International students who want to study in Germany need to know about the German grading system for two reasons.
First, one needs to translate the school certificate or report into the German grades for the application to the German university. Second, it is important to understand the grades one achieves during his or her studies for other applications and to pass the exams.
There are two different grading systems in Germany. The first one contains grades from one to six. One means very good, six means very poor. If one achieves only the grade four or worse he or she didn’t pass the exam. This system is mainly used in Germany. It is used in school from the first year till year ten and it is also used at advanced colleges and universities. Smaller steps in the grading system can be shown in decimal numbers.
The full translation of grades is:
1.0 Very Good
6.0 Very Poor
In the last years of Gymnasium, which means year 11 to year 13 in the old way and year 10 to year 12 after the reform of G8 there is another grading system. This system gives points from 0 to 15 and is used because in the exams of the Abitur there are points to show the final grade. Because it is easier to calculate the final degree the system is introduced earlier. This grading system is also the basic system for the application for university. But the points can also be expressed in grades from the first system.
15 Better than very good
14 Very Good
00 Very Poor
To get the average degree for the Abitur the points of all exams in the last years and the points from the final exams are summarized. The points from the final exams are worth more than the other ones. The solution can then be calculated as average grade.
To apply for a place at university it is necessary for German students to have the number of points. For international students who have a different grading system it is possible to “translate” their grades. The necessary documents can be found on the webpages of the German university.
Exams at German universities are evaluated after the first graduate degree (one to six). But thanks to the Bologna-reform and the changing to Bachelor and Master system there is a third characteristic. For every lecture or exercise with a passed exam at university the students get so called ECTS-points (European Credit Transfer System). These points are summarized at the end of the studies and put together with the final thesis and the average of all grades. Allocating these one gets his or her final degree.
This sounds really complicated at the beginning but as soon as one is in the system and gets own grades it isn’t that hard anymore.