Estonia Grading System

High School Grade Scale

In Estonia, the grading system for high school (secondary education) typically ranges from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score and 1 the lowest. This scale is somewhat similar to other European countries, and variations such as ‘+’ or ‘-‘ may occur in certain schools to indicate slightly higher or lower achievement within the same grade level. Here’s a breakdown:

Estonia GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeGPA (on a 4.0 scale)
4Very Good76-90%3.0
1Poor / Fail0-50%0.0

College Grade Scale

At the college or university level, Estonia often uses a more detailed scale, ranging from A to F, where A represents the highest achievement and F signifies failure. This system aligns more closely with international standards, allowing for easier comparison across countries. Variations such as ‘+’ and ‘-‘ can further distinguish performance within a grade category.

Estonia GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeGPA (on a 4.0 scale)
BVery Good81-90%3.5

It’s important to note that some universities and programs might have slight variations or additional criteria for grading, including the use of ‘+’ and ‘-‘ to further specify performance within these ranges. These distinctions can play a crucial role in student evaluations and are considered by teachers when assigning final grades.

Understanding Grades in Estonia

Grades in Estonia serve not just as a measure of academic performance but also as feedback to guide students’ learning processes. Let’s dive into what each grade symbolizes and the expectations behind them.

🌟 5 – Excellent (A)

  • Symbolism: Achieving a grade of 5 or an ‘A’ signifies excellence. It means the student has demonstrated outstanding understanding and application of the subject matter.
  • Expectations: Students are expected to have a thorough comprehension of the material, the ability to apply knowledge in new situations, and to think critically and independently.

πŸ“š 4 – Very Good (B)

  • Symbolism: A grade of 4 or a ‘B’ reflects a very good performance. It indicates that the student has a strong grasp of the content with minor mistakes or misunderstandings.
  • Expectations: Students should show good understanding and application skills, with occasional support needed to achieve excellence.

πŸ‘ 3 – Good (C)

  • Symbolism: Receiving a 3 or a ‘C’ is considered good. This grade suggests a satisfactory level of understanding with room for improvement.
  • Expectations: The expectation here is a basic understanding of the subject with a moderate ability to apply concepts. Students might require further clarification on more complex topics.

βœ”οΈ 2 – Satisfactory (D)

  • Symbolism: A grade of 2 or a ‘D’ denotes a satisfactory performance, meeting the minimum criteria but with significant areas for enhancement.
  • Expectations: Students with this grade have a foundational understanding of the subject but struggle with applying knowledge in practice. Improvement is needed for a deeper comprehension.

❌ 1 – Poor / Fail (F)

  • Symbolism: A grade of 1 or an ‘F’ indicates a failure to meet the basic educational standards.
  • Expectations: This grade points to a significant lack of understanding or inability to apply basic concepts. It suggests that the student needs to revisit the material or seek additional help.

Understanding these grades helps students, parents, and educators gauge performance levels and identify areas for improvement. It’s a holistic approach that values not just the outcome but the learning journey, aiming to foster a supportive and constructive educational environment.

Estonia Grade Comparison

Comparing grading systems across countries can be quite complex due to different educational standards, practices, and expectations. However, to give a broad understanding, here’s how Estonian grades might translate to those used in the US, UK, India, Australia, Canada, and China. This comparison is meant to provide a general perspective and may vary depending on specific institutions and contexts.

High School Grades

5AA (or A*)A1AAA (90-100)
4BBA2BBB (80-89)
3CCB1CCC (70-79)
2DDB2DDD (60-69)
1FE/U (Fail)C1/C2/D/E/U (Fail)F (Fail)F (Fail)F (<60, Fail)

College Grades

AAFirst-class HonoursO (10)HD (High Distinction)AA (85-100)
BA-/B+Upper Second-class Honours (2:1)A+ (9)D (Distinction)A-/B+A-/B+ (75-84)
CBLower Second-class Honours (2:2)A (8)C (Credit)BB (65-74)
DCThird-class HonoursB+ (7)P (Pass)CC (60-64)
EDOrdinary degreeB (6)P- (Pass Conceded)DD (50-59)
FFFailFN (Fail)FF (<50, Fail)

This table aims to provide an equivalence of grades among different education systems, reflecting both the achievement level and the corresponding grade in each country. It’s important to remember that direct comparisons might not fully capture the nuances of each system, especially when considering the varying criteria for grade assignment and the impact of cultural differences on grading practices.

Special Grading Considerations:

The Estonian educational system, like any other, has its nuances and variations across different regions, schools, and types of educational institutions. These variations can influence how grades are assigned and interpreted.

