New Swedish grade system might prevent studies in the US Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Current Events, education

Sweden has recently, since fall of 2011 to be exact, introduced a new grade system to solve the problem of high grade inflation. In the old grade system grades in junior and senior high school consisted of a failing grade (Icke godkänt, IG), acceptable/OK (Godkänt, G), very good (Väl godkänt, VG) and the highest grade: very well done (Mycket väl godkänt, MVG).

Just before the grade systems changed, the number of MVGs were extremely high and there was no certain way to make sure that all grades were equal. A MVG could be awarded to one student for half the work that a student in the other end of the country had to do. Even within schools different teachers could give “easy” or “hard” grades. This is of course still the same in the new system, but since the new system consists of a greater number of grades, from F to A (F being failing), the idea was that there would be less uncertain grades at least.

The highest grade in the new system is at a far higher level than the highest in the old system. Many children who have experienced both systems have had to explain to their parents that a B in the new system, or even a C is close to a MVG in the old. In other words higher demands are being made of them for the highest grade. This isn’t a bad thing per say, but since the system hasn’t been in action for that long, neither teachers nor students are used to it. Many teachers are very uncertain about how to apply the grading criteria and the first years of students will probably feel the consequences of that.

This spring the very first students of the new grade system are going to graduate. Recently an article in DN (Dagens Nyheter) described the total chaos some Swedish students are experiencing in the converting of the new grades to the American grade system. The American offices of evaluation of foreign grades and the conversion to American ones haven’t received any information about the change of difficulty between the two Swedish systems. This has meant that there has been a straight conversion from the Swedish A to the American one, even though a B in the american system is worth a C/D in the Swedish.

American grades New Swedish grade system Previous Swedish grade system

Both the American and Swedish grading system convert their grades to a number scale. Lack of communication and explanation has meant that many Swedish students from the new system who want to be exchange students, or apply to university in the States get very bad converted scores, even though they have high grades in Sweden. The conversion scale gives a student that has an average of Bs in Sweden under acceptance rates for most universities in the US.

When the problem was voiced to the Swedish department of education they were completely unaware of the consequences the new grade system many students were about to face. They are now thinking about doing something about the problem they told DN’s reporter. Hopefully all this years graduating students will still be accepted to American universities even though there have been a lot of problems in the application process so far.

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  1. chuck:

    Colleges in the USA are used to dealing with schools that have different grading schemes. A school in Texas may award grades different from one in Florida and even two schools in the same county of Florida may award them differently. The USA relies a lot on test scores generated from the SAT and the ACT and the past performance of students from the school to normalize the grades.

    However, USA schools will be unaware of the recent changes to the program and students who are applying should be proactive and let the school know of the changes.

  2. Boo.:

    Where did you get this information…did it come from an official source? It seems awfully strange.

    Is a Swedish F, which is a fail and conveys no points, really equivalent to an American D, which is a passing grade with points? Seems odd.

    Is a Swedish D, which is below average in the Swedish system really equivalent to an American B, which is above average?

    Is the new Swedish C really close to the old MVG? That sounds very strange since a C is in the middle and a VG was in the middle. To tell Swedish C students that they are very close to MVG-level students is very misleading. Really, we should not even compare the new system to the old system simply because we need to detach from the problems of the old G-VG-MVG system. It was so flawed that to somehow translate today’s grades into the old system serves no purpose other than to dilute and confuse the meaning of the new system.