German Grading System

High School Grade Scale

In German high schools, the grading system typically ranges from 1 to 6, with 1 being the highest grade and 6 the lowest. This system is used to assess students’ performance in their subjects. The table below outlines the main grade scales used in German high schools, their comparable English terms, and the equivalent percentage range and GPA.

Germany GradesTerms in EnglishEquivalent Percentage RangeEquivalent GPA
1Very Good90-100%4.0
6Very Poor0-29%0.0

Variations such as ‘+’ and ‘-‘ are sometimes used within certain schools to provide a more detailed assessment. For example, a grade of “2-” might be used to indicate a performance that is slightly less than “Good” but better than “Satisfactory”.

College Grade Scale

At the college or university level, the grading system in Germany is similar but is often considered more stringent, with a greater focus on the higher end of the scale for passing grades. Here’s how the grades translate:

Germany GradesTerms in EnglishEquivalent Percentage RangeEquivalent GPA
1.0Very Good90-100%4.0

In this system, anything below a 4.0 is considered a failing grade. Like in high schools, colleges and universities sometimes use ‘+’ and ‘-‘ to indicate nuance within these grades, although this practice varies by institution. Additionally, some courses may use a pass/fail system or a different scale for specific types of assessments.

Understanding Grades in Germany

๐ŸŒŸ 1.0 – Very Good (Sehr Gut)

A grade of 1.0 represents excellence in performance. It’s awarded to students who exceed all expectations with minimal errors. This grade indicates a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter, the ability to apply knowledge in new ways, and exceptional skill in analysis and synthesis. Students achieving this grade have demonstrated mastery over the course content.

โœจ 1.3 to 2.0 – Good (Gut)

Grades in this range are considered “Good” and are indicative of a strong grasp of the subject matter. Students with these grades have shown a high level of understanding and ability, but may not have reached the pinnacle of excellence in every aspect of their work. They are capable of applying their knowledge effectively, with only minor mistakes.


This grade signifies performance that is slightly below excellent but significantly above average. It reflects a high level of competency and understanding, with very few errors.

1.7 to 2.0

These grades are given to students who demonstrate a solid understanding and good application of the material but may lack the consistency or depth seen in higher grades. These students perform well in most areas but might have gaps in their knowledge.

๐Ÿ“˜ 2.3 to 3.0 – Satisfactory (Befriedigend)

A “Satisfactory” grade is awarded to students who meet the basic requirements of the course. They understand the essential concepts and can apply their knowledge in a standard way. However, their work may lack depth, and there may be noticeable errors or omissions.

2.3 to 2.7

These grades indicate a reasonable understanding of the subject. Students can handle familiar problems well but might struggle with more complex or unfamiliar challenges. They show an adequate level of performance but with room for improvement.


This grade marks the lower boundary of satisfactory performance. It signifies that the student has a basic grasp of the subject matter but with significant shortcomings in understanding or application.

๐Ÿ“’ 3.3 to 4.0 – Sufficient (Ausreichend)

Grades in this range indicate that the student has achieved the minimum requirements to pass. The understanding of the subject is limited, and the application of knowledge is often flawed or incomplete. These grades reflect a just-adequate performance, with considerable room for improvement.

3.3 to 3.7

These grades show that the student has managed to grasp enough of the course content to move past the failing mark, but just barely. The work is often characterized by a superficial understanding and significant errors.


This is the lowest passing grade in the German grading system. It signifies that the student has met the very minimum criteria for passing but with notable deficiencies in knowledge and understanding.

๐Ÿšซ 5.0 – Fail (Nicht Ausreichend)

A grade of 5.0 means the student has not met the minimum criteria required to pass. It indicates a significant lack of understanding of the basic principles of the subject. Students receiving this grade have not demonstrated the necessary skills or knowledge proficiency in their coursework or examinations.

Receiving a 5.0 requires re-evaluation of the subject matter, additional study, and possibly retaking the course or exam. It’s a clear indication that significant improvement is needed for the student to progress in their academic or professional journey.

Each of these grades serves as a marker of student achievement and provides feedback for both students and educators on areas of strength and those requiring improvement. Understanding the nuances behind these grades can help students focus their efforts more effectively and strive for excellence in their academic pursuits.

Grade Comparison

Comparing grading systems across different countries can be challenging due to the variety of scales and criteria used. However, the following table offers a general comparison between Germany’s grading system and those of the US, UK, India, Australia, Canada, and China. This comparison aims to provide a rough equivalence between the grades, keeping in mind that each country’s educational assessment standards and practices can vary significantly.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany vs. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ US

Germany GradesUS Grades

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany vs. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK

Germany GradesUK Grades (Undergraduate)
1.0First-class Honours (1st)
2.0Upper Second-class Honours (2:1)
3.0Lower Second-class Honours (2:2)
4.0Third-class Honours (3rd)

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany vs. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India

Germany GradesIndia Grades
1.060% and above (First Division)
2.050-59% (Second Division)
3.040-49% (Third Division)
4.0Pass Class

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany vs. ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia

Germany GradesAustralia Grades
1.0High Distinction (HD)
2.0Distinction (D)
3.0Credit (C)
4.0Pass (P)
5.0Fail (F)

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany vs. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada

Germany GradesCanada Grades

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany vs. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China

Germany GradesChina Grades
1.085-100 (Excellent)
2.075-84 (Good)
3.060-74 (Pass)
4.050-59 (Barely Pass)
5.0Below 50 (Fail)

Please note, this table provides a simplified comparison and may not fully capture the nuances of each grading system. For instance, the percentage ranges and qualitative assessments can vary within each country based on the institution and specific program of study. Additionally, the conversion between grading systems is not always direct or linear, and sometimes requires a more nuanced understanding of the educational context.

