Belgium Grading System

In Belgium, the grading system can vary slightly between different levels of education, such as high secondary education (commonly referred to as high school in many countries) and higher education (college/university). The system is primarily numerical, ranging typically from 0 to 20, where a higher score indicates better performance. Let’s break down the main grade scales used in Belgium for both high school and college/university levels.

High School Grade Scale

Belgium GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeEquivalent GPA (out of 4.0)
16-17.9Very Good80-89%3.7
0-9.9FailBelow 50%0.0

College Grade Scale

Belgium GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeEquivalent GPA (out of 4.0)
16-17.9Very Good80-89%3.7
0-9.9FailBelow 50%0.0

In some schools and universities, you might encounter variations within these grades, such as ‘+’ and ‘-‘ (e.g., 14+ or 14-) to provide a more nuanced evaluation. Furthermore, different institutions may adopt slightly varying scales or additional criteria for grading, so it’s always a good idea to check specific grading policies.

Keep in mind that while these tables provide a general guide, the exact equivalent in terms of GPA or percentage might vary depending on the institution and the context in which the grading is applied. This system aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of a student’s performance, considering not just the knowledge acquired but also the skills and competencies developed throughout their education.

Understanding Grades in Belgium

Delving into the meaning behind each grade in the Belgian grading system offers insight into students’ academic performance. Let’s explore what each grade signifies, from excellence to the threshold of passing, and how they reflect a student’s understanding and mastery of the subject matter.

🌟 18-20: Excellent

Grades in the range of 18-20 are considered exceptional. Achieving a score within this bracket indicates a deep understanding of the subject, the ability to apply knowledge in complex situations, and often, the capacity to think critically and independently. Students who score in this range have not only met all the criteria for their assignments or exams but have also demonstrated original thinking or a particularly sophisticated grasp of the topic.

🎓 16-17.9: Very Good

A score between 16 and 17.9 is classified as ‘Very Good.’ This range signifies a strong grasp of the material, with students showing a high level of competence in applying their knowledge effectively. While there might be minor areas for improvement, students in this grade range have displayed thorough understanding and solid performance.

👍 14-15.9: Good

Grades from 14 to 15.9 are deemed ‘Good.’ Students achieving these scores have a good understanding of the subject matter. They can apply their knowledge in familiar contexts and have demonstrated proficiency in most aspects of the curriculum, though there may be some areas needing further development or refinement.

🙂 12-13.9: Satisfactory

A ‘Satisfactory’ grade falls between 12 and 13.9. This indicates that the student has an adequate understanding of the core concepts and can apply their knowledge in standard situations. However, the performance might lack depth in some areas, suggesting room for further learning and improvement.

✔️ 10-11.9: Sufficient

Scores ranging from 10 to 11.9 are considered ‘Sufficient.’ This is the minimum passing grade, showing that the student has met the basic requirements of the course. While the understanding of the subject may be basic and application of knowledge somewhat limited, students have done enough to progress.

❌ 0-9.9: Fail

A grade below 10 is categorized as ‘Fail.’ This outcome signifies that the student has not met the necessary criteria to pass. It indicates significant gaps in understanding or the inability to apply knowledge adequately. Failing grades require students to revisit the material, seek additional support, and possibly retake exams or courses to improve their understanding and performance.

Understanding these grades and what they represent can help students set realistic goals and identify areas for improvement. Remember, each grade is a stepping stone in the learning process, offering valuable feedback on your academic journey. Keep striving, stay curious, and embrace challenges as opportunities to grow! 🚀

Belgium Grade Comparison

Comparing grading systems across countries can help students, educators, and institutions understand academic achievements in a global context. Below is a table that offers a comparative view of how Belgium grades align with those in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Canada, and China. This comparison should be seen as indicative rather than exact, as grading practices can vary significantly even within countries, depending on the institution and specific criteria used.

