Finland Grading System

High School Grade Scale

The Finnish grading system for high secondary education (often referred to as upper secondary or high school) and higher education (colleges and universities) can be somewhat distinct, reflecting the country’s educational philosophy. Below, we present an overview of the main grading scales used, comparing Finland grades with familiar English terms, alongside the equivalent percentage ranges and GPAs where applicable. It’s important to note that in Finland, some schools might use ‘+’ or ‘-‘ to further differentiate performance within the grades, especially in the higher education context.

High School Grade Scale

Finland GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeGPA
9Very Good80-89%3.7

College Grade Scale

At the college or university level, the grading might include more granularity with the use of ‘+’ and ‘-‘ to signify slight differences in student performance. The scale below represents a general structure; individual institutions may apply variations.

Finland GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeGPA
4Very Good80-89%3.5

In some colleges or universities, you might encounter a grade like “4+” indicating a very strong performance that doesn’t quite reach the next level, or “3βˆ’” indicating the lower end of “Good”.

This system underscores Finland’s focus on both academic achievement and encouraging students to reach their personal best, rather than competing against a fixed standard or against each other. Let’s dive deeper into what each grade signifies in the Finnish educational context in the following sections.

Understanding Grades in Finland

Grades in Finland are more than just numbers or letters on a piece of paper; they represent a student’s mastery and understanding of the subject matter. Let’s break down what each grade level signifies, adding a dash of emoji flair to represent the vibe of each achievement level! πŸŽ‰

🌟 10: Excellent (Laudatur)

The crΓ¨me de la crΓ¨me of grades, a 10 or Excellent, signifies outstanding performance. Students achieving this grade have demonstrated a deep understanding of the subject matter, critical thinking, and the ability to apply knowledge in complex situations. It’s akin to achieving a gold medal in academics; these students go above and beyond the requirements. πŸ…

πŸš€ 9: Very Good (Eximia Cum Laude Approbatur)

A 9 or Very Good is indicative of a student who has shown very strong understanding and application of the subject, though there might be minor areas for improvement. These students display excellent critical thinking skills and a high level of knowledge comprehension. They’re soaring high, just shy of perfection. πŸš€

πŸ’‘ 8: Good (Magna Cum Laude Approbatur)

Securing an 8 or Good grade means a student has a solid understanding of the material and can apply their knowledge effectively. While there might be room for some refinement, the performance is commendable and shows good critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. It’s a strong indication that the student is on the right track. πŸ’‘

πŸ‘ 7: Satisfactory (Cum Laude Approbatur)

A 7 or Satisfactory reflects a reasonable but not thorough mastery of the material. These students meet the basic requirements and demonstrate an adequate understanding of the subject. It’s a nod to their effort and understanding, signaling they’re moving in the right direction but might need to dive deeper. πŸ‘

🌱 6: Fair (Lubenter Approbatur)

Earning a 6 or Fair grade indicates a basic grasp of the subject matter, with significant room for improvement. These students have reached the minimum threshold to pass but will need to strengthen their understanding and skills to progress further. It’s like a seedling that has sprouted but needs more care to grow. 🌱

🚧 5: Pass (Approbatur)

A 5 or Pass is the lowest passing grade, signaling that the student has met the minimum criteria but struggles significantly in understanding or applying the concepts. It’s a call to action for additional support and effort to overcome challenges. 🚧

❌ 4: Fail

Receiving a 4 or Fail means the student has not met the minimum requirements for passing. It’s a tough spot but serves as a crucial feedback mechanism, indicating areas where the student needs to focus and improve. It’s not the end of the road but a detour that requires hard work and determination to get back on track. ❌

Understanding these grades helps students and parents gauge performance and areas for improvement. It emphasizes growth, learning, and the importance of perseverance. Next, let’s see how these grades stack up against grading systems in other countries!

Finland Grade Comparison

Comparing grading systems across countries can be a complex task due to the differences in educational standards, evaluation criteria, and grading philosophies. However, providing a general comparison can offer valuable insights into how Finnish grades translate internationally. Below is a table that compares the Finnish grading system with those of the US, UK, India, Australia, Canada, and China. This comparison aims to give a broad understanding and should be taken as indicative rather than exact.

High School Grade Comparison

Finland GradeUS GradeUK Grade (GCSE/A-Level)India Grade (%)Australia GradeCanada GradeChina Grade (%)
10AA/A (A-Level A)90-100AA90-100
9AA/A- (A-Level A)80-89A-A-85-89
8BB (A-Level B)70-79BB75-84
7CC (A-Level C)60-69CC65-74
6DD (A-Level D)50-59DD60-64
5EE (A-Level E)45-49EE55-59
4FU (A-Level U)Below 45FFBelow 55

College/University Grade Comparison

It’s worth noting that the comparison at the higher education level may vary even more due to different grading scales used in universities around the world. However, the general idea remains similar to the high school comparison.

This table illustrates the diversity in grading practices and highlights the importance of understanding the context behind each grade. For example, a grade of “B” in Finland, reflecting “Good” performance, might be equivalent to different percentage ranges or letter grades in other countries, each with its own implications for student achievement and assessment standards.

