Grading in Germany

Germany uses a 5- or 6-point grading scale(GPA) to evaluate academic performance for the youngest to the oldest students. Grades vary from 1 (excellent, sehr gut) to 5 (resp. 6) (insufficient, nicht genügend). In the final classes of German Gymnasium schools that prepare for university studies, a point system is used with 15 points being the best grade and 0 points the worst. The percentage causes the grade can vary from teacher to teacher.

Grades by Education

In primary and lower secondary education (1st to 10th grade), German school children receive grades based on a 6-point grading scale ranging from 1 (excellent, sehr gut) to 6 (insufficient, ungenügend). Variations on the traditional six grade system allow for awarding grades suffixed with “+” and “-“. To calculate averages of suffixed grades, they are assigned fractional values, where 1 is 1.0, 1- is 1.3, 2+ is 1.7, 2 is 2.0, 2- is 2.3 and so on. As schools are governed by the states, not by the federal government, there are slight differences. Often a more granular scale of “1-” (equal to 1.25), “1-2” (= 1.5), “2+” (= 1.75), etc. is used; sometimes even decimal grading (1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and so on) is applied.

In the final classes of Gymnasium schools (11th to 12th/13th grade) the grades are converted to numbers (“points”), where “1+” equals 15 points and “6” equals 0 points. Since 1+ exists in this system, theoretically a final Abitur grade of less than 0.6 is possible and such grades are used in an informal setting, although officially any student with less than 1.0 will be awarded a 1.0 Abitur.When the point system is used, a grade of 4 (5 points) is the lowest passing grade, and 4- (4 points) the highest failing grade.

  • German universities (except for law schools) grade with a scale of 1 to 5:
  • 0–1.5 sehr gut (very good: an outstanding achievement)
  • 6–2.5 gut (good: an achievement which lies substantially above average requirements)
  • 6–3.5 befriedigend (satisfactory: an achievement which corresponds to average requirements)
  • 6–4.0 ausreichend (sufficient: an achievement which barely meets the requirements)
  • 0 nicht ausreichend / nicht bestanden (not sufficient / failed: an achievement which does not meet the requirements)

For law students at German universities, a similar system to the 1 to 5 scale is used that comprises one more grade that is inserted between 2 (gut) and 3 (befriedigend), named vollbefriedigend. This is because the grades 2 (gut) and 1 (sehr gut) are extremely rare, so an additional grade was created below gut to increase differentiation.