By Dr Shehzad Jeeva, Dr Naveed Yousuf and Hanif Shariff Every year around 4.0 million students in Pakistan of grades 9 to 12 appear for high-stakes board examinations. Based on their, the system awards marks to the student that determines students’ promotion to the next level. The students know that their self-esteem is at stake. Institutions and society, in general, all judge students’ intelligence based on the scores awarded to them. When we speak with school leaders and teachers, parents, and students, everyone seems to be in a race for marks. Students scoring 59.9% are desperate to get one more mark to get 60% which is a cut-off for many universities’ admission test criteria. While those students scoring 79.9% or 69.9% send requests for an additional mark to obtain an A-1 or A grade. (Sometimes, we question, is there something wrong with the official grading system of our education system? Is there a way to fix the grading system? Let’s first understand what educational assessment is? Educational assessments measure the extent to which learners have acquired knowledge, skills, and understanding in a particular field, together with their ability to apply what they have learned. The outcome of an assessment may be reported as a mark, grade, or simply as a pass or fail. When the outcome of an assessment is pass or fail, for example, with a driving test, a pass result indicates that the learner is competent and has reached the minimum standard required to drive. But it does not indicate whether the learner excels as a driver. When results are reported as grades, each grade indicates how well the learner has demonstrated mastery of the required knowledge, skills, and understanding and how well they can apply them, whereas, higher grades denote that student has achieved a higher standard. There is no definitive set of international standards in education, in terms of grading standards. We have reviewed grading standards of over 30 countries, and have found that the assessment standards across the globe are not similar. It seems that if there’s a perfect grading system, educational assessment experts are still looking for one. However, to reach close to perfectness, a system should have a reliable, valid, and fair assessment system. There are two types of grading systems, ‘Criterion Reference’ and ‘Norm Reference.’ Both grading systems serve a unique purpose for a given test. For example, criterion reference, the most commonly used system, is designed to measure performance against specific criteria, that is, curriculum. While ‘Norm Reference,’ also known as ‘Relative Grading,’ refers to standardized tests designed to rank and compare test-takers with one another. The norm-referenced tests are usually based on some form of national standards and not the curriculum. IQ tests are among the most common form of norm reference tests. In Pakistan, criterion reference is used for high stake examinations of grades 9 to 12. Students’ abilities are assessed against the given curriculum in the board examinations, and the scores are shown against each subject. Based on the performance on each subject, an overall or a total score is shown, which is defined by alphabetical grade (A-1, A, B, C, D, E, or F), where A-1 is the highest standard while F is a fail. The 7-level grading system has an A-1 grade boundary with a range of 20%, from 80% to 100%. In comparison, all other levels (grades A to E) except grade F (0-33%) have a cut-off grade boundary/ interval of 10%. Pakistan needs to fix its educational assessment grading system to match it to the international best practices. Instead of a 7- level grading system, the A-1 grade should be split into two grades. The splitting of the A-1 grade will improve the assessment standards by having an 8-level grading system with a cut-off grade boundary range of 10% for all alphabetic grades. Further splitting of the grades to nine or more grade levels can be done for improving the standards. The grading system can be further improved in which only the subject’s grades are shown in the transcript. The current practice of showing scores and total marks in the transcripts should be abolished as it creates negative pressure on students to compete against each other for every mark. As the government is currently developing an assessment framework as a part of its activity under the Single National Curriculum, we hope that these recommendations will result in a public debate to help the government make a better decision. Meanwhile, there has been an ongoing discussion in Pakistan to shift from criterion reference to a relative grading system. The information shared in this article should help the experts and public to decide which type of grading system to consider.