Average entering grade now 85%

Marks needed to get into university keep going up


The average grade of high school students entering universities in their home provinces hit 85% in 2012, according to data from 48 universities published in the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings. The 2008 Maclean’s University Rankings, which used grade data mostly from 2007, showed an entering average of 83% across 42 universities. That’s an increase of two per cent in five years.

There are surprising regional differences too. Only four of the 42 schools considered in the 2008 rankings had lower entering grades in 2012 but three of them were in Quebec: Montréal, Sherbrooke and Bishop’s. The fourth was Saint Mary’s in Halifax, N.S. And only four schools improved their average grades by more than three per cent. Again, a regional pattern emerges: three out of four are in British Columbia: UBC, UNBC and SFU. The fourth is Waterloo. Particularly eye-catching is the number of students at these schools with averages of more than 90%. At UBC the proportion with 90% or higher went from 30.8% in 2007 to 54.1% in 2012; at UNBC from 19.3% to 34.1%; at SFU it from 15.7% to 39.5% and at Waterloo from 26.5% to 44.8%

Students with B averages shouldn’t worry too much though. More than 21 universities’ entering classes comprise at least 10 per cent students who had less than 75% in high school. Six had entering classes that were more than a quarter students with less than 75%. To see the grade distribution of the entering classes at all 49 ranked schools, consult the 2014 University Rankings.

In the meantime, here is the average high school (in Quebec CÉGEP) entering grade for first-year students in 2012 with 2007 in parentheses. Schools highlighted in blue have increased their average entering grade by more than three per cent. Those in red saw their average entering grade fall.

McGill 90.3 (89.6)

UBC 89.6 (86.3)

Queen’s 88.7 (87.7)

Waterloo 88.4 (85.1)

Western 88.2 (86.0)

Saskatchewan 88.1 (87.6)

Simon Fraser 87.9 (83.4)

Montréal 87.6 (87.9)

Manitoba 87.4 (84.8)

McMaster 86.8 (84.1)

Alberta 86.6 (86.1)

Mount Allison 86.3 (85.6)

UQAM 86.2 (n/a)

Sherbrooke 85.9 (86.9)

Acadia 85.7 (84.9)

Toronto 85.5 (83.4)

St. Francis Xavier 85.4 (84.5)

Laval 85.3 (n/a)

UNBC 85.1 (81.5)

UPEI 85.1 (84.4)

Regina 85.1 (84.3)

Cape Breton 84.4 (82.5)

Moncton 84.4 (n/a)

New Brunswick 84.4 (83.4)

St. Thomas 84.3 (83.3)

Victoria 84.3 (83.9)

Calgary 84.1 (83.1)

Bishop’s 83.4 (84.3)

Carleton 83 (82.1)

Mount Saint Vincent 82.9 (82.9)

Ottawa 82.9 (81.5)

Concordia 82.7 (n/a)

Ryerson 82.4 (80.3)

Wilfrid Laurier 82.3 (82.2)

Winnipeg 82.2 (80.8)

Guelph 82.1 (80.9)

York 82.1 (81.6)

Memorial 81.5 (80.6)

Brock 81.2 (79)

Laurentian 81 (79.4)

Lethbridge 80.7 (79.6)

Brandon 80.1 (n/a)

Trent 80 (77.9)

Saint Mary’s 79.9 (80.2)

Nipissing 79.8 (78.7)

Windsor 79.7 (79.3)

Lakehead 79.3 (78)

UOIT 77.8 (n/a)

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Average entering grade now 85%

  1. The numbers are meaningless.

    “In the 1960s, average performers in Ontario were C-students, while A-students were considered exceptional. As of 2007, 90% of Ontario students have a B average or above.” (Wikipedia)

    “As of 2007, more than 60 per cent of Ontario high school graduates had an A average, and 10 per cent had a A+ average. That’s up from 40 per cent in 1980” (Globe and Mail).

    The grades are just going up and up. And it’s not because the students are getting smarter!

    • As a high school educator I have to say that many high school educators have spoken about this but have little choice but to provide as demanded. We see a rising tide of anti teacher sentiment where one has to be made of steel to teach university entrance classes and maintain course integrity.That said there is of course a growing number of those who have no problem easy marking.What me worry?!

