What are the equivalent Grades to Pass, Merit, and Distinction?

Grades are an important part of your exams. They help to evaluate you during your exams. The grades help you to know if you pass or fail the exam. It also helps to know if you have scored in any position in the exam. Though to know if you have passed, failed, or achieved a merit or distinction position you need to know what are the grades equivalent to them.

When you get a grade of 4 you get a pass according to the current grading system. Similarly, if you are getting merit it means you are getting grades 5,6, and 7. Getting a distinction means that you are getting a grade equal to and above 7. We will be discussing it further, let us first see what are the two different grading systems.

What are the two different grading systems?

Traditionally the grading system in the UK was the A*-G and currently, the grading system is the 9-1 system. In the A*-G system, the highest grade that you can achieve is A* and the lowest G. Whereas, in the 9-1 grading system the highest score you can get is 9, and the lowest is 1.

However, one thing that you should take care of is that an A* despite being the highest grade does not have the same value as a grade 9. But grade 7 is equal to grade A. However, one thing that you need to know is that with the new grading system, it has become difficult for you to score higher.

What grade is equal to a pass?

The passing grade is divided into three different sections- Sections 1, 2, and 3. Section 1 means that you have been highly passed and is equivalent to grade 5. Section 2 means you have just passed and is equivalent to grade 4 (may be the average grade for some subjects) which is neither high nor low. The last section i.e section 3 means you have passed but with a lower 3. Any other grade below 3 or U is considered to fail the exam. However, you must

Grade C is the standard grade to pass according to the UK government. However, D and E are also considered passing grades but are considered very low grades. Also, you must remember that if you are failing in English literature, English language, and math, you will need to retake the exams. However, it was not mandatory previously.

What grade is equal to merit?

Merit is like giving praise to the students who have achieved higher marks above the average grades. If we consider the traditional system then merit is considered to be grade B. Thus this means that if we talk about the modern system, the merits are the high grades which are 5, 6, and 7. Anything below that whether pass or fail is not considered as merit.

However, grade 7 is directly equal to an A grade which is equal to the distinction category. So if you are getting merit this means that you have done great in your exams. When you will get a merit in the exam, then it means that you will definitely have passed the exam. 

What grade is equal to a distinction?

Distinction means that you have achieved something above the merit grade. This means that you have done an excellent job in your exams. Thus a grade equal to and above 7 is considered for the distinction position. It is because grades above 7 are very difficult to achieve and very few students get it in their exams. Grades 7 and 8 are considered slightly above A. This shows that if you are only getting A’s and A* in your exams then you are considered for distinction.

What is the difference between pass, merit, and distinction?

A pass is a minimum mark that you will need to not fail the exams. Generally, the passing grades in the traditional method were D and E and in the current system, the passing grade is 3. Grades 2 and 1 will be considered a failure. 

However, merit is a position given to you when you do better than the passing grades. As discussed earlier merit in the traditional system was given to the students with B grades. Also in the current system, if you have scored grade 5,6 you are awarded the merit position. This is generally given to the students getting between 60%-75%. Merit is a grade that is given to you when you score more than pass and less than distinction.

On the other hand, the distinction is the highest position that you can get in your exams. They are graded by students who have done extremely well in the exams. According to the traditional system, if you have scored the grades A and A* then you are eligible for getting a distinction. However, if we talk about the current grading system distinction is given if you are scoring equal to or above 7. This means that if you are scoring grades 7, 8, and 9, then you will be getting a distinction. 

Merits and distinctions have been used by various universities and colleges to grade their students. However, the minimum marks that are needed for a specific position may vary depending on the institution you are studying.


After giving the exams, you get the grade according to your exams. Traditionally there was a grading system based on the A*-U. But at the current time, the grading system in the UK has changed to a 9-1 grading system. The grading system involves three different positions including just pass, merit, and distinction. This article helps you to know what are the equivalent grades for all three positions.

William Christie