Portugal Grading System

High School Grade Scale

In Portugal, high school (or secondary education) employs a grading system that ranges from 0 to 20, with 20 being the highest achievable grade and 0 the lowest. This system is used to assess students’ performance in their academic subjects. Here’s a breakdown of the Portugal grades, their comparable English terms, the equivalent percentage range, and GPA for high school students. Note that some schools might use variations like ‘+’ and ‘-‘ to further distinguish performance within these grades.

Portugal GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeGPA
16-17.9Very Good80-89%3.5-3.9

College Grade Scale

At the college or university level in Portugal, the grading system follows the same numerical scale from 0 to 20 as in high schools. However, the interpretation of these grades can be slightly different based on the higher education institution’s standards. Below is a general guide to understanding these grades at the tertiary education level, along with their approximate English equivalents and corresponding percentage ranges and GPA values.

Portugal GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeGPA
16-17.9Very Good80-89%3.5-3.9

It’s important to note that in Portugal, both at the high school and college levels, a grade of 10 or above is typically required to pass a course. Variations such as ‘+’ and ‘-‘ symbols may be used by certain institutions to provide a more nuanced assessment of students’ performances, although this practice is not universally applied.

Keep in mind that the grading system can vary slightly from school to school and between different universities, but the above tables offer a general framework to understand how grades are assigned in Portuguese educational institutions.

Understanding Grades in Portugal

The grading system in Portugal, ranging from 0 to 20, serves as a comprehensive method to assess student performance across different levels of education. Each grade corresponds to a specific level of achievement, from “Insufficient” to “Excellent.” Let’s dive deeper into what each grade signifies.

🌟 18-20: Excellent

Grades within the 18-20 range are considered excellent. This denotes outstanding performance, demonstrating a high level of understanding, application, and mastery of the subject matter. Students achieving these grades have not only met the learning objectives but have also gone above and beyond in their comprehension and application of knowledge.

📚 16-17.9: Very Good

A “Very Good” grade indicates a strong grasp of the course material, with minor areas for improvement. Students with grades in the 16-17.9 range have shown a high level of competence and understanding in their subjects. They’ve effectively mastered the curriculum, though not to the extent of those in the “Excellent” category.

👍 14-15.9: Good

Grades between 14 and 15.9 reflect a “Good” performance. This suggests that students have a solid understanding of the main concepts and can apply their knowledge adequately. There might be some areas that require further improvement, but overall, the performance is more than satisfactory.

✔️ 10-13.9: Satisfactory

A “Satisfactory” grade, ranging from 10 to 13.9, indicates that the student has met the basic requirements of the course. While there may be significant room for improvement, students at this level have demonstrated enough understanding to progress. It suggests a grasp of the essential concepts, though the application and depth of knowledge might be limited.

❌ 0-9.9: Insufficient

An “Insufficient” grade signifies that the student has not met the required standards. Scoring between 0 and 9.9, these grades point to a lack of understanding or failure to apply the course material adequately. Students receiving grades in this range may need to retake the course or undergo additional study to reach the necessary proficiency level.

Understanding the significance of each grade helps students, parents, and educators set realistic expectations and goals. In Portugal’s education system, where the emphasis is on a detailed and rigorous assessment of student performance, knowing what each grade represents is crucial for academic planning and success.

Portugal Grade Comparison

Comparing Portugal’s grading system to those of other countries can help students, educators, and institutions understand academic achievement across different educational contexts. Below is a table that compares Portugal grades with the grading systems of the US, UK, India, Australia, Canada, and China. This comparison aims to provide a rough equivalence, though exact matches may vary due to differences in assessment and grading practices.

Portugal GradesUS GradesUK ClassificationsIndia PercentageAustralia GradesCanada GradesChina Grades
18-20AFirst-class Honours75-100%High DistinctionA+85-100%
16-17.9A- to B+Upper Second-class Honours (2:1)65-74%DistinctionA75-84%
14-15.9B to B-Lower Second-class Honours (2:2)55-64%CreditB65-74%
10-13.9C to DThird-class Honours40-54%PassC to D60-64%
0-9.9FFailBelow 40%FailFBelow 60%

Understanding the Table

  • US Grades: The US typically uses a letter grading system with plusses and minuses to denote higher and lower achievement within a letter grade.
  • UK Classifications: The UK university system usually categorizes degrees into classes, with First-class Honours being the highest.
  • India Percentage: Indian educational institutions often use a percentage system, with 75% and above considered excellent.
  • Australia Grades: Australia employs a variety of grading scales, but High Distinction to Pass is a common range in higher education.
  • Canada Grades: Similar to the US, Canada uses letter grades, but there are variations in the grading scale between provinces and institutions.
  • China Grades: China’s grading system typically uses a percentage scale, with 60% being the passing mark.

