It can be difficult to compare different qualifications in the UK, even when they’re at the same level. This is because many of them use different grading systems that can leave you feeling confused about how they match up. This can be especially true for less used grading systems, such as the Pass, Merit and Distinction system, when being compared to more typical grading systems, such as the lettered grading system.
In short, many grades can be equivalent or roughly equivalent to the Pass, Merit and Distinction grades based on what level they are at. At GCSE-level, the Distinction* grade is equivalent to a bit higher than an A* or grade 8. For A-Level equivalents, the Distinction* grade is equal to A*A*A* compared to a D* in T-Levels or equal to a single A* for BTEC Nationals and Cambridge Technicals. At undergraduate and postgraduate level, the Distinction grade is equivalent to a first-class honours degree of a bachelor’s degree.
Continue reading to learn more about the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system and how it matches up to other UK grading systems. Whether you’re a student, parent or simply interested, this article will help you to understand what the Pass, Merit and Distinction grades really mean.
Table of Contents
Which qualifications use Pass, Merit and Distinction?
The Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system is widely used across the stages of education and qualification levels in the UK. Due to this, it can be hard to tell which qualifications actually use this grading system.
The Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system is primarily used to grade vocational qualification, although this isn’t it’s only use, and it isn’t used for all vocational qualifications. Vocational qualifications are a type of qualification that train you more directly for a specific trade.
They include qualifications, such as BTECs, T-Levels, CTECs, Cambridge Nationals, higher national certificates (HNCs), higher national diplomas (HNDs) and foundation degrees, all of which use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system. To learn more about vocational qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
However, other qualifications, that are more academic, may also use Pass, Merit and Distinction grades. For example, it is also used to grade postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas and master’s degrees.
For more detail about how all of these qualifications are graded and how their use of the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system matches up to other grading systems at the same level, keep reading the following sections. To learn more about how the qualification levels and stages of education works in the UK, check out this Think Student article.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction?
It can be easy to look for a simple answer to this question. However, due to the nature of the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system, this will generally not be possible.
As mentioned above, the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system is used for a range of different qualifications at different levels. Due to this, it can be difficult to directly compare Pass, Merit and Distinction grades with grading systems as there isn’t one general answer or grade equivalent.
This means that in order to figure out what grades are equivalent to Pass, Merit and Distinction, we have to directly compare them with specific qualifications at specific levels. To learn more about how this will be done, particularly for GCSE-level, A-Level, undergraduate and postgraduate level qualifications, check out the following sections.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction at GCSE level?
GCSEs are level 2 qualifications. When finding the equivalents of the Pass, Merit and Distinction grades, it is best to compare within the same qualification level so that these different grades will truly mean the same or similar things.
The main qualifications at level 2 that use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system are BTEC Firsts and CTECs. These two types of qualification are very similar, the main difference being their exam boards, and as a result measure up to GCSEs in the same way.
A Pass grade for a BTEC or CTEC at level 2 will be roughly equivalent to a grade 4 in the numbered grading system or a C grade in the lettered system. A Merit grade for BTEC or CTEC at level 2 doesn’t match up as evenly and is roughly equivalent to a grade 5.5 in the numbered grading system or somewhere between grades B and C in the lettered system.
At level 2, a Distinction grade for BTECs or CTECs is roughly equivalent to a grade 7 in the numbered system or an A in the lettered system. At this level, there is also the Distinction* grade, which is roughly equivalent to a grade a bit higher than a grade 8 in the numbered system or an A* in the lettered system.
BTECs and CTECs also have Pass, Merit and Distinction grades at level 1, rather than just level 2. However, these aren’t equivalent to GCSE passing grades.
To see this information more clearly, please refer to the following table.
|New 9-1 GCSE Grades||BTEC/ CTEC grades|
|D* (level 2)|
|7||D (level 2)|
|M (level 2)|
|4||P (level 2)|
|3||D* (level 1)|
|2||D (level 1)|
|M (level 1)|
|1||P (level 1)|
To learn more about these grades, check out this Think Student article. CTEC is a much less common term, if you would like to learn more about these qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction at A-Level?
A-Levels are level 3 qualifications and as a part of the optional further education stage, there are a vaster range of qualifications that are equivalent to them. A significant portion of which use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system.
