Pass score, Pass mark, cut-off point

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Silverobama, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

    Generally speaking, the full score of the paper exam in China is 100, and sixty, namely 60, is the so-called "pass score", "pass mark". But I vaguely remember that I used to ask one of my teacher who came from USA, he told me in some of the western countries, the only do SAT, they have Grade A, B, C rather than the score.

    Now I have question, can I say the score sixty in Chinese paper exam "pass score" or "pass mark"?

    Once I asked someone, I can't recall now, he said you can use "cut-off point", is it workable? Personally, I think "cut-off point" is too general.

    May I have your opinion?

  2. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    In the UK we say "pass mark". However, most school examinations are graded as A, B, C etc. In the past we could easily discover the range of marks that applied to each grade, but now things are more complex - the results get better every year, so either the pass mark goes down, the exams get easier or the children get cleverer.

    We don't use cut-off point to describe exam marks.
  3. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I guess I understand what you mean, if one says "exam score is 100" then we say the "pass score is, for example, 60.", when one says "exam mark is 100" then we say "pass mark is, for example, 60."
  4. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    The maximum available mark in the exam is 100, the pass mark is 60. In BE we do not say exam score, but if score is used in other countries it would be consistent to say exam score and pass score.
  5. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Yeah, once my teach who was from USA told me the word "score", so maybe we can wait for some American friend's idea.
  6. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't think we say that 'the exam mark is 100'. I might say that the maximum mark is 100, or that the exam is marked out of 100 marks, or that the full mark is 100. And yes, I'd say that the pass mark was 60.

    These days, however, the pass mark is often variable and is often adjusted according to how easy or difficult an exam is. I am involved in exams at university level, and I have to determine the cut-off for A, B, C, etc. grades, so I might tell the clerk in the office that the cut-off mark for a B grade is 65 for one exam, and it is 62 for another because it was more difficult. So the term is certainly used too.

    I have often heard Americans talk about points rather than marks.
  7. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    It's a little difficult, Silver, since the marking methods keep changing--and in the US, there has always been variation among schools.

    Most of the American advisers here, I think, are no longer students; I don't know how many might be teachers by profession. I think you will receive definitive answers only from those in the US who are currently either students or teachers.
  8. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    "Pass mark is 60%" should be fiarly clear to everyone and obviates the need to specify the maximum score.
  9. mathman Senior Member

    near boston
    English-American/New England
    In the US, we don't usually use "mark" when a numerical grade is given (we don't generally use "mark" for grades of any sort). We usually call them "points," or don't call them anything, and refer to this number as your "score" on the exam. They correspond loosely to your "grade" on the exam, but a "grade" usually means a letter grade (A, B, etc.) or a numerical grade (4.0,3.7,3.5, etc.). I suppose someone could say that they got a grade of 78 on an exam, but I would find that a little unusual.

    Here are the ways I would say this (assuming there are 100 points on the exam; if there are not, then append "%" to the numbers below):

    The maximum score is 100. The passing score is 60 (Or: 60 is passing).

    The maximum score is 100. You need 60 to pass.

    The most you can get (or: the best you can do/get) on the exam is 100. If you get 60 or better, you pass.

    The maximum score is 100. The cut-off for passing is 60.

    The maximum number of points you can get on the exam is 100. To pass, you need 60 points.

    Passing is typically 60%, but there is no requirement that this be the case, and different educational institutions (and different teachers) may have different criteria for a passing score.

    There may be a couple of other ways of saying this, but these are the ones I usually use (I am a college professor who has just given several midterms).
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  10. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Oxnard, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I've heard "cut score" before, but I am fairly certain it applied to a pass/fail exam. Anything below the cut score failed--anything at or above it passed.

    Edit: Yeah, here's a quote from the California DMV:
    "In practice, there is no longer a pass/fail cut score, and the unguided field office technician is solely responsible for determining whether a customer 'passes' or 'fails' the written knowledge test."

    Beyond that, I agree with the math man. 60 is passing (with a D), 70 is a C, 80 is a B, 90 is an A.

    The score for the SAT is not broken up into letter grades, and there is no cut-off score you have to hit in order to pass. I just wanted to be clear on that point: feel free to PM me about how they work if your understanding was otherwise.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  11. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

    Thanks a lot, Pa.

    It seems that I haven't fully expressed my idea, or misinterpreted what I wanted to say.

    No matter how the score system changes, let us just lay it aside, I agree with NAT, in China, we would also more or less change the passing score due to the unpredictability of the paper exam, but here I want to know how to express.

    For example,

    The full mark is 100, normally, 60 means one passes the exam. Similarly, The full mark is also 100, but because the exam is very difficult, maybe 40 means one can pass the exam.

    My question is, how to say "60" and "40" in this situation, so according to many friends from everywhere, I guess "passing mark, pass mark" are very popular.

    Dear Pa, thank you once more, I hope my explanation could somewhat help you to understand my poor English.
  12. Havfruen Senior Member

    English - American
    On the first exam, the minimum passing score was 60 points out of 100 or 60%.
    For the second exam, the lowest passing score was 40 points out of 100, or 40%.

    We don't say mark in US.
  13. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    We use the term 'mark' here, but the most common way to express what you are talking about is called a 'passing grade' or simply 'passing.'

    The test was very difficult. 45 was considered passing.
    Billy almost failed the test. He barely got a passing grade.
  14. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

    Thanks a lot, you use "minimum" and "lowest", so do you indeed just want to avoid the redundancy of one word? And actually, there is no difference between "minimum" and "lowest" here.
  15. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Oh, now I see what you mean. (Sorry that I didn't earlier!) In my experience, the commonly understood phrase would be passing grade.
  16. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

    Never mind, you do help me a lot, by the way, can I know the reason why here you use "grade"? will it be too general?

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