Grading system at higher education level
Higher education institutions in Ireland use slightly differentiated grading systems to evaluate student performance. However, although the grading systems may vary depending on the institution, there is usually a minimum passing grade of at least 40% of the maximum mark for a course. For example, if the maximum mark for a course is 100 points, the minimum passing grade would be 40.
In general, the grading systems are formed of a percentage rank and its description.
Below is the most common grading system used at higher education institutions in Ireland. Please note that this scale may vary slightly depending on the institution and even depending on the study program.
|International scale||Description||Percentage grade|
|First Class Honours
||70% or above|
(very good, with few errors)
|Upper Second Class Honours
||69% - 60%
(good, with some errors)
|Lower Second Class Honours
||59% - 50%
(satisfactory, with many errors)
|Third Class Honours
||49% - 45%
|Compensating Fail. This is the minimum passing grade
||44% - 40%
Grading system for the Leaving Certificate
The Leaving Certificate is an examination students in Ireland take after they have finished their upper secondary studies and before they can apply for higher education studies.
The results of this exam are expressed in form of a letter grade scale that can be converted into a grade point scale as seen on the table below:
|Grade letter||Grade point (Higher paper)||Grade point (Ordinary paper)|
Entry to college or university is based on accumulated grades from 6 leaving certificate subjects. Students can combine grades from higher papers and ordinary papers, which are less difficult than the higher papers. The maximum accumulated grade point a student can receive is 600 points.
In Ireland, as well as in many other states of the European Union, higher education institutions set a minimum grade point requirement students have to meet in order for them to qualify for the study program of their choice. For example, a course may have a minimum grade point requirement of 535 points any student will need if they want to qualify and be able to apply. This minimum grade point is also referred to as "cut-off point" and varies depending on the study program. Very competitive programs will have a higher cut-off point than those with lower demand. In some cases, there might be courses or study programs open to all elegible students, i.e., available for all students who have studied qualifying courses regardless of the grades they achieved. For example, students must have studied mathematics if they want to enroll in mathematical studies no matter what the achieved grade was.
If you are applying for undergraduate studies in Ireland, the grade that you received after taking the university entry examination will be converted into the grade point scale mentioned above.