Nigerian University Grading System: A Comprehensive Guide

A grading system is the application of standardized measurements for different levels of achievements by a student in a course. The grading system ensures fairness and consistency in the assessment of learning and in the assignment of scores.

A cumulative grade point average (CGPA) calculates a student’s performance in assessments and semester exams for every course such student enrolls in.

In 2017, the directors of the academic planning in Nigeria which is the National Universities Commission (NUC) concluded that universities should adopt the four point grading system instead of the five point grading system.

This took effect from 2017 till 2018. Later on in 2018, vice chancellors of several universities were instructed to return back to the five point grading system. This was due to the shortcomings encountered by the universities in the implementation of the four point grading system.

The scale made it easier for students to achieve first class degrees but created difficulties in getting students to acquire average class of degree. With effect from the 2018/2019 academic session, universities were instructed to return immediately to the five point scale system.

At the moment, Nigerian universities do not make use of a uniform system of grading, however, the five point system is the most commonly used grading system.

Differences between the 4 point scale system and the 5 point scale system

  1. In the four point scale system, Grade A is assigned a point of 4 whereas in the 5 point scale system, Grade A is assigned a point of 5.
  2. The four point scale system does not award a pass degree while the 5 point scale system awards a pass degree to holders of 1.0 – 1.49 cumulative grades.

The Four Point Grade System

Under the four point grade system, the grade ranges used for students are as follows;

  • A = 70 and above   Excellent
  • B = 60 – 69  Very good
  • C = 50 – 59  Credit
  • D = 45 – 49  Pass
  • E = 40 – 44  Fail

Cumulative grade point average (CGPA) ranges under the four point grading scale for classification of degrees

  • 3.5 – 4.0 – First class honours
  • 3.0 – 3.49 – second class honours (upper division)
  • 2.0 – 2.49 – Second class honours (lower division)
  • 1.0 – 1.99 – Third class honours

The Five Point Grading System

Under the five point grading system, the grade ranges used are;

  • A = 70 and above   Excellent
  • B = 60 – 69  Very good
  • C = 50 – 59  Credit
  • D = 45 – 49 Pass
  • E = 40 – 44 Pass
  • F = 0 – 39   Fail

The cumulative grade point average (CGPA) ranges under the five point grading scale for classification of degrees

  • 4.50 – 5.00    First class honours
  • 3.50 – 4.49    Second class honours (upper division)
  • 2.40 – 3.49    Second class honours (lower division)
  • 1.50 – 2.39    Third class honours
  • 1.00 – 1.49    Pass degree

How to calculate CGPA

Every course/subject in the university carries a fixed number of credit units (CU). Quality points are gotten by multiplying the credit units for a particular course by the grade points earned by a student in that course.

In a five point grading system

  • A = 5 points
  • B = 4 points
  • C = 3 points
  • D = 2 points
  • E = 1 point
  • F = 0 point

Assuming a student offers five (5) courses in a semester and each course carries a credit unit of 3 units, the total credit units for that semester would be 15 course units (3 unit course each multiplied by the number of courses). Let’s say the student scored A, B, C, D and E grades respectively in those 5 courses.

Course Credit unit Grade Grade point Quality point Total points
MAN101 3 A 5 3 x 5 15
ACC101 3 B 4 3 x 4 12
PSY101 3 C 3 3 x 3 9
GSP101 3 D 2 3 x 2 6
PHIL101 3 E 1 3 x 1 3
Total credit units 15 45

The CGPA is derived by dividing the Total points by the total credit units for the semester which is 45/15 = 3.0

If this was to be a CGPA of a final year student, it means that under a 5 point grade scale, the student would graduate with a second class honour (lower division).

Grade point average (GPA) and CGPA are calculated the same way. However, the GPA is calculated for shorter periods such as one semester while the CGPA is calculated for a longer period such as a full academic session.

In a four point grading system;

  • A = 4
  • B = 3
  • C = 2
  • D = 1
  • E = 0

The calculation is carried out in the same way as the 5 point scale. The only difference is the change in the individual grade points.

Unclassified Or Ungraded Degree Results

A degree in a university is usually obtained by studying for a number of years in that institution. The number of years spent in the university is dependent on the course a student chooses to study.

Most art courses are studied for four (4) years, some science courses for five (5) years and other science courses such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine are studied for six (6) years.

Unlike other faculties where students are graded with the CGPA method, students of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry are given unclassified results. The results of medical students are presented as pass, fail or distinction.

In all courses of Medicine, the pass mark is 50% while a distinction requires one to score 70% and above. Any score below 50% is regarded as a fail mark.

At graduation, they do not graduate with honours such as first class or second class honours but with a pass or distinction award. This is referred to as an unclassified degree result.

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