What is a Passing Grade in High School?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Getting outstanding grades in school is a great achievement. But, putting a lot of factors into consideration, it may not be possible for every student to get a distinction in all subjects. This is why a range of scores has been established to consider a student’s performance satisfactory enough to move to the next level. So, what is a passing grade in high school? Passing grades differ depending on geographical location and several other factors. However, it is the number of points that a student must achieve to pass an examination. This article is focused on explaining what a passing grade is in high school and how to reach these grades.

What is Academic Grading in High School?What is Academic Grading in High School?

In high school, academic grading is the metric used to assess students’ performances in exams. It is used to determine a student’s level of success or failure in the exam. In the United States, the high school grading scale used includes the five, six, or seven-letter grades or numerical values known as points. The six-letter grade system is the most popular grading system. It generally uses letters A, B, C, D, E, and F, A being the highest and F, the lowest. However, the grade, E, was removed from the grading system because of two primary reasons. One, parents could take an E grade to mean “Excellent.” And two, both E and F grades were considered failures, but F is better understood and assumed so. This gave rise to the five-letter grades used in many schools. The grades are A, B, C, D, and F.

The seven-letter high school grading is a bit more complex because of the non-alphabetical order of the grades used in correspondence with performance. The grades and their corresponding percentages are:

  • O (outstanding) – used to represent scores of 90% and above
  • E (excellent) – which typically represents scores above 80% and less than 90%
  • A (very good) – Used to represent scores between 70% to less than 80%
  • B (good) – stands for scores between 60% to less than 70%
  • C (fair) – 50% to less than 60%
  • D (below average) – 40% to less than 50%
  • F (failed) – Used to represent all scores below 40%

The other high school grading scale, known as the numerical grading scale, makes use of numbers. Examples are the 6-point system, the 11-point system, and the 1-2-3-4 grading system. Another grading scale in high school in the US is the E-S-N-U system, with each letter denoting “Excellent,” “Satisfactory,” “Needs Improvement,” and “Unsatisfactory,” respectively. While this system is employed more in elementary schools, it is occasionally used in high schools.

All these grading scales in high school serve their purpose and are employed according to the factors that influence education in a particular school or region. To assess a student’s academic performance across all subjects or courses, the alphabetic high school grading scale is converted to a numerical system which enables the school to calculate the Grade Point Average (GPA) of that student.

What is Considered a Passing Grade in High School?

What is Considered a Passing Grade in High School?

Grades reflect how well you perform in an exam based on your comprehension level of the lesson or subject. Therefore, a passing grade is a grade or mark that you must attain to achieve success in an exam, that is, to pass an exam. An F is not a passing grade in any circumstances, so the passing grades for high school are usually from A to D (using the five-letter grading scale in high school).

Below is a typical high school grading scale.

  • A (excellent) – 90-100%; a passing grade for high school
  • B (good) – 80 to less than 90%; a passing grade for high school
  • C (average) – 70 to less than 80%; a passing grade for high school
  • D (pass) – 65 to less than 70%; a possible passing grade for high school
  • F (fail) – less than 65%; not a passing grade for high school

How is the GPA Calculated in High School?

How is the GPA Calculated in High School?

If you are in high school or planning to apply for one, you must have heard of GPA (Grade Point Average) and realized how essential it is in high school, college, and building a career.

A Grade Point Average is a number that reflects how well you performed on average across all your subjects. Its purpose is to grade you during your coursework and determine if your cumulative points were high or low. The number obtained is then used to decide if you meet the high school’s academic requirements and expectations.

The GPA scale is usually between 0 and 4 or a multiple of 4. Each grade you score correlates to a quality point, regardless of the type of high school grading chart used (numerical, letter-grade, or percentage grading system.) The quality point assigned falls within the GPA scale – 0 to 4 (or a multiple of 4). The maximum possible grade will correspond to the highest number on that scale.

