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In Japan, each school has a different grading system. Many universities use the following set of categories:

Grade in Japanese (Kanji) English translation Corresponding percentage 4-scale university
shū (秀) Exemplary, excellent S (90–100%), rarely given S (90–100%), rarely given
(優) Very good A (80–89%) A (80–89%)
ryō (良) Good B (70–79%) B (70–79%)
ka (可) Average, pass C (60–69%) C (60–69%)
nin (認)[a] Approved, acceptable D (50–59%), uncommon D (50–59%), uncommon
fuka (不可) Unacceptable, failed F (0–59% or 0–49%) F (0–59% or 0–49%)

Education in Japan has many different ways of approaching their grading system.

Public schooling below the high school level is classified as compulsory education (義務教育, gimu-kyōiku), and every Japanese child is required to attend school until they pass middle school.[1] An interesting phenomenon is that even if an individual student fails a course, they may pass with their class regardless of grades on tests. The grades on tests have no effect on schooling until taking entrance exams to get into high school.

The motivation behind Japanese children's report card is not the grade, but their behavior "because the report card in modern Japan shows and evaluates more children's attitudes in their school life than their academic grades (Gordenker, 2001; Murata & Yamaguchi, 2010)."[2] For example, Japanese students are graded how they greet each other in the morning, if they remember their supplies, and how they treat plants and animals.[2]

High school level

In order to attend high school in Japan, younger students must pass an entrance exam and if they do not pass, then they are not allowed to go to high school.

Parents often send their children to cram schools (, Juku) or private schools, for test training purposes.[3]

Most high schools in Japan have a numerical grading system from 5 to 1 with 5 being the highest grade and 1 being the lowest.[4]

University level

Like the high school level, Japanese students must pass a standardized test to be accepted into a university.

Most national universities employ a 4-scale grading system (only with A, B, C and F). Below-average students are given an F, and are encouraged to retake the same subject(s) in the following semesters.

GPA is a simple numerical representation of college results in Japan. As of 2014, 497 Japanese universities use this system.[5] University grades are determined by a score between 0 and 100. This score (GPA) is determined by the total of three points: "test score", "attendance score", and "report score". (Example: Test score [65 points] + attendance point [20 points] + report score [10] = 95)

Some professors are only based on test scores, while others are based on report scores and attendance points. In addition, universities evaluate kanji for "Hide" or "Yu" or English for "S" or "A" according to their scores.

For universities, graduation requires a minimum of 124 credits and the required number of credits for each university. To earn 1 credit, 45 hours of study time is required, including preparation and review time.[6]


  1. ^ Nin or (合) is sometimes used in the event of passing without grading, such as through credit transfer.


  1. ^ SATO, Manabu (2008). "Historical Aspects of the Concept of "Compulsory Education" : Rethinking the Rhetoric of Debates in Current Reform". Educational Studies in Japan. 3: 65–84. doi:10.7571/esjkyoiku.3.65. ISSN 1881-4832.
  2. ^ a b Watabe, Akiko, and David R Hibbard. "The Influence of Authoritarian and Authoritative Parenting on Children's Academic Achievement Motivation: a Comparison Between the United States and Japan." North American journal of psychology 16.2 (2014): 359–. Print.
  3. ^ Mawer, Kim (June 2015). "Casting new light on shadow education: snapshots of juku variety". Contemporary Japan. 27 (2): 131–148. doi:10.1515/cj-2015-0008. ISSN 1869-2729.
  4. ^ "What is the Education System in Japan? | FAIR Study in Japan". Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  5. ^ "Grading Standards (GPA System) | Registration / Syllabuses | Course Registration | Student Life | KYUSHU UNIVERSITY". 九州大学(KYUSHU UNIVERSITY). Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  6. ^ "大学の成績の評価での『優』の位置づけは?". 鳳凰の羽 (in Japanese). 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2020-01-20.