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Carleton’s grading system: the charts

At Carleton, a 12 point grading scale is used. All your percentage grades from your courses are converted into a letter grade which is what you are given when provided with your final marks. These can then be converted into a number grade as shown in the chart below:

Percentage Grade Letter Grade Number Grade
0-49 F 0
50-52 D- 1
53-56 D 2
57-59 D+ 3
60-62 C- 4
63-66 C 5
67-69 C+ 6
70-72 B- 7
73-76 B 8
77-79 B+ 9
80-84 A- 10
85-89 A 11
90-100 A+ 12

Starting with an exaggerated example, let’s say you had two courses. The two percentages you received were 100% and 60%. In the 12 point grading scale, these would be equivalent to a 12 (A+) and 4 (C-).

% Average % Diff. from 80% 12 Pt. Grading Scale Point Diff. from 10
100% +20% 12 +2
60% -20% 4 -6
Average: 80% Sum of Diffs: 0 Average: 8 Sum of Diffs: -4

Interestingly, using the percentage to calculate the average, an 80% average or A- was attained. However, using the 12 point grading scale, the average is only an 8 or B. Also notice the fact one would still need 4 number grades above a 10 to restore the A- GPA (e.g. for example you would need at least two 12s or A+s to restore an A- GPA).


Using another exaggerated example, but this time with a full ten course load we will see another negative in the 12 point grading scale.

% Average % Diff. from 80% 12 Pt. Grading Scale Point Diff. from 10
80% 0% 10 0
83% +3% 10 0
82% +2% 10 0
81% +1% 10 0
80% 0% 10 0
80% 0% 10 0
82% +2% 10 0
84% +4% 10 0
80% 0% 10 0
79% -1% 9 -1
Average: 81.1% Sum of Diffs: +11% Average:9.9 Sum of Diffs: -1

If a student happened to get all low 80s in nine courses, but ran into a teacher refusing to budge from a 79% in high school there would usually be no problem. As long as one of the low 80s was at least 81% or higher, it would balance out the 79%. However, looking at the 12 point grading scale, the result is an average below 10 or A-. You would have needed an 11 or A to cancel out the 9 or B+ that the 79% was equivalent too.
To conclude, let’s use one final example, using a more realistic full ten course load example.

% Average % Diff from 80 12 Pt. Grading Scale Point Diff. from 10
95% +15% 12 +2
78% -2% 9 -1
68% -12% 6 -4
85% +5% 11 +1
80% 0% 10 0
81% +1% 10 0
75% -5% 8 -2
81% +1% 10 0
89% +9% 11 +1
88% +9% 11 +1
Average: 82% Sum of Diffs: +20% Average: 9.8 Sum of Diffs: -2

Looking at this example, even though all the percentages are very high, one low percentage (in this case the 68%) can make it extremely difficult to earn an A- average in the 12 point grading scale. For example, if you happened to get C- which is equivalent to a 4, this is 6 number grades below a 10. This means, you need a minimum of three courses (all of which need to be A+ or 12) to bring the average back up to a 10 (because each A+ is 2 number grades above a 10).

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