Academic grading in South Korea

Academic grading in South Korea depends on the type of school in which it is involved in. In University, the grade runs upon a letter-type grade similar to American schools. The letter grades can add up to different numbered averages, from 0.0 to 4.5. However, in Middle School, the grades are based on characters that of the Korean language, such as "수" meaning "Outstanding", or "양" meaning "Needs Improvement".

Middle School

All Korean Secondary Schools traditionally used to have a five-point grading system, which was converted from the student's raw score in mid-terms and finals (out of 100).

This system is still used in South Korean Middle Schools.

Students are generally not held back in Korean schools. Thus a grade of 'E' is still a passing grade.

High School

In October 2004, the ministry of education changed the High School academic grading system from absolute to relative evaluation.

The revised grading system provides for 9 ranks based on students' relative standing amongst all others taking the same class that semester.

In 2014, the High School academic grading system will be changed to a five-point grading system.

Rank Rank 1Rank 2Rank 3Rank 4Rank 5Rank 6Rank 7Rank 8Rank 9
Percentage 4%7%12%17%20%17%12%7%4%
Aggregate Percentile 4%11%23%40%60%77%89%96%100%

And 'Rank 9' is also still a passing grade.


In South Korea, depending on each school, the perfect score is represented as either 4.0, 4.3, or 4.5. The latter is the most commonly used system in the country. Some schools regard A+ and A0 as equal.

Many universities use the following gradations:

Letter Percent
A+ 95-100%
A 90-95%
B+ 85-90%
B 80-85%
C+ 75-80%
C 70-75%
D+ 65-70%
D 60-65%
F <60%
Letter Grade Grade Point
A+ 4.5
A 4.0
B+ 3.5
B 3.0
C+ 2.5
C 2.0
D+ 1.5
D 1.0
F 0.0
P Not Counted (without credit course, pass)
S Counted (credit is counted without any specific grade)
I Not Counted (Incomplete)
A+ 4.3
A0 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B0 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C0 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D0 1.0
D- 0.7 (lowest passing grade)
F 0.0 (No Credit)
S Satisfactory (credit is awarded, but no grade is given)
U Unsatisfactory (credit is not awarded, and no grade is given)


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