Eli5: In American schools, the letter grading scheme is: A,B,C,D and F. Why did it skip the letter E?


I was wondering why the letter grading scheme is like this. Why did it skip the letter E?

In: Other

Originally the letter E was used for a failing grade but was eventually changed to F, for “Fail” – evidently there was some worry that students or parents might think E stood for Excellent instead of a failing mark. Some schools do still use E for Fail grades, but it’s a pretty small minority.

Quick history: One of the first schools that used a system similar to today’s A, B, C, D, F scale was Mount Holyoke College, which instituted it sometime in the 1880s. A was roughly equivalent to 100-95%, B was 94-85%, C was 84-76%, D was 75%, and everything below 75% was given an E and was considered a failing grade. They fiddled with the percentages a bit over the years and soon added F. This grading system proved popular and by the 1930s had been adopted by many other schools, which is when E started getting dropped to prevent the confusion mentioned above.