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Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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Recently, I discovered a curious little detail about Finnish grading that seems to be true at least for the university at which I’m currently a student.

The grading scale goes from 0 through 5 (best), integers only. Up to here, not a lot different to the Swiss system which goes from 1 through 6 (best) although with a precision to the second decimal place – though for a single course the grade is typically rounded to the integer or .25, .5 or .75.

The real difference is that in Finland only 0 denotes failed, 1 through 5 are passed grades while in Switzerland 1, 2, 3 (and the decimal levels of grey in between and < 4) are failed marks (though, you typically get more than 1 just by writing your name, if spelled correctly ;-)).

Note the curious and fine little detail. If you fail, there is no emphasis on how badly you fail. You may read it as “We invite you to review the material and enroll for the course again.” Five grade levels out of six are to emphasise goodness.That is, 83% of the scale is to diversify success while in Switzerland 57% (on a .25 scale, 12 out of 21) are to diversify failure!

Northern European countries are sometimes argued to be forward-looking in Europe for their education system. This might well be a curious detail that supports this.

How is it in your country?