Variations Across Schools and Regions

In Estonia, while the grading system remains relatively consistent, the interpretation and application of grades can vary. For example:

  • Rural vs. Urban Schools: Urban schools might have access to more resources and thus could set higher expectations for achieving top grades. Conversely, rural schools, while following the same grading system, might apply it differently based on local educational standards and resources.
  • Language of Instruction: Schools teaching in Estonian vs. those teaching in Russian or other languages might exhibit slight differences in grading tendencies, often influenced by cultural and pedagogical approaches.

Teacher Discretion

Teachers in Estonia, as elsewhere, have a certain degree of discretion in assigning grades. This discretion allows for:

  • Subjectivity in Interpretation: Teachers may place different weights on various aspects of performance, such as class participation, homework, and exam results.
  • Adjustments for Difficulty: Teachers might adjust grades based on the perceived difficulty of the material or to reflect improvement over time.

Handling Failing Grades

Failing grades in Estonia are taken seriously, with multiple support mechanisms in place to help students improve:

  • Remedial Classes: Students struggling academically may be offered additional classes or tutoring to help them catch up.
  • Re-examination Opportunities: Students receiving failing grades often have the chance to retake exams or complete additional assignments to improve their scores.
  • Personalized Feedback: Teachers provide detailed feedback to students who fail, highlighting areas for improvement and strategies to address weaknesses.

Grading Practices

Grading practices can also vary depending on the type of educational institution:

  • Vocational vs. Academic Schools: Vocational schools might emphasize practical skills and assessments, leading to a different grading focus compared to more academically oriented high schools.
  • Higher Education Institutions: Universities and colleges may employ a more rigorous grading system, with greater emphasis on research and independent work.

Understanding these special considerations is crucial for students, parents, and educators to navigate the Estonian educational system effectively. It highlights the importance of context, support, and continuous improvement in the educational journey.


Q: What is the highest grade in the Estonian grading system?
A: The highest grade in the Estonian grading system for high schools is 5, representing “Excellent,” and at the university level, it’s an ‘A’, also indicating excellence.

Q: Can students retake exams if they fail?
A: Yes, students in Estonia typically have the opportunity to retake exams or complete additional assignments to improve their grades if they initially fail.

Q: How do ‘+’ and ‘-‘ grades affect my overall score?
A: While ‘+’ and ‘-‘ can indicate slightly better or worse performance within a grade category, not all schools or universities use these markers. When they are used, they can slightly affect the GPA or serve as qualitative feedback rather than having a significant impact on the overall grade.

Q: Are grading standards the same across all schools in Estonia?
A: While the grading scale is standardized, the application and interpretation of grades can vary by school, region, and teacher. Factors such as school resources, student demographics, and educational focus (e.g., vocational vs. academic) can influence grading practices.

Q: How is academic performance measured at universities in Estonia?
A: Academic performance at Estonian universities is generally measured using a combination of coursework, exams, research projects, and, in some cases, practical assessments. Grades range from ‘A’ (excellent) to ‘F’ (fail), similar to the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) grading scale.

Q: What resources are available for students struggling academically?
A: Schools and universities in Estonia offer various resources for students facing academic challenges, including tutoring, remedial classes, counseling services, and personalized feedback from teachers or professors.

Q: How does Estonia’s grading system compare with those of other countries?
A: Estonia’s grading system, particularly at the university level, is designed to be compatible with international standards, such as the ECTS scale, making it somewhat easier to compare with grading systems in the US, UK, and other European countries. However, direct comparisons should consider differences in educational culture and assessment methods.

Additional Resources

For those interested in exploring more about the Estonian grading system or seeking specific guidelines, here are some official and helpful websites:

  1. Estonian Ministry of Education and Research ( This is the primary source for educational policies, regulations, and updates in Estonia. It provides comprehensive information on the Estonian educational system, grading scales, and reforms.
  2. Estonian Educational Information System ( EHIS is a database that encompasses all levels of education in Estonia. It offers detailed data on institutions, educational standards, and grading practices across the country.
  3. Study in Estonia ( A great resource for international students considering Estonia for higher education. The site covers everything from application processes to grading systems at Estonian universities.
  4. Archimedes Foundation ( This foundation supports education and research in Estonia. It provides information on the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and how it applies within Estonia, making it easier for international students to understand their grades.
  5. Estonian Qualifications Authority ( While focused more on vocational and professional education, this site offers insights into competency-based assessments and qualifications, complementing the understanding of academic grading.

These resources can provide students, educators, and researchers with valuable insights into the Estonian educational landscape, offering official information on grading systems, academic standards, and educational opportunities.