🌍 International Grading Systems Comparison

Belgium GradesUS GradesUK GradesIndia GradesAustralia GradesCanada GradesChina Grades
18-20AFirst-Class Honours (1st)60-100%High DistinctionA85-100%
16-17.9A- to AUpper Second-Class Honours (2:1)55-60%DistinctionA-75-84%
14-15.9B+ to A-Lower Second-Class Honours (2:2)50-55%CreditB65-74%
12-13.9B to B+Third-Class Honours (3rd)45-50%PassC+60-64%
10-11.9C to B-Pass40-45%Pass ConcededC50-59%
0-9.9FFailBelow 40%FailFBelow 50%

This table simplifies complex grading systems to facilitate a basic understanding of how grades might be viewed across different educational contexts. For instance:

  • United States (US): Uses letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) with pluses and minuses to provide more granularity.
  • United Kingdom (UK): Has a degree classification system for higher education with honors levels from first-class to third-class.
  • India: Typically uses a percentage system, with variations in grading scales depending on the educational board or university.
  • Australia: Employs a combination of letter grades and terms like ‘High Distinction’ and ‘Distinction’ for higher education.
  • Canada: Similar to the US, Canada uses letter grades, but the percentage ranges corresponding to these letters can vary by province and institution.
  • China: Primarily uses a percentage system, with a pass generally considered to be 60% and above.

When considering study abroad programs or international academic applications, it’s essential to look into the specific grading criteria and conversion practices of the target institution. This table serves as a starting point for understanding how your academic achievements may translate across borders.

Special Grading Considerations

The Belgian grading system, while consistent at a national level, can exhibit variations across different states, schools, and types of education (e.g., general secondary education vs. vocational training). These nuances reflect the diverse educational landscapes and pedagogical approaches within Belgium. Understanding these variations is crucial for grasping the full picture of how grades are awarded and what they signify.

Variations Across States and School Types

Flemish Community vs. French Community

  • Flemish Community (Flanders): The education system here might use slightly different descriptors or grading nuances compared to the French Community. For instance, the emphasis on continuous assessment can vary, as can the interpretation of grades within the context of a student’s overall profile.
  • French Community (Wallonia and Brussels): Similarly, schools in the French-speaking part of Belgium might have their own grading scales that, while broadly aligning with the 0-20 system, apply different weightings to coursework, examinations, and oral presentations.

General vs. Vocational Education

  • General Education: Typically follows the standard grading scale more strictly, with a clear emphasis on academic achievements across a broad range of subjects.
  • Vocational Education: Might incorporate more nuanced assessments that consider practical skills, apprenticeships, and hands-on projects. The grading can sometimes be more flexible to accommodate the specific competencies being assessed.

Grading Practices and Teacher Discretion

Teachers in Belgium, as in many countries, have a degree of discretion in grading. This discretion allows for a more nuanced assessment of a student’s abilities, taking into account factors like improvement over time, participation, and effort. Some schools encourage teachers to use ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs to provide additional feedback on students’ performances, offering a more detailed view of where a student stands in their understanding of the material.

Handling of Failing Grades

Failing grades in Belgium are treated with a focus on support and improvement. Students who do not meet the passing criteria are often given opportunities to retake exams or complete additional assignments. There’s a strong emphasis on identifying the reasons behind the failure, whether it’s a lack of understanding of the subject matter, personal circumstances, or other factors. Schools typically have systems in place for remedial support, tutoring, or counseling to help students overcome their academic challenges.

  • Retakes and Remediation: Students may have the chance to retake exams or engage in remedial education programs designed to address gaps in knowledge and skills.
  • Continuous Assessment: In addition to final exams, continuous assessment practices help identify struggling students early on, allowing for timely intervention before final grades are determined.

Understanding these special grading considerations highlights the complexity and adaptability of the Belgian education system. It underscores the importance of contextualizing grades within the broader educational framework and recognizes the efforts to accommodate diverse learning styles and needs.