Using the US high school grading scale as an example, the highest grade you can get is an A. If the GPA scale is between 0 to 4, then, A corresponds to a 4. Let’s assign 3, 2, and 1 respectively to B, C, and D. Let us also assume you are taking four subjects – Mathematics (3 credit units), English Language (3 credit units), Basic Sciences (2 credit units), and Social Studies (2 credit units). Let’s also assume that at the end of the semester or session, your grades and their corresponding quality points on the GPA scale are:

  • Mathematics – B (3)
  • English Language – A (4)
  • Basic Sciences – B (3)
  • Social Studies – C (2)

To calculate your GPA, you need to calculate the average of all your earned credits. How do you do this? You start by multiplying the quality points of each subject by their number of credits. Going by this instruction, you should have for Mathematics, 9-grade points (3×3), 12-grade points for English Language (4×3), 6-grade points for Basic Sciences (3×2), and 4-grade points for Social Studies (2×2). Next, sum up these grade points; you should get a 31. Then, you divide this sum by the total credits (3+3+2+2=10), and to get the final answer, your GPA. You should get a 3.1.

Weighted GPAs provide a more precise and reliable assessment of your academic performance, and it employs a 0 to 5 scale. If you’re wondering how to determine weighted GPAs, you should know that the difficulty of your courses is taken into consideration. For instance, an A in an easier class will be assigned a 4.0, while an A in a difficult course will be assigned a 5.0. Calculating the weighted GPA follows the same steps as with the unweighted scale. This grading system is often used in high school because it serves as the more accurate system to measure students’ academic achievements.

What is the Lowest Passing Grade in High School?

What is the Lowest Passing Grade in High School?

We have talked about the passing grades for high school. Let’s now take a look at what the lowest passing grade in a high school could be. In most high schools, D is considered the lowest passing grade. According to the high school grading chart in the US, a D can represent anything between 60% to less than 70%. However, most high schools start grading from 65 for a D.

One of the frequently asked questions by high school students is, “is 60 a passing grade in high school?” This question does not have any direct answer. It all depends on the high school grading scale in that region, district, or country. Nevertheless, it is best to strive for at least 70%. This is because, in some high schools, even a D is not considered a passing grade. In such schools, it is believed that D is a grade too low to pass an exam and move to the next level.

Hence, the lowest passing grade would be a C. Another reason you should strive for at least a 70% is to prepare for college or university academic grading. A D is considered an unsatisfactory grade in these institutions and cannot be sufficient to pass a course. While you might still be given credit for getting a D in a subject in high school, most college courses have their lowest passing grade from a C, and in some major courses, a B is the lowest passing grade.

Importance of Grades in High School

Importance of Grades in High School

Now that we’ve talked about high school grading and how it’s done, you’re probably wondering why grading is vital in the first place. Grading has several benefits, and a proper understanding of these benefits will help you understand why it is crucial. Here, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of high school grading.

Grading boosts confidence

In high school, getting good grades can boost the self-confidence of a student. According to a study conducted at Michigan University, about 80% of learners associated most of their self-worth with academic performance. While poverty usually leads to poor grades, most students from poor backgrounds but have good grades may develop a higher self-image.

It encourages students to work towards being better

The high school grading chart also encourages students to strive for good grades as it opens doors to quality higher education for the students. When deciding whether to admit or refuse a student, higher institutions consider the student’s GPA first. Knowing this as a student will encourage you to aim for good grades.

It helps determining eligible students for scholarship

Another importance is the provision of scholarship opportunities. Outstanding results rarely go unrewarded. There are college scholarships opportunities for students who get exceptional results in high school. This also relieves the financial burden of school fees, considering how expensive college education can be.

Can be used as basis to guess possible future performance

Grades are the typical method that society uses to evaluate what you might achieve in the future. Despite its shortcomings, grading students in high school serves numerous essential roles.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Passing Grade in High School

That’s it, a detailed look at the passing grades in high school. Whether you are just starting high school or getting ready to finish up, it’s important to look at the future and note what you’ll need to achieve your goals. If you intend to attend high school, you must work towards getting everything you’ll need for admission into college. One of such requirements is a passing grade in high school.

We understand how difficult it can be for some people to determine whether they’ve passed on not from their grades. Therefore, we’ve included the right information you’ll need to rightly weigh your grade and know whether you passed or not.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

Is AP Chemistry Worth Taking?

Is AP Chemistry Worth Taking?

Perhaps you’re a high school junior or senior considering to take AP Chemistry and are weighing the merits of this challenging yet rewarding course. Known for its rigorous academic demands and significant time investment, AP...

Read More
How Old is Too Old to Go to College?

How Old is Too Old to Go to College?

One common misconception about college is that only students in their teens and early twenties attempt college. Unfortunately, this misconception has stopped many older people from enrolling in college to further their education. But the...

Read More