Academic Grading in the Netherlands

This article is about the current type of grading used in the Netherlands, which has remained unchanged for several decades.

In the Netherlands, most institutions grade exams, papers and thesis on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding). The scale is generally further subdivided with intervals of one decimal place, although the use of halves (e.g., 7.5) and quarters (e.g., 7+ or 7−, rounded to 0.8 or 0.3) is also common. Thus, a 6.75 could be written as 7− and count as a 6.8, whereas a 7+ would be a 7.25 and count as a 7.3. Marks given in decimals are usually rounded to the nearest full mark for the final mark. At all levels of education, some subjects may be graded with the marks "insufficient" (O, or onvoldoende), "pass" (V, or voldoende) and in some cases "good" (G, or goed). On report cards, these are mostly shown as letters rather than numbers.

The grading scale with labels:
10 (excellent - ca. 0.1%)
9 (very good - ca. 2.4%)
8.5 (above good)
8.0 (good - ca. 12.5%)
7.5 (more than satisfactory)
7 (satisfactory - ca. 34.3%)
6 (sufficient - ca. 38.5%)
5 (below sufficient - highest fail grade - ca. 10.7%)
4 (insufficient)
3 (very insufficient)
2 (poor)
1 (very poor)

The lowest pass mark is decided upon by the educational institute. It is usually set at 5.5 as narrow pass, and 5.4 and below constitute a fail. If no decimal places are used, 6 and up is a pass and 5 and below a fail. Sometimes, when no decimal place is used, an additional grade, 6−, is used to indicate that the student has "barely passed". In some cases, usually in high schools, fail marks may be compensated with high passes, provided the average mark is a pass. For example, a mark 4 and 9 would average at ((4+9)/2=) 6.5 which makes for a pass. Compensation of marks is not always allowed in the course specifications, or a lower limit may be set (e.g., a mark below 4 may not be compensatable).

The mark 9 is seldom awarded (in only 2.7% of cases), and the highest pass mark 10 is extremely rare (in only 0.1% of cases) as this implies perfection, which is hardly ever present in student work, or indeed the lecturer's own work. Therefore, an average grade of an 8 is considered "excellent". Depending on the grade, universities can grant some honors, although this system is very limited compared to some other countries. Unlike America and most of Europe, an 8.5 or higher means "excellent and cum laude" in the Netherlands. A total average of grades 8 with no grade under 7 and finishing in time is awarded with "cum laude". For an average grade better than 7, but not meeting the criteria for cum laude, met genoegen ("with pleasure") is sometimes awarded.