Below are some frequently asked questions about the Belgium grading system and scale, offering quick insights into common curiosities and concerns. These answers aim to provide clarity and further understanding of how grading works in Belgium.

Q: What is a passing grade in Belgium?
A: A passing grade in Belgium is typically considered to be 10 out of 20. This means that students need to score at least 50% to pass their exams or courses. However, it’s important to note that some institutions and specific courses may have slightly different requirements.

Q: Can students retake exams if they fail?
A: Yes, students in Belgium often have the opportunity to retake exams if they fail. The specifics can depend on the school or university’s policies, but generally, there is a mechanism in place to allow students to improve their grades through retakes or additional assignments.

Q: How are grades calculated in Belgium?
A: Grades in Belgium are typically calculated based on a combination of assignments, participation, projects, and exams. The exact weighting of these components can vary by course and institution. Continuous assessment throughout the academic year is also common, contributing to the final grade.

Q: Do Belgian universities accept international students with different grading systems?
A: Yes, Belgian universities are quite welcoming to international students and are familiar with converting grades from different educational systems into their own. Applicants are usually required to provide transcripts and, in some cases, undergo a grade conversion process to ensure their qualifications meet the Belgian standards.

Q: Is there grade inflation in Belgium?
A: Grade inflation, where grades progressively increase over time without a corresponding increase in knowledge or skill, is not widely reported in Belgium. The Belgian educational system maintains rigorous standards and regular assessments to ensure that grades accurately reflect students’ abilities and achievements.

Q: How do Belgian grades translate to GPA?
A: Converting Belgian grades to a GPA (Grade Point Average) used in other countries like the United States involves a conversion scale. While there’s no official universal scale, a common approach is to equate grades 18-20 as a 4.0 GPA, with a sliding scale down for lower grades. It’s essential to consult specific conversion charts or guidelines provided by educational institutions for accurate conversions.

Q: What does a grade of ‘sufficient’ mean?
A: In the Belgian grading system, a grade of ‘sufficient’ typically means that the student has met the minimum requirements to pass. It corresponds to a score of 10-11.9 out of 20. While not indicative of high achievement, it signifies that the student has achieved a basic understanding and competence in the subject matter.

These FAQs offer a glimpse into the nuances of the Belgium grading system, providing answers to common questions that students, parents, and educators might have. For more specific inquiries, it’s always best to consult directly with the educational institution in question.

Additional Resources

For those looking to dive deeper into the Belgium grading system or seeking specific guidance related to education in Belgium, here are some official sources and helpful websites. These resources can provide authoritative information and support for both domestic and international students navigating the Belgian education landscape.

  • The Belgian Federal Government Education Website: This official site offers comprehensive information on the education system in Belgium, including detailed explanations of the grading system across different levels of education. It’s an excellent starting point for understanding educational policies and practices in Belgium.
  • Flemish Ministry of Education and Training (Onderwijs Vlaanderen): This site is invaluable for those in the Flemish Community, providing resources, policy documents, and guides on the Flemish education system, including grading scales and examination regulations.
  • Wallonia-Brussels Federation Education Portal: Here, students and educators in the French-speaking community can find detailed information on the educational framework, grading system, and academic calendar, along with resources for academic support and development.
  • Eurydice Network – Belgium: Part of a broader European network, this site offers detailed reports and analyses on the Belgian education system, including grading practices. It’s useful for comparing Belgium’s system with those of other European countries.
  • Study in Belgium: Aimed at international students, this portal provides practical information on studying in Belgium, including admission requirements, scholarship opportunities, and insights into the Belgian grading system from an international perspective.

Each of these sites can provide valuable insights and detailed information on the grading system in Belgium, helping students, educators, and researchers to navigate the complexities of Belgian education. Whether you’re a domestic student seeking clarification on grading practices or an international student preparing to study in Belgium, these resources are a great place to start.