This table provides a general guide to how grades from Portugal might be viewed or converted into the grading systems of other countries. However, actual grade conversion can depend on specific institutional policies and should be done with careful consideration of context and academic standards.

Special Grading Considerations

The Portuguese educational system, while consistent in its use of the 0 to 20 grading scale, does exhibit some variations across different states, school types, and even between individual teachers. These differences can influence how grades are awarded and interpreted. Understanding these nuances is essential for a comprehensive grasp of the grading practices in Portugal.

Variations Across States and School Types

  • Public vs. Private Institutions: Grading standards can vary significantly between public and private schools, with private institutions sometimes perceived as having more rigorous grading criteria.
  • Vocational vs. Academic Tracks: Students in vocational education programs may experience a different grading emphasis, with practical skills often holding more weight than theoretical knowledge in their final assessments.

Teacher Discretion

  • Subjectivity in Grading: While the grading scale is standardized, teachers have a degree of discretion in how they assign grades. This can result in variations in grading practices, with some teachers being known for their strictness, while others may grade more leniently.
  • Feedback and Continuous Assessment: Some educators place a strong emphasis on continuous assessment and feedback, allowing students to improve their grades through consistent performance and improvement over the course of the school year.

Handling Failing Grades

  • Remediation and Retakes: Students receiving grades below 10, considered insufficient or failing, may have opportunities to retake exams or complete additional assignments to improve their scores.
  • Support Systems: Schools often have support systems in place, such as tutoring or extra classes, to help students struggling with the material, aiming to reduce the occurrence of failing grades.

Considerations for International and Exchange Students

  • Grade Conversion: For international and exchange students, understanding the local grading culture is crucial. These students should consult with academic advisors to accurately convert their grades to and from the Portuguese system, taking into consideration the variations that might affect their academic records.

Understanding these special grading considerations highlights the complexity of the educational landscape in Portugal. It underscores the importance of context when evaluating academic performance and emphasizes the personalized nature of education within the country. This knowledge can empower students, parents, and educators to navigate the system more effectively, fostering a supportive and understanding academic environment.


Q: What is the passing grade in Portuguese schools?
A: The minimum passing grade in Portuguese educational institutions is 10 out of 20. Achieving a grade of 10 or above is considered satisfactory and indicates that the student has met the basic requirements of the course or subject.

Q: Can students retake exams if they fail?
A: Yes, students who do not achieve the minimum passing grade have the opportunity to retake exams or complete additional assignments to improve their scores. The specific policies regarding retakes and remediation efforts can vary by school and level of education.

Q: How are grades converted for international students?
A: Grade conversion for international students is typically handled by the academic institution they are attending or applying to. Each institution may use different criteria for converting grades, so it’s important for students to consult with academic advisors or the admissions office for accurate conversion.

Q: Do Portuguese universities use the same grading scale as schools?
A: Yes, Portuguese universities generally use the same 0 to 20 grading scale as secondary schools. However, the interpretation of these grades can be more stringent at the university level, with higher expectations for achieving top marks.

Q: How does the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ system work in Portugal?
A: While the primary grading scale in Portugal does not officially include ‘+’ or ‘-‘ signs, some schools and teachers may use these unofficially to provide more nuanced feedback. For example, a “14-” might indicate a solid but not exceptional performance, while a “14+” could signify that the student is performing at the higher end of the “Good” category.

Q: Are grading practices the same across all subjects?
A: Grading practices can vary by subject, especially in terms of how much weight is given to different types of assessments (e.g., written exams, oral presentations, project work). Teachers have some discretion in determining these weights, leading to variations in grading practices across subjects.

Q: Is there extra support available for students who struggle academically?
A: Many schools offer extra support for students who are struggling academically, including tutoring, extra classes, and study groups. The availability of these resources can vary, so it’s advisable for students and parents to inquire directly with their school about available support services.

Additional Resources

To further explore the grading system in Portugal and seek official guidelines or support, here are some valuable resources:

  1. Direção-Geral da Educação (DGE): The official website for Portugal’s Directorate-General for Education provides comprehensive information on educational policies, including grading systems. It’s a crucial resource for understanding the framework within which Portuguese schools operate. Website: dge.mec.pt
  2. Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior (A3ES): This agency is responsible for the assessment and accreditation of higher education institutions in Portugal. Their website offers insights into how university courses are evaluated, which can be useful for understanding grading at the tertiary level. Website: a3es.pt
  3. Instituto de Avaliação Educativa (IAVE): IAVE is the Institute for Educational Assessment in Portugal, focusing on the development and implementation of evaluation and examination systems. Their resources can be particularly valuable for students and educators looking to understand standardized testing and grading criteria. Website: iave.pt

These websites can serve as a starting point for anyone looking to dive deeper into the Portuguese educational system, whether you’re a student, parent, educator, or academic researcher. They offer official information and guidance on a range of topics related to schooling, grading, and educational standards in Portugal.