Written by Guest blogger
I am Bruna Tolomeli from Brazil studying a Master’s in Post Production Editing. I have been here at BU since September 2017. Studying in a foreign country comes with various factors to which one has to adapt. Apart from having to get used to a different culture, weather and people, there are smaller factors that we don’t necessarily take into consideration before choosing to study abroad, such as the grading and assessment systems.
Before coming to study in the UK, I had countless questions. I was particularly concerned about the weather because I come from a tropical country. The grading system was a factor that never really crossed my mind before having the shock of my first assessment.
Brazil: fly high to shine
In Brazil, we are used to having a grade system from zero to ten, the latter being the highest grade possible. At university, Lecturers are used to giving higher grades to students. They also assess you mostly with exams and group projects. There is usually one week in which we have all of our exams, or one month with exams spread throughout it. The exams are often based on the entire subject taught by the teacher. Students need to be prepared to answer any question related to their lessons.
UK: get a Merit with a 60% grade
In the UK, the grade system is different. It is from zero to 100 percent. Postgraduates need to have a percentage of 50% or higher in order to pass. From 50 to 59% the student passes with a Lower Second (2ii); from 60-69% with a Merit or Upper Second (2i); from 70-79% with a Distinction (First); from 80% it is considered a High Distinction (High First). It sounds confusing when heard for the first time, but soon it all becomes clear and a familiar system.
Essays: the choice of writing about what interests you is priceless
In the UK I work on essays for all of my subjects. It is interesting because we don’t necessarily need to write our essays about something we have learnt in our lectures. In that way, it is easier to enjoy studying and writing because we have the opportunity to choose subjects that we are passionate about. I prefer doing essays as opposed to taking exams because the pressure of taking an exam is higher and requires not only studying but also memorizing.
Don’t cry over a 70% grade!
I believe what has made it harder for me to accept the UK grading system is not the system itself, but what British people consider a good grade. For me in Brazil if the highest grade is ten, it means that it is actually possible to achieve it, whereas in the UK getting 100% is nearly impossible. Nonetheless, above 70% is considered an amazing grade in the UK! When I got my first feedback and had 70%, my first reaction was to be disappointed. When I showed it to my friends, everyone was happy about it. I had to understand this and accept that the grading system is completely different from the one in Brazil and I adapted my expectations accordingly.
Each country has their own peculiarities regarding grading and assessments systems. When choosing to study abroad one should learn about them beforehand in order to avoid a shock when receiving your first assessment. Nevertheless, it is easy to adapt to, especially when you have a University that supports you and guide you along the way as BU does.
By Bruna Tolomeli, Brazil, MA in Post Production Editing, 2017/18