Grading System in Ireland for International Student


The Ireland University Grading System

Last updated: 18 January 2024 Study in Ireland

The grading system in Ireland mostly varies by the institution and the specific programme taken while pursuing higher education. Most universities have unique grading systems, allowing students to stand out with variations. Despite differences, the minimum passing percentage is 40% in any course.

For more details on the different grading systems in Ireland and how they function to assess a student’s academic performance, learn more below. Begin your application to study in Ireland today by arranging a free consultation.

grading system in ireland

Different Levels of Education in Ireland

Ireland is known for its outstanding education system, which has different levels to suit the needs of students in their specific phases. All students aged 6 to 16 are usually required to attend school. At the secondary level, three years of schooling education is again mandatory, particularly for students aged 12-15. After this, students can go for an optional year, combining academic and experiential learning. At the senior level, two years of education is needed, eventually leading to the Leaving Certificate examination, which is crucial for university admissions in Ireland. 

Students who pursue higher education at the university level must have taken the Leaving Certificate examination. After this examination, they can enter university to study for a bachelor's degree. Advanced learning beyond this point is made available to students through master's and PhD programmes. Ireland also has specialised institutes of technology that focus on career-oriented education programmes, mostly in technical fields.

Apart from the university courses, students can also continue their post-secondary education at colleges, where they are provided with practical skills, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training to enter the job market directly. 

Specific schools are catering to students with physical and intellectual disabilities as well, which are also an integral part of the Irish education system. 

Grading System at Different Levels

School Leaving Certificate Grading Scale

In 2017, a new Leaving Certificate Grading scale was introduced to provide a better differentiating factor between students' performance and reduce the pressure on students to achieve higher grades. It is based on a scale of H1 to H8, with H1 being the highest grade and H8 the lowest passing grade. Generally, university admissions require a student’s score out of 600 as six subjects from the school level must be considered for the Leaving Certificate examination. The overall grades are based on a percentage scale, which is mentioned below:

Grade Scale
H1 90.00 – 100.00
H2 80.00 – 89.00
H3 70.00 – 79.00
H4 60.00 – 69.00
H5 50.00 – 59.00
H6 40.00 – 49.00
H7 30.00 – 39.00
H8 0.00 - 29.00

Secondary School Grading System

This system is used for grading a student’s performance at the secondary level and is based on a scale of A to NG. This system is not directly comparable to the grading systems in different countries and is designed to provide a fair assessment of a student's academic performance. These grades are used to determine their eligibility for higher education courses beyond the secondary level and help shape their career opportunities. 

Grade Scale Grade Description
A 85.00 – 100.00 Excellent
B 70.00 – 84.99 Very Good
C 55.00 – 69.99 Good
D 40.00 – 54.99 Satisfactory
E 25.00 – 39.99 Weak
F 10.00 – 24.99 Fail
NG 0.00 – 9.99 No Grade

ECTS Grading System

This grading system is used in European higher educational institutions and has been designed to provide a standardised system for pursuing higher education. It helps facilitate the recognition and transfer of credits applicable between countries and higher education institutions. It is not directly comparable to the grading systems of other countries, and other specific requirements may also need to be fulfilled by students as per the programme or university. 

Grade Scale Grade Description
A 90-100 Excellent
B 80-89 Very Good
C 70-79 Good
D 60-69 Satisfactory
E 50-59 Sufficient
F 40-49 Fail

Major Irish College (Unis) Grading System 

The grading systems at top universities in Ireland are also different, and the major ones are discussed below.

Trinity College Dublin

Grade Percentage Range Degree Classification 
I 70-100% First Class Honours
II.1 60-69% Second Class Honours, First Division
II.2 50-59% Second Class Honours, Second Division
III 40-49% Third Class Honours

University College Cork

Degree Classification Percentage Range
First Class Honours 70-100%
Second Class Honours Grade 1 60-69%
Second Class Honours Grade 2 50-59%
Third Class Honours 40-49%
Fail Less than 40%

Study In Ireland 

If you want to pursue your higher education in Ireland and want to know more about the details of the application process, book a free consultation with SI-Ireland today.

Grading System in Ireland FAQ

How does the university system work in Ireland?

The university education system in Ireland generally follows a three-tiered structure comprising universities, institutes of technology (IoTs), and colleges. 

Is there any comparative grading system that might affect student's scores?

Yes, there is a possibility of a comparative grading system that can impact the scores of students in Ireland. Some institutions can employ grade moderation processes to ensure consistency and fairness across modules and courses. This usually involves reviewing and adjusting grades based on the overall performance of students. While these processes are intended to uphold academic rigour, they can influence individual scores relative to the overall performance of all students.

What factors affect grading?

Several factors affect grading in Ireland's education system, including continuous assessment methods, such as assignments, projects, and class participation. Apart from these factors, the final examinations are also crucial in determining students' overall grades. 

What is the difference between absolute and comparative grading?

Absolute and comparative grading are two distinct approaches to evaluating a student’s academic performance. Absolute grading assesses an individual performance against a predetermined standard or criteria, assigning grades based on an absolute scale, often using percentage ranges. In contrast, comparative grading assesses students' performance relative to their peers, considering the overall distribution of scores in a class. 

What is the purpose of absolute grading?

The purpose of absolute grading is to evaluate a student’s performance based on predetermined standards, which function independently of the performance of other students.  This grading system relies on a fixed scale, often expressed as percentages, and provides a clear and consistent measure of a student's achievement.

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