: Grading Mechanism

In German universities (except for law schools) a 1 to 5 scale is used:
  • 1.0–1.5 sehr gut (very good: an outstanding achievement)
  • 1.6–2.5 gut (good: an achievement which lies substantially above average requirements)
  • 2.6–3.5 befriedigend (satisfactory: an achievement which corresponds to average requirements)
  • 3.6–4.0 ausreichend (sufficient: an achievement which barely meets the requirements)
  • 5.0 nicht ausreichend / nicht bestanden (not sufficient / failed: an achievement which does not meet the requirements)
Most of the universities use "mit Auszeichnung bestanden" (passed with distinction/ excellent) if the grade is a perfect score of 1.0.

For law students at German universities, a similar system to the 1 to 5 scale is used that comprises one more grade that is inserted between 2 (gut) and 3 'befriedigend', named "vollbefriedigend” that means full-satisfying.

Exams at German universities were evaluated after the first graduate degree (one to six). With a transformation in bachelor’s and master’s system and emergence of the Bologna-reform, there is a third characteristic. For every lecture or assignment with a passed exam at university the students get ECTS-points, i.e. European Credit Transfer System. These points are summed up at the end of the studies and put together with the final thesis and the average of all grades. Allocating these one gets his or her final degree.

 ECTS Grade % Rank German Grade German DefinitionEnglish Definition
 A Top 10%   
 1,0 – 1,5 Hervorragend Excellent
 B Next 25%
 1,6 – 2,0 Sehr Gut Very Good
 C Next 30%
 2,1 – 3,0 Gut Good
 D Next 25%
 3,1 – 3,5 Befriedigend Satisfactory
 E Final 10%
 3,6 – 4,0 Ausreichend Sufficient
 F/FX  4,1 – 5,0/6,0 Nicht Bestanden Fail

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