Study Abroad Series: 27 Italian Grade

In Italy, each course used a 30-point scale. 30 was the highest grade. Lower than 18 was fail.

One thing that I liked most was students had 3 chances to take an exam. If student failed or was not ready, they would still have 2 more chances. But if we got a bad grade, we had to take it. Some students intended to fail for the first time; they just wanted to see the questions. So, they could get a good grade for the next time (the questions were not the same).

I did not want to get good grades, so I just did my best. Intending to fail for the first time had never been in my thought.

First semester, there were 4 courses. One of them did not have grade, just either pass or failed. For the others, I got 30, 28, and 26.

Wow!!! It was great. This was what I thought before I knew the grade conversion system.

One of my friends told me that for this university 28 equaled C. Only 30 would get A.



I, then, searched the university’s website and the table below showed how the Italian grade was converted to European grade or European credit transfer and accumulation system (ECTS).

Italian Grade ECTS Grade
30/30 cum laude A
29/30 – 30/30 B
26/30 – 28/30 C
21/30 – 25/30 D
18/30 – 20/30 E

I was stunned. So, I got one A and two Cs. So cruel!!!

But the website also explained the reason why they converted the grade like this. It showed the percentage of students who got 30 and it was not a small portion. Well, I did not know where the numbers came from, but some courses that I studied no one got 30!

Whatever, I did not care much about the grade. I learned one important thing which was the attitude toward fail.

Fail for the exam is a big deal for many Thai. It means students are not smart. But in Italy, I feel that fail means we are not ready for the exam or we are not strong in the subject, and what students need to do is study and take an exam again.

I saw friends who failed for the first exam and got very good grade from the second exam; the grade was better than the one who passed since the first exam.

It would be good if students have 3 chances to take an exam, and if many Thai change the attitude toward fail.

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