The main qualifications at level 3 that use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system are BTEC Nationals, Cambridge Technicals and T-Levels. As level 3 qualifications, these as well as A-Levels have UCAS Tariff points attributed to them, making them easier to compare.
However, due to the nature of these qualifications it can be difficult, as a single one of these may be worth more than a single A-Level. For example, T-Levels, BTEC National Extended Diplomas and Cambridge Technical Extended Diplomas are all worth 3 A-Levels each. Also, BTEC National Diplomas and Cambridge Technical Diplomas are equivalent to 2 A-Levels each.
For BTEC Nationals and Cambridge Technicals, you will receive a single, double or triple grade, depending on how many A-Levels your course is worth. These double or triple grades can be separate and by adding up the UCAS points of each one, you can see how they would compare to A-Levels. Check out the following table to see how BTECs and CTECs compare to A-Levels based on their UCAS points.
|BTEC Nationals/ Cambridge Technicals||UCAS Tariff points||A-Level grades|
Unlike BTEC Nationals and Cambridge Technicals, you will only get a single grade for a T-Level, although it is worth 3 A-Levels. To see how the T-Level grades are attributed UCAS points and compared to A-Levels, check out the following table.
|T-Level grades||UCAS Tariff points||A-Level grades|
|P (A*- C)||96||CCC|
|P (D or E)||72||DDD|
To learn more about this comparison, check out this page by UCAS. If you would like to learn more about T-Level qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction at undergraduate level?
As a whole, undergraduate degrees are level 6 qualifications, however in a typical, full-time degree, the first year is equivalent to a level 4 qualification and the second year is equivalent to a level 5 qualification. This means that to consider what the equivalent grades of the Pass, Merit and Distinction grades are at undergraduate level, they need to be split up into their distinct levels. To learn more about undergraduate degrees, check out this Think Student article.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction for level 4 qualifications?
Level 4 qualifications are equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree. Due to this, using the degree classifications of undergraduate degrees as equivalents, can be the best way to compare them.
At level 4, the main qualifications that use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system are higher national certificates (HNC) and certificates of higher education (CertHE). Look at the table below to see how they compare.
|HNC/ CertHE grade||Percentage||Degree classification|
To learn more about the HNC/ CertHE grades, check out this guide by the University of Kent. To learn more about the undergraduate degree classifications, check out this Think Student article. You can also learn more about level 4 qualifications, such as higher national certificates and certificates of higher education, by clicking here to go to a Think Student article.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction for level 5 qualifications?
Once again, as equivalent to part of an undergraduate degree, finding the equivalent grades to level 5 qualifications that use the Pass, Merit and Distinctions systems is best done using the undergraduate degree classifications.
The main level 5 qualifications that use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system are higher national diplomas (HND), diplomas of higher education (DipHE) and foundation degrees. To see the equivalent grades to the Pass, Merit and Distinction system used in these 3 qualifications, look at the following table.
|Foundation degree||HND/ DipHE||Percentage||Degree classification|
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction for level 6 qualifications?
As mentioned above, the main qualifications at level 6 are bachelor’s degrees. Due to this, there is less information available about the vocational or less mainstream qualifications at this level, some of which might use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system.
As a result, I’m unable to give you a specific answer to what grades are equivalent to Pass, Merit and Distinction at level 6. However, due to the previous levels, showing that the Pass, Merit and Distinction grades largely match up with undergraduate degree classifications, particularly as these grades are attributed based on percentages.
What are the equivalent grades to Pass, Merit and Distinction at postgraduate level?
Postgraduate level consists of both level 7 and level 8 qualifications. Considering that doctorate degrees, the main qualification at level 8, don’t use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system, in this article we’ll be primarily focusing on level 7 qualifications.
Unlike the previous qualification levels, the main qualifications that use the Pass, Merit and Distinction grading system at this level are both ones that are more academic and ones that are vocational. The main qualifications that use this grading system at level 7 are master’s degrees, postgraduate certificates (PGCert) and postgraduate diplomas (PGDip).
As there is no “mainstream” grading system to compare them to at level 7, it’s easiest to think of them in terms of their percentage grade, which can also be translated into other grading systems, such as the undergraduate degree classifications. To see the equivalent grades to PGCerts, PGDips and master’s degrees based off percentage, check out the table below.
|Master’s grade||PGCert/ PGDip grades||Percentage||Undergraduate degree classification|
To learn more about the postgraduate certificate and diploma grades, check out this article by Find A Masters. To learn more about the master’s degree grades, check out this Think Student article.
If you would like to learn more about postgraduate degrees in general, check out this Think Student article.
A Distinction is equal to a first and requires you to achieve 70%+ in your degree. A Merit is equal to a 2:1 and requires you to achieve 60-69% in your degree. A pass is equal to a 2:2 and requires you to achieve 50-59% in your degree.What grades are equivalent to pass merit distinction? ›
70% and above: Distinction. 60 – 69%: Merit.What is a distinction merit equivalent to? ›
Merit = Two C grade A Levels. Distinction = Two A grade A Levels. Distinction* = Two A* grade A Levels. Why do Grade Reports show two grades for a BTEC Diploma? This is because a Level 3 Diploma is equivalent to 2 A Levels, so a double grade is given.What is a distinction equivalent to in grades? ›
Distinction (D) – equivalent to an A. Merit (M) – equivalent to a C. Pass (P) – equivalent to an E. Near pass (N) – this grade is available on most Btec Nationals.What grade do you need for a distinction? ›
If 50% of your individual assessments are 70 or above you will be raised to a distinction. If they are not you will remain on an merit.Is 70 a merit or distinction? ›
The boundary zone for the merit level is between 58% and 59.9%. the distinction level is 70% or above. The boundary zone for the distinction level is between 68% and 69.9%.How is a merit and distinction calculated? ›
Distinction: A final grade of 70% or above. Merit: A final grade of 60-69% Pass: A final grade of 50-59%How many points is a pass merit and distinction? ›
|Pass (C or above on the core)||96 points|
Academic distinction: Schools base this award on how many courses you complete for credit and letter grade. Students who earn a 3.5 to 3.9 GPA in their courses may earn the academic distinction while students who earn a 4.0 GPA may earn the highest academic distinction.Is 80% a distinction? ›
Indeed, the differential between universities in terms of marking scale can be as much as 20%, with some requiring an 85% plus for the award of Distinction, an approximate equivalent of the Latin honor summa-cum-laude, while yet others would award Distinction at above of 70%.
A level 2 Distinction* grade is the highest grade that students can get in these types of qualifications. It is roughly equivalent to being slightly higher than a grade 8 but still below a grade 9. Then there is the normal Distinction grade, which is roughly equivalent to a grade 7.Is distinction the highest grade? ›
The highest grade being Distinction, and the lowest grade Pass. This type of qualifications is given a ranked grade, this is because the university has recognised that the student has achieved the qualification and recognises highest to lowest levels in performance.What is a merit grade? ›
Merit is a grade used in grading systems of most exams. It is given to a candidate as an award for the hard work done throughout an academic program. Similarly, a merit grade gives validity to one's effort and hard work and shows that the candidate is better than other students in the classroom.Is a distinction an A or B? ›
|HD||7.00||A+ (High Distinction)|
|D||6.00 - 6.99||A (Distinction)|
|C||5.00 - 5.99||B (Credit)|
|P||4.00 - 4.99||C (Pass)|
A distinction pass is when you obtain 80% or above in your subjects. This is how you can do it: Attend class. Ask questions.What percentage is level a distinction? ›
A distinction is worth seven (7) APS points. This is possible if you get between 80% and 100% on a subject. This is also referred to as an “outstanding achievement.”What is distinction grade in percentage? ›
6 - Distinction
Percentage range: 75%-84%.
Merit: Students who receive grades from 60% to 69% are granted a merit grade.What is a distinction score? ›
Distinction: A superior performance; mark range 75-84. Indicates that the student has demonstrated superior ability to consider the course and its assessment requirements from a number of perspectives and to explore their interrelation.What percentage is a merit award? ›
A merit candidate is a student who has obtained a grade point average of over 60% in their final year of study for their last qualification.
Here is a general breakdown of what you require for achieving a certain master's grade and how that equates to a bachelor's classification for comparison: A Distinction is equal to a first and requires you to achieve 70%+ in your degree. A Merit is equal to a 2:1 and requires you to achieve 60-69% in your degree.How do you calculate distinction? ›
Grade points are assigned to a graded unit where: High Distinction = 7. Distinction = 6. Credit = 5.How do you graduate with distinction? ›
Graduating with a distinction
If you complete a bachelor's degree without an honours component, you may be eligible to graduate with a distinction, provided your WAM is over 70. For double degrees, you may be eligible for a distinction for one or both of your degrees.
Recipients of honors on academic catalogs for 2022-2023 or later receive their degrees with one of the following levels of distinction: cum laude (GPA of 3.5–3.69); magna cum laude (GPA of 3.7–3.89); or. summa cum laude (GPA of 3.9–4.0).What score out of 100 is a distinction? ›
|HD||High distinction||80-100 %|
magna cum laude: at least a 3.4 total GPA (grade point average) and a class rank in the 85th percentile or above in the student's school or college. summa cum laude: at least a 3.7 total GPA (grade point average) and a class rank in the 95th percentile or above in the student's school or college.How many credits is a distinction worth? ›
c the Access to HE Diploma (Law), with 45 credits from graded units awarded at Level 3, of which 30 must be awarded at Distinction, and 15 at Merit or higher (128 tariff points and above).What does it mean to pass with distinction? ›
Being awarded Pass with Distinction on an Honors thesis is truly an outstanding honor. Students receiving Pass with Distinction have demonstrated that their writing, speaking, and research skills are of the highest level.Is distinction an honor? ›
The Honours Award recognizes those students who have obtained an average mark of 80.0% to 84.9% in their course of studies in each of grades 9-12. The Honours with Distinction award recognizes those students who have obtained an average mark of 85% to 100% in their course of studies in each of grades 9-12.What is higher than distinction? ›
The highest academic distinction is summa cum laude, followed by magna cum laude and cum laude.
Distinction: much like a First at undergraduate level, a Distinction is awarded when you achieve a percentage grade of 70% and above. Merit: you'll be awarded a Merit if you achieve a grade average between 60-69%.Which country has the hardest grading system? ›
Ans. The countries with the hardest and most difficult education systems include South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, etc.What is a Grade 9 equivalent to? ›
In the current grading system, a score of 9, 8 and 7 are equivalent to an A* and A. A 9 is for a student who has performed exceptionally well. A grade of 4 is the equivalent of a C grade, known as a standard pass. A grade of 5 is also a C grade but is known as a strong pass.What is D * D * D equivalent to? ›
A final grade of DDD is equivalent to achieving 3 grade A's at A-level and attracts the same UCAS points for university. It is a popular and successful route into higher education.What does P mean in grades? ›
P indicates Pass (A-, B and C will automatically be replaced by "P" when the Pass/No Pass option has been requested. A+ and A will be recorded as "A+" and "A", not "P"). NP indicates No Pass (D+, D, D-, and F will automatically be replaced by "NP" when the Pass/No Pass option has been requested).What does M mean in grades? ›
M = the student has met the grade level standard(s) P = the student has partially met the grade level standard(s) D = the student did not meet the grade level standard(s)Is a merit a 6? ›
Merit (M) = 5 or 6 at GCSE.Is it good to pass with merit? ›
If you have a “merit” on your diploma, it indicates that you graduated with 2i, as known as second class honours upper division classification. This is a really good score, as most of the employers require you to have that kind of grade and above.Is merit higher than honor? ›
Honor Roll - A grade point average of 3.5 or higher for the 9 week grading period. Merit Roll - A grade point average of 3.0 or higher for the 9 week grading period.What are the grades ranking? ›
DI (Distinction): Falling within the score range of 75 to 84% earns you a Distinction. This grade indicates a very high standard of learning outcomes.What's the highest GPA? ›
The unweighted GPA scale goes up to a 4.0 and doesn't take class difficulty into account. A weighted GPA scale typically goes up to a 5.0 and does consider the difficulty of a student's classes. It is important that student's know which GPA scale their school uses and how it effects them.Is 3.5 GPA a distinction? ›
Cum laude: “With distinction,” typically 3.5–3.6 GPA or top 16-35% of class. Magna cum laude: “With great distinction,” typically 3.7–3.8 GPA or top 6-15% of class. Summa cum laude: “With highest honor,” typically 3.9–4.0 GPA or top 1-5% of class.What is passing in distinction? ›
In a university with a 90% plus for Distinction, 60% may be the minimum passing mark. The university awarding distinction at 70% may have a passing mark of 45%.What GPA do you need to graduate with distinction? ›
Calculating The GPA
The maximum GPA is 7.00; the minimum GPA is 0.00. (76) A GPA of 6.00 or higher is required for graduation With Distinction.