It's that dreaded week in Lyon where all the students are getting back tests that count for 50% of our grades. These difficult tests that comprise of written and even oral examinations based on information that is supposed to be memorized and regurgitated exactly as said.
The teacher begins by describing how some of us really sucked at the test and failed with a really awful note. He continues to rant on about the abilities we have to do better, some of us truly shined and many are in the middle. He is disappointed and he is proud.
In America we sweat it out, and receive it. The highest note a person can get is 100%; if a test, for example, is worth 20 points, a student could receive 20/20. Sometimes even more. This sets up American Expatriates- such as myself- to be shocked at the French system. It even led a fellow American friend of mine to cry at her 'awful horrible grade'.
The middle in the French Grading system is always based on 20- so the middle, AKA passing is 10/20. There are no letter grade "A" or "B". Simply a number out of 20. 10/20 means you are passing, but maybe just sliding by. (C)
Failure comes in under 10... if you received 9/20 or below.. you have failed. (F)
Good grade is 10/20 to 15/20. 15 is on the edge of a very good grade- an American equivalent to B to A-.
My poor friend cried when she saw 11/20; she didn't understand the culture and worse she couldn't. We are so conditioned to our 20/20's that we can't get a 11/20 being a good thing.
An AWESOME grade would be anything 16/20 and above. This is a solid A in American standards.
You Cannot Get 20
No matter how hard you try, you'll never be able to get 20. It's the whole French paradoxical rating system... they set the bar so high so it will always be a little under. If you tell a French person you want a 20/20, they will laugh, then say, 'bon chance' and laugh some more.
So. To sum it up:
9/20 and below: F
10/20 to 12/20: C
13/20 to 15/20: B
16/20 and up: A
Betcha you're wondering how I did?
I'm averaging 17/20 on my tests.. which is very very good. Most of this is due to the fact that my level n the CIEF is a little below my tasting. Either way that makes for lots of French practice and easy As!