There are significant differences between the American standard of grading and the British version of grading college coursework.

As this post states, many American professors have flexibility over how the percentage of the grading will be divided for the semester. Some teachers give points for attendance but more often, points are made for participation (as in the past, students would come to class but not be actively involved). A heavy focus is given on discussion questions, unless the course is set up in a lecture-format, where there are too many students to give each student a fair amount of time to share thoughts during the course. Courses set up like this allow students to get to know their professors on a deeper level – allowing for possible connections for writing recommendation letters in the future.

When studying abroad in South Africa, I found myself a recipient of the British type of grading. There were a few assignments that I had to fulfill before the end of the semester but the final exam was as high as 70% of my semester’s grade. This caused me to freak out more at the end of the semester than I usually did – even though in South Africa, they also give two weeks off from school to allow students to study for final exams and presentations. Another interesting difference was that students in South Africa could re-take their final exam. Given in a huge lecture hall about a month after the first final exam was given, students would have the chance to improve their test score. If after the second attempt, the student still failed, then the student would not receive credit for his semester’s coursework.

To read a student from the United Kingdom’s perspective on the difference between American and British style college grading, be sure to click on this “reblog” link.