Grading systems in Poland and France27. 9. 13
I'm a Vietnamese student of Informatics who came to Poland about four months ago. I was accepted into the PJWSTK University in Warsaw. Before that I was in south of France, studying a similar discipline in a French university. I've been sort of a nomad all my life, due to my parent's work as diplomats, so I didn't have too much trouble blending in and getting to know the system in each country.
I find the differences in grading systems between Poland and France fascinating. In Poland, the marks are from 2-5. In order to validate the semester, you would have to pass all subjects which means achieving at least a 3 on every subject. For every failed subject, you have to retake it; if you fail the year you have to retake all the subjects the next year.
The French system has a different approach. First of all the marks are from 0 – 20. In order to validate the semester, you need the average of all subjects to be at least 10/20. That means you don't have to pass all the subjects, since subjects that you get higher marks on can compensate for the subjects for which you get lower marks. Also, you don't have to retake the subject that you received the below average mark in if the average of the semester is 10 or higher.
As far as retaking exams is concerned, in Poland, depending on the decisions of the school, some subjects might take the average of the original exam mark and the retake mark; in some cases the retake can lower your total mark. This is not the case in France, as retakes are only taken into account if the mark is higher than that of the first exam. So retakes are 'safer' for students in France.
Nevertheless, the French marking system has changed quite often. From my first year to my last in France, the system changed twice, specifically in regards to the policy of compensating two semesters in one year (I will explain what this means).
Currently, you can compensate between semesters of the year in order to validate that year, so for example, if you have an 8/20 the first semester and a 12/20 the second, you successfully validated the year and get full credits for it. During my first year, this wasn't allowed. Instead, you had to validate both semesters in order to pass the year. However, even if you got lower than 10/20, you were still allowed to go to the next year, but you were “in debt”, which means you'd have to retake any failed subjects and get a high enough mark in it to increase the average mark of the previous year to at least 10/20.
The French university I was attending was actually very active in reviewing its grading policies and was looking to improve them. On the other hand, in Poland, it seems like the same grading system has been in place for years. I remember discussing Polish universities’ grading policies with my father, who graduated from SGH University roughly 40 years ago, and it seems that the grading system wasn't much different from the way it is today.Both the French and Polish systems promote different things, and each has pros and cons for the students.
While the Polish grading system seems more demanding at first glance, it doesn't promote getting higher marks since you only need a 3 on every subject to pass. Of course, it is the student's duty to try and master each subject, and I find the French system more encouraging of the student to try and get higher marks in subjects that he or she is good at. This system promotes a specialist view, as it gives the student the freedom to choose which subject he or she would like to devote more time to. On the other hand, the Polish grading system promotes a more generalist view, in which the student needs to grasp all the important concepts that are proposed, and this helps him or her be more polyvalent in his/her field.
I have been graded in both system and there are things I like from both, and I would like to share these comparisons to my fellow foreign students in Warsaw as well as hear their experiences.
I am still not sure if I want to stay in Warsaw—it is too early for me right now to decide. However, I would love to live a few years in other countries in Europe and then compare it with Poland.
Binh 24 years, 3 years in Poland