Switzerland Grading System

Switzerland’s educational grading system is unique and can vary significantly from the grading scales used in other countries. Here, we’ll explore the main grade scales used in Switzerland for high school (secondary education) and higher education (college/university level), including variations like ‘+’ and ‘-‘ within certain schools, and if applicable, list multiple grading scales.

High School Grade Scale

In Switzerland, high schools (secondary education) typically use a grading scale from 1 to 6, where 6 is the highest score and 1 is the lowest. Here’s a table that compares Switzerland grades with terms, equivalent percentages, and GPA commonly used in English-speaking countries:

Switzerland GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeEquivalent GPA
5.5Very Good80-89%3.5-3.9
3.5 and belowInsufficient/FailBelow 50%Below 2.0

College Grade Scale

At the college/university level, Switzerland institutions may use the same 1 to 6 scale, but the application and interpretation can vary, especially in higher education where the grading might also include half points (e.g., 5.5, 4.5).

Switzerland GradesComparable English TermsEquivalent Percentage RangeEquivalent GPA
5.5Very Good80-89%3.5-3.9
3.5 and belowInsufficient/FailBelow 50%Below 2.0

In some schools and programs, ‘+’ and ‘-‘ grades might be used to provide a more nuanced evaluation. For example, a “5+” could indicate a strong performance in the “Good” category, verging on “Very Good”, while a “5-” might indicate a performance that is just barely in the “Good” category. However, not all institutions adopt this practice, and it’s important to understand the specific grading policies of each school or program.

The Swiss grading system emphasizes precision in assessment, and the scales provide a detailed reflection of a student’s performance. Keep in mind that the conversion to percentage ranges and GPA is approximate and can vary depending on the institution, especially when applying for international programs or transferring credits.

Let’s move on to the next part of our guide, where we will dive deeper into what each grade means in the Swiss educational system.

Understanding Grades in Switzerland

Diving deeper into the Swiss grading system, let’s explore what each grade signifies about a student’s performance, capturing the essence of their academic achievements. This part of our guide aims to shed light on the qualitative aspects behind the numbers, providing insights into what educators in Switzerland consider when assigning these grades.

🌟 6: Excellent

A grade of 6 in Switzerland’s education system is the highest possible achievement. It indicates exceptional performance, demonstrating a deep understanding of the subject matter, the ability to think critically and apply knowledge in complex situations, and often going above and beyond the required standards. A student receiving a 6 has mastered the course content to the fullest.

🏅 5.5: Very Good

A 5.5 signifies very good performance, reflecting a strong grasp of the material, with few minor errors. Students at this level show excellent analytical skills and the ability to synthesize and apply their knowledge effectively. It’s a sign of high achievement, just a step below perfect.

👍 5: Good

Receiving a 5 means the student has a good understanding of the core content, with some areas of strength and perhaps a few weaknesses. These students can apply their knowledge in familiar contexts and demonstrate solid academic skills. It’s a commendable grade, indicating satisfactory performance above the average.

👌 4.5: Satisfactory

A grade of 4.5 is considered satisfactory, indicating that the student has met the basic requirements and understands the majority of the material but may struggle with more complex concepts or applications. This grade suggests room for improvement but a good foundation to build upon.

✔️ 4: Sufficient

The grade of 4 is the minimum passing mark in the Swiss system, denoting sufficient understanding and achievement. It signifies that the student has grasped the essential aspects of the subject but has notable gaps in knowledge and application. A 4 is a clear signal that additional effort is needed to overcome weaknesses.

❌ 3.5 and below: Insufficient/Fail

Grades of 3.5 and below are considered failing marks, indicating insufficient understanding of the subject matter. These grades reflect significant gaps in knowledge and the inability to meet the course requirements. For students, receiving a grade in this range is a call to action for additional study, support, and focus to improve their understanding and performance.

The Swiss grading system, with its emphasis on precision, provides clear feedback on a student’s performance, offering a pathway for academic development and success. Understanding the nuances behind each grade can help students and parents alike to better comprehend academic standings and set goals for improvement.

