Translating international school grades

Posted by Mark Gilbert on 7 December 2013

A frequent problem that international job applicants face is explaining their school grades. Online job applications frequently require you to complete a section on UCAS points (the grading system that universities use to determine whether a student has sufficiently high exam results to be admitted. All too often there is no option but to complete this, or you can’t continue with the application.

This is very frustrating if you don’t have UCAS points – they are a measure of UK qualifications (for example A-Levels and Scottish Highers), so if you don’t have those qualifications you can’t state how many USAC points you have because you don’t have ANY UCAS points, you didn’t sit a comparable exam. Thus you are in a vicious circle, unable to complete the application.

It is very difficult to provide any kind of conversion of grades, because each company/university set their own criteria regarding what constitutes an acceptable pass rate. One company may consider a Dutch Grade 7 to be equivalent to an A-Level ‘B’, where another may consider it a ‘C’. There is a reasonable useful website called UKNaric which explains individual education systems and makes comparisons. If you have the opportunity to do so, give the employer as much information about your qualification as possible – ratios are good (mention that your ‘7’ is ‘7 out of 10’, or give them a percentage. Employers are increasingly aware of the international education landscape, and expect to receive many applications from international students, so should be aware of other education systems. Always contact the employer directly if you are unsure – very often you can speak to someone in their HR department – email and ask any specific queries, and keep asking for feedback when you get rejections. Speak to your careers service if you aren’t getting anywhere, they may have some suggestions or ideas for you.

Topics: CVs and applications, Postgraduate study, International Students

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