The UK Marking System from an American's Point of View
If you were an American student, you probably wouldn't be jumping for joy upon receiving a 66% on an exam or essay. The American marking system ranges from 0-100, where 90-100 is an A, 80-90 is a B, 70-80 is a C, 60-70 is a D, and anything below 60 is an F for failing. The B - C range is considered average, although many achieving Americans like myself can score in the 80s and 90s (and even 100s!) pretty easily, with a bit of effort.
This being said, you can imagine my surprise when I received a 69% on my first assignment that I submitted here in London. I had been warned ahead of time that the American and British marking systems couldn't be compared side by side, but just the number alone made me feel disheartened. I shared my mark with a few British friends, but they all told me that it was a very good mark.
At first I didn't understand: how could 69% be good? And that's when I was told that a 70% on anything is excellent, so I was only one point away from that. A 70% and above is considered a first class distinction. Generally, 60% to 69% is considered "merit" or a 2:1 (second class upper level distinction), and a 50-59% is a 2:2 (second class lower level distinction).
Here is the grading scale that my lecturers use to grade our coursework: