What to know

Why There’s No “E” Grade

the American grading system does not have an E grade, but an F represents a failing grade instead

The American grading system has an A, a B, a C, a D and an F, but for a particular reason it has no “E” grade.

The modern American grading system first began at the Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts in 1897. The system was gradually picked up by other schools and academic institutions, and within two decades it became the unofficial official grading system in America.

At the time, the US witnessed mass immigration and had mandatory attendance laws in several states. With overcrowded schools and overwhelmed teachers, they needed an easy grading system that was easy to understand by all concerned parties.

Not only did the A-to-F grading system make it easier for teachers and students, it was easy for parents as well.

The original Mount Holyoke grading scale was:

  • A represented a grade of 95% to 100%, an excellent grade
  • B represented a grade of 85% to 94%, a good grade
  • C represented a grade of 76 to 84%, a fair grade
  • D represented a grade equivalent to 75%, a passing grade
  • E represented a grade less than 75%, a failing grade

However, the “E” grade was constantly and easily mistaken for an excellent grade, and teachers had to change into an F to represent a failing grade. Schools, teachers, students and parents found it easier to follow and it became the norm.

After World War 2 and because of globalization, many countries around the world introduced the American educational system into their school, and the grading system as well.

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