Stay tuned for our next section, where we’ll compare Switzerland grades with other international grading systems, offering a broader perspective on how Swiss academic achievements translate globally.

Switzerland Grade Comparison

In this section, we offer a comprehensive comparison between the Swiss grading system and those of other key educational systems around the world, such as the United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia, Canada, and China. This comparison aims to provide a clearer understanding of how Swiss grades translate into other national contexts, which can be particularly useful for international students, educators, and anyone involved in academic exchanges.

🇨🇭 Switzerland to 🇺🇸 United States

Switzerland GradesUS GradeUS GPA
3.5 and belowF0.0

🇨🇭 Switzerland to 🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Switzerland GradesUK Grade
5.5Upper Second
5Lower Second
4.5Third Class
3.5 and belowFail

🇨🇭 Switzerland to 🇮🇳 India

Switzerland GradesIndia PercentageIndia Division
690-100%First Division
5.575-89%First Division
560-74%First Division
4.550-59%Second Division
3.5 and belowBelow 40%Fail

🇨🇭 Switzerland to 🇦🇺 Australia

Switzerland GradesAustralia GradeAustralia GPA
6High Distinction7.0
3.5 and belowFail0.0

🇨🇭 Switzerland to 🇨🇦 Canada

Switzerland GradesCanada Letter GradeCanada GPA
3.5 and belowF0.0

🇨🇭 Switzerland to 🇨🇳 China

Switzerland GradesChina PercentageChina Grade
690-100%A (Excellent)
5.580-89%B (Good)
570-79%C (Fair)
4.560-69%D (Pass)
450-59%E (Pass)
3.5 and belowBelow 50%F (Fail)

This comparison table serves as a general guide to understanding how academic performance in Switzerland might be viewed in the context of other educational systems. However, it’s important to note that these equivalencies can vary by institution and country, especially when it comes to the conversion of grades for admissions or credit transfers. Always check with the specific institution for their grading conversion policies.

Next, we’ll discuss variations across states and school types in Switzerland, and delve into how different grading practices and policies might impact academic assessment and progression.

Special Grading Considerations

In Switzerland, as in many countries, the grading system is not a one-size-fits-all model. There are notable variations across different cantons (states), types of schools, and even between individual teachers within the same institution. These differences can influence how grades are assigned and interpreted. Let’s explore some of these special considerations.

Variations Across Cantons and School Types

Switzerland is a federation composed of 26 cantons, each with a high degree of autonomy in educational matters. This autonomy extends to the schooling system, leading to variations in how grading is approached:

  • Cantonal Differences: Some cantons might have slightly different grading scales or interpretations, especially in primary and lower secondary education. For example, while the 1 to 6 scale is standard for high school and university levels, the meaning of these grades and the strictness of grading can vary.
  • Types of Schools: Switzerland offers a variety of educational pathways, including vocational and academic tracks. Vocational schools might apply grading criteria that place more emphasis on practical skills and apprenticeships, whereas academic schools focus more on theoretical knowledge and analysis. This can affect both the grades students receive and the criteria used to evaluate them.

Teacher Discretion

Within the same school or program, individual teachers may have their own grading style, which can lead to variations in grading:

  • Subjectivity in Grading: Some subjects, particularly those involving essay writing or artistic performance, may be more subjective in terms of grading. Teachers have guidelines to follow, but there is still room for personal judgment, especially in evaluating the quality of analysis, creativity, or presentation.
  • Feedback and Improvement: Teachers in Switzerland often use grades as a tool for feedback, encouraging students to understand their mistakes and areas for improvement. This means that a teacher might grade more strictly at the beginning of a course to highlight areas for growth, adjusting as students improve.

Handling Failing Grades

Failing grades are treated with seriousness in the Swiss education system, but with a focus on support and improvement:

  • Remedial Support: Students receiving insufficient grades are often provided with additional support, such as tutoring, extra assignments, or the opportunity to attend remedial classes.
  • Retaking Exams: In many cases, students are given the chance to retake exams or complete additional projects to improve their grades. This is particularly common at the university level.
  • Impact on Progression: Consistently low grades can affect a student’s ability to progress to the next level of education or to enter certain professions, especially in highly competitive fields. Schools and universities provide guidance to help students make informed decisions about their educational pathways.

Understanding these special grading considerations is crucial for both students and parents navigating the Swiss educational system. It highlights the importance of engaging with teachers and school administrators to fully understand the expectations and opportunities for academic success.

In the next section, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about the Swiss grading system, providing additional clarity and insights.


Here we compile some frequently asked questions about the Switzerland grading system, providing answers to help demystify common queries and concerns. Whether you’re a student, parent, or educator, these insights aim to give you a clearer understanding of how grading works in Switzerland.

Q: What is considered a passing grade in Switzerland?
A: In Switzerland, a grade of 4 out of 6 is generally considered the minimum passing grade for both high school and higher education levels. Grades below 4 indicate insufficient understanding of the material and are considered failing grades.

Q: How is grade point average (GPA) calculated in Switzerland?
A: Switzerland does not commonly use the GPA system. However, for international applications or comparisons, a Swiss grade can be converted to a GPA or percentage based on the specific criteria of the receiving institution or country. The conversion table provided earlier can serve as a general guide.

Q: Can students retake exams to improve their grades in Switzerland?
A: Yes, in many cases, students are given the opportunity to retake exams or complete additional assignments to improve their grades, especially if they have failed or wish to achieve a higher grade. Policies on retakes vary by school and level of education, so it’s important to consult with the specific institution.

Q: How do variations in grading across cantons and schools affect university admissions?
A: Swiss universities are aware of the variations in grading practices across cantons and schools. They often take these differences into account during the admissions process, focusing on a holistic review of an applicant’s academic background and potential.

Q: Are vocational and academic tracks graded differently?
A: While the same basic grading scale is used across vocational and academic tracks, the criteria for assessment may differ, reflecting the distinct objectives of each pathway. Vocational tracks may place more emphasis on practical skills and apprenticeships, whereas academic tracks focus on theoretical knowledge.

Q: How do teachers in Switzerland provide feedback on grades?
A: Feedback practices can vary, but teachers in Switzerland often provide detailed comments on assignments and exams, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. Regular parent-teacher meetings and student conferences are also common for discussing academic progress.

Q: Is there grade inflation in Switzerland?
A: Grade inflation, where grades increase over time without a corresponding increase in learning and achievement, is less pronounced in Switzerland than in some other countries. The Swiss education system maintains strict standards and assessments to ensure that grades accurately reflect student performance.

Understanding these FAQs can help navigate the complexities of the Swiss grading system, ensuring that students and parents are well-informed and prepared for the academic journey ahead.

Stay tuned for our next section, where we’ll provide links to official sources and helpful websites for more information on grades in Switzerland.

Additional Resources

To further explore the Swiss grading system and gain a deeper understanding of educational practices in Switzerland, here are some official and highly informative resources. These websites are invaluable for students, parents, educators, and academic professionals looking to dive into detailed information, guidelines, and support materials related to the Swiss education system.

Swiss Federal Government’s Education Portal

  • Website: Swiss Confederation’s Official Education Portal
  • What it Offers: Comprehensive information on the Swiss education system, including policies, grading standards across different cantons, and guides for international students. It’s an authoritative source for understanding educational practices and reforms in Switzerland.

Swiss Universities’ Admission Offices

  • Website: swissuniversities
  • What it Offers: Detailed admissions criteria, including grade conversion guidelines for international students, information on degree programs, and contact information for the admissions offices of universities across Switzerland. A must-visit for prospective university students.

Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education

  • Website: EDK – Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education
  • What it Offers: Information on the educational jurisdiction of the cantons, including variations in grading systems and curricular standards. This site is particularly useful for understanding the decentralized nature of the Swiss education system.

Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) Information

These resources offer a wealth of information and are excellent starting points for anyone looking to understand more about how grading fits within the broader context of Swiss education. Whether you’re a domestic or international student, an educator looking to compare educational systems, or just curious about Swiss educational standards, these sites provide authoritative and up-to-date information.