Special Grading Considerations

The German education system is decentralized, meaning that there are variations in grading practices across different states (Lรคnder) and types of schools. These differences reflect the autonomy of regions and institutions in tailoring their educational approaches to meet local needs and standards.

Variations Across States

Germany is made up of 16 federal states, each with its own Ministry of Education responsible for schooling within its territory. As a result, while the grading scale from 1 to 6 is used universally, the interpretation of these grades, the weight of coursework versus exams, and the specifics of grading practices can vary.

  • Coursework vs. Exams: Some states may place more emphasis on continuous assessment and coursework, while others might prioritize final exams.
  • Project Work: The importance and grading of project work can also differ, with some states and schools incorporating projects more significantly into the final grade.
  • Oral Exams: The role of oral exams and their impact on final grades can vary. In some states, oral proficiency and presentations might be given more weight.

Variations Across School Types

Germany has several types of schools at the secondary level, including Gymnasium, Realschule, and Hauptschule, each serving different academic and vocational focuses. These school types can have distinct grading practices:

  • Gymnasium: Typically more academically oriented, Gymnasiums might have stricter grading standards, especially since they prepare students for university.
  • Realschule and Hauptschule: These schools may have different focuses, with Realschules preparing students for middle-level careers and Hauptschules for vocational training. The grading might be more lenient or practical skills-oriented.

Grading Practices and Teacher Discretion

Teachers in Germany have a degree of discretion in how they grade, which can lead to variations even within the same school. Factors such as class participation, effort, and improvement over time can influence grades, especially in subjects where assessment is more subjective.

  • Subjectivity in Humanities: In subjects like literature or history, teachers might have more flexibility in grading discussions, essays, and interpretations.
  • STEM Objectivity: In STEM subjects, where answers are often more right or wrong, there might be less variation, but teachers can still consider effort and improvement.

Handling Failing Grades

The approach to failing grades can differ based on the level of education and the specific policies of each state or school. Generally, students are given opportunities to improve their grades through additional assignments, oral exams, or retaking tests.

  • Remedial Support: Students who are struggling may receive extra help or tutoring.
  • Repeating the Year: In some cases, students may have to repeat the year if they fail multiple subjects or cannot make up the deficit through remediation.
  • Graduation Requirements: For students in Gymnasium or those preparing for university, there are often specific requirements for passing core subjects. Failing these subjects might require special exams or projects to demonstrate competence.

These variations underscore the importance of understanding the specific context and requirements of each state and school type in Germany. Despite these differences, the overarching goal remains to provide a comprehensive and fair assessment of student abilities and to prepare them for their future academic and vocational pursuits.


What grade is 70% in Germany?In the German grading system, 70% typically falls into the “Satisfactory” category, equivalent to a grade of 2.7 to 3.3.
What is a GPA of 3.0 in Germany?A GPA of 3.0 in Germany corresponds to a “Satisfactory” performance, indicating an average grade of about 3.0, which is comparable to a “C” in the US system.
How does the German grading system work?The German grading system ranges from 1 (Very Good) to 6 (Fail), with grades below 4 considered passing. The system assesses studentsโ€™ academic performance based on exams, coursework, and participation.
Can you convert German grades to the US system?Yes, German grades can be converted to the US grading system, though it requires consideration of the differences in educational standards and practices. A grade of 1.0 in Germany is roughly equivalent to an “A” in the US, and so on.
What happens if you get a 5.0 in Germany?A grade of 5.0 is considered failing. Students may need to retake exams or courses, or receive additional tutoring to improve. In some cases, students may have to repeat the year.
Is a 2.0 in Germany considered good?Yes, a 2.0 in Germany is considered “Good” and reflects a strong understanding and ability in the subject matter, similar to a “B” in the US grading system.
How is a studentโ€™s final grade calculated in Germany?A studentโ€™s final grade in Germany is typically calculated based on a combination of exam scores, coursework, class participation, and sometimes oral exams, with specific weights varying by school and state.
Are there standardized tests in Germany?Yes, there are standardized tests in Germany, especially at key educational stages like the Abitur exams at the end of Gymnasium, which are crucial for university admission. However, the emphasis on standardized testing may vary by state and school type.
  1. Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) –
    • The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Lรคnder in the Federal Republic of Germany. This site offers comprehensive details on the German education system, including grading practices across different states.
  2. Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) –
    • The German Academic Exchange Service provides information on higher education in Germany, including grading scales at universities and advice for international students on converting grades.
  3. Bundesministerium fรผr Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) –
    • The Federal Ministry of Education and Research site contains information on the education system, policies, and initiatives in Germany, offering insights into grading standards and educational quality assurance.
  4. Anabin Database –
    • Part of the KMK, this database helps understand the equivalence and recognition of foreign educational qualifications in Germany, including grade conversions.
  5. Educational Authorities of the Lรคnder
    • Each of the 16 federal states in Germany has its own Ministry of Education website, which provides specific information on local grading systems, school types, and educational standards. The URLs for these can typically be found by searching for the state’s name followed by “Ministry of Education” in German (e.g., “Bayerisches Staatsministerium fรผr Unterricht und Kultus” for Bavaria).

When searching for information on grades in Germany, these sites can provide authoritative and up-to-date insights. They are invaluable resources for students, parents, educators, and international scholars looking to understand or navigate the German educational landscape.