As educational systems continue to evolve, these comparisons can serve as a guide for students, educators, and professionals navigating international education and credential recognition. Understanding these differences is crucial for academic mobility and global educational engagement.

Special Grading Considerations

The Finnish education system prides itself on flexibility and individual assessment, which means there can be variations in grading across different states, school types, and even between teachers within the same institution. Understanding these variations can help students and parents navigate the system more effectively.

Variations Across States and School Types

In Finland, education is highly decentralized, which allows local authorities and individual schools a significant degree of autonomy in how they apply the national curriculum and assessment criteria. This can lead to variations in:

  • Grading Practices: While the grading scale is consistent, the application in terms of difficulty and assessment standards can vary. Some schools may have a reputation for being more stringent in their grading, while others may take a more lenient approach.
  • Subjective Assessments: Especially in subjects like art, music, and physical education, grading can be more subjective, depending on the teacher’s assessment of the student’s effort, progress, and talent.

Teacher Variations

Even within the same school, grading can differ between teachers. Teachers are encouraged to use their professional judgment to assess students’ understanding, skills, and performance. This means that:

  • Assessment Criteria: Two teachers may prioritize different aspects of a subject or project, leading to variations in grading for similar work.
  • Feedback Styles: The type and amount of feedback provided can also vary, impacting how students perceive their performance and what they need to improve.

Handling Failing Grades

Failing grades in Finland are not seen as the end of the road but as an opportunity for growth and learning. The approach to failing grades includes:

  • Personalized Feedback: Teachers often provide detailed feedback to students who fail, outlining specific areas for improvement.
  • Opportunities for Retake: Students are usually given the chance to retake exams or resubmit projects. This is not merely about improving the grade but ensuring that the student has truly understood the material.
  • Support Systems: Schools offer various support systems, including tutoring, counseling, and personalized learning plans, to help students overcome academic challenges.

The Finnish education system’s flexibility and emphasis on individual assessment mean that there’s a broad understanding of what grades represent and how they are awarded. This system prioritizes learning and improvement over competition, fostering an environment where students are encouraged to achieve their personal best. Understanding these nuances is key to navigating the Finnish educational landscape successfully.


Below are some frequently asked questions about the Finland grading system and scale, providing quick and helpful insights into how grading works in Finnish educational settings.

What does a grade of 10 mean in Finland?

  • A grade of 10 is the highest grade in the Finnish grading system, indicating exceptional performance with a deep understanding and mastery of the subject matter. It reflects excellence in every aspect of the course requirements.

Is it common to receive a grade of 10?

  • Receiving a grade of 10 is quite challenging and signifies outstanding achievement. It is not very common, as it requires exceptional work, deep understanding, and often going beyond the standard course requirements.

How are grades awarded in Finland?

  • Grades in Finland are awarded based on a combination of assignments, projects, exams, and class participation, depending on the subject and level of education. Teachers assess students’ performance against the learning objectives of the course, considering both knowledge and skills.

Can students improve their grades in Finland?

  • Yes, students have opportunities to improve their grades in Finland. This can be through retaking exams, resubmitting assignments, or completing extra work, depending on the teacher’s guidelines and the specific circumstances.

How do Finnish universities look at high school grades for admissions?

  • Finnish universities consider high school grades as part of the admissions process, but the importance varies by program and university. Some programs may require entrance exams or interviews, where high school grades are just one factor among many in the evaluation process.

What happens if a student fails a course in Finland?

  • If a student fails a course, they typically have the opportunity to retake exams or complete additional assignments to achieve a passing grade. The focus is on learning and mastery of the subject, so support is provided to help the student improve.

Are there significant differences in grading among Finnish schools?

  • While the grading scale is consistent across Finland, there can be differences in grading practices among schools and teachers, influenced by local policies, individual assessment approaches, and the subjectivity of certain subjects. However, the overall educational philosophy remains focused on individual progress and understanding.

These FAQs aim to clarify common queries about the Finnish grading system, highlighting its focus on individual achievement, learning, and improvement.

Additional Resources

For those interested in exploring more about the Finnish grading system or seeking official information, several resources can provide valuable insights and detailed guidance. Below is a list of recommended websites, mainly from .edu and .gov domains in Finland, offering a wealth of information on education standards, grading practices, and more:

  • Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI):
  • EDUFI provides comprehensive information on the Finnish education system, including curricula, grading scales, and educational policies. It’s an excellent starting point for understanding Finland’s approach to education.
  • Study in Finland:
  • This portal offers detailed information for international students, including explanations of the Finnish grading system, how to apply for higher education, and what life is like studying in Finland.
  • University of Helsinki:
  • As one of the leading universities in Finland, the University of Helsinki provides insights into admission requirements, including how grades are considered, and details about the Finnish higher education grading system.
  • CIMO (Centre for International Mobility):
  • CIMO is a resource for international exchange and mobility in education. It offers information on scholarships, study opportunities, and the Finnish educational context, which can be useful for those looking to study in Finland or understand its grading system better.

These resources are invaluable for students, educators, and anyone interested in the specifics of the Finnish educational system. They provide a deeper understanding of how grading works in Finland and offer guidance for navigating the academic landscape, whether for studying in Finland or engaging in academic collaborations.