    • Agreed.

    • Very good point.

  2. I wouldn’t take this too seriously. Grade inflation is rampant in high schools these days, a good chunk of these “A” students will be dropping out after first year.

    • Even with students dropping out after the first year.
      Universities are graduating too many students.
      A lot of university graduates are having trouble breaking into a career.

  3. I have been teaching grade twelve university level courses for the last twelve years. I am sad to say that these averages mean very little. In so many ways teachers have lost all control over what happens in the classroom. Over the course of my career I have seen class averages go up 10%. At our school if you have a class average lower than a 75% you get hauled into the office and get questioned by administration. We have taken 9 texts off of the course of study over a 4 year program and accept assignments whenever they come in. There is no dignity in what we do anymore. As a result, we are breading a generation of people who have a false sense of what they are really capable of.

    • That’s really unfortunate and does not help the student at all in preparation for what’s to come if they choose to pursue it. My high school didn’t do me any favours either. Being at The University of Toronto has definitely been a reality check in regards to how work is marked. Never have I worked so hard for a B in all my life.

  4. I totally agree with the last comment!!! I too have seen marks being inflated and texts being taken off of courses. We are giving our youth a false sense of their true abilities! 80% today does not mean what it used to. Universities have no choice but to raise their entrance averages to account for some of the difference.

  5. I totally agree with the last comment! I too have been teaching University prep courses for upwards of twelve years and have had similar experiences. I have witnessed texts disappearing, marks being inflated, content being reduced etc. When will this stop? Universities have no choice but to increase entrance requirements to account for what is happening at the high school level.

  6. I am high school math teacher and has taught grade 12 courses. These marks are meaningless as they vary from class to class and school to school. There is a tremendous variation in the difficulty of the same course taught at different locations. Students can take the same course in summer school or on line and get as much as 15% more marks. The first solution could be a province wide final exam to level the standards. The second possible solution could be a US style SAT exams. I know that neither will happen in Ontario where high graduation rates are achieved by continuous lowering standards. In fact in the applied level courses just showing up and doing bare minimum work will earn the students their credit without learning the material in any meaningful fashion. The pendulum has to swing to extreme mediocrity before government will “swing” into action. In the meantime keep your fingers crossed and hope outsourcing will keep us going!!

  7. Another high school teacher here, frustrated with the current system. I’ve worked in very small schools where I am the only math teacher, or maybe one of a pair. I teach the curriculum and mark as I see fit. I worry that my students will end up competing against students from other schools where teachers give marks out more generously.

    There is a solution. Canadian Universities need to come up with an entrance exam (like the SATs) that can be used along with high school marks for admission purposes. It’s not flawless, but it would put some consistency into the process.

    • Unfortunately it has been shown that SATs and GREs etc… demonstrate class, race and geographic privilege more than they measure students abilities…. Bring back grade thirteen…

  8. Having worked in two provinces and one territory, I am seriously worried about haw grade twelve is assessed. In BC, English is the only subject which appears to have a Provincial exam at this level.
    The Alberta Provincial exams, all core subjects at grade twelve level, are rigorous and externally marked. The Social Studies 30 is a very well designed exam which cannot be passed using rote learning. Application of knowledge is essential. In thos provinces where teachers assess the final grade for their own students, the pressure for grade inflation must be enormous. Somehow, we need to get beyond grades.

  9. It’s all a corporate strategy to merchandize education for the few in Canada to create elitism and pathological competition. The Quebec student strike denounce this strategy in 2012: Le Printemps Érables. But somme people never learn that cooperation and an equitable and accessible education for all creates at better country and better people.

  10. Also, University Administrators are using high entrance grades to calm faculty worries about aggressive recruitment strategies and larger Introductory courses. Unfortunately, we have been calmed…. I say bring back grade thirteen …. Intro classes at university can no longer transition students properly and four years of high school can no longer prepare them… Ontario privatized one year of high school and now we are all paying the price….

  11. This is a great eye opener. How do we as parents help our children succeed better when they get into university?

  12. None of this matters anyways.
    University diplomas will. be worthless, because university graduates would not be able to find jobs

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