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China’s Grading System: When Rank Matters

Though similar in some ways to the Western educational system, education in China has its own peculiarities One of the differences lies in its grading system. Chinese schools and universities follow a rank based grading system where a student is given a rank in class based on his or her educational achievements. Competition is rigorous at all levels of education as academic excellence is highly prized in Chinese society. China is well known for its industrial achievements. Recent surveys have found Chinese students excel in their studies and they are top notch scholars compared to students from other parts of the world.

Rank based grading system in China is competitive

Teachers and lecturers are permitted to give a certain grade only a particular number of times. That number is determined by the total number of students in a given class. Thus, students directly compete with each other to attain the best grades in class as only a certain stipulated portion of the class can be allocated the highest grades.

China mostly follows a 5 scale or 4 scale grading system

Universities, schools and colleges in China follow either a 5 scale or 4 scale grading system. In the 5 scale grading system, the following grades can be obtained:
  • Grade A: This grade is given to excellent students scoring between 85 to 100%. Grade A is for those in the 90 to 100% range. Students scoring 85 to 89% are given A-.
  • Grade B: This is in the range of 75 to 84%. Students scoring 82 to 84% are given B and those in the range of 78 to 81% are given B. B- is given to students who get a score of 75 to 77%.
  • Grade C: This grade is granted to students who are satisfactory or fair in their academic prowess and score between 64 to 74%. C is given to those scoring 72 to 74%. Grade C is given to students who get anywhere between 68 to 71%. Those who get a score of 64 to 67% are given a C-.
  • Grade D: This grade is given for students who are able to pass the examinations or tests. In percentage terms, those securing 60 to 63% are granted this grade.
  • Grade F: Students who get a percentage ranging from 0 to 59% are given grade F.

The 4 scale grading system is listed below:
  • Grade A: This grade is for excellent students getting 85 to 100% in their examinations.
  • Grade B: B is a grade indicating the students are good and that they have achieved between 75 to 84% in their academic tests.
  • Grade C: For students who get C, the percentage ranges from 60 to 74%. Students attaining this grade are considered average or satisfactory.
  • Grade D: This grade denotes that students have failed. Students getting between 0 to 59% are given a D.

China also follows other assessment systems

Another form of grading or educational assessment used in China is one where a student is either declared as qualified or failed. However, Peking University uses a distinct form of grading which distinguishes it from other educational institutions in China. Here, the passing grade is 60% and it is based not only on examinations but classroom participation and homework as well.

Conclusion

China’s rank oriented grading system is the by product of the Cultural Revolution. But there are changes in attitudes and orientations since then. China is fast becoming one of the most developed nations of the world and academic grading systems are becoming more innovative gradually. Some educational institutions such as Peking University are paving the way for change in the grading system followed in China.
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