What is an F on a Report Card?

what is an F on a report card, what does an F mean, and how does an F grade impact your GPA and transcript

What is an F on a report card? F is the failing grade, the lowest grade in the grading system, and equivalent to a 0.0 GPA.

If a child or friend is dealing with an F, we’ve also written up some advice for students and parents on how to communicate and deal with a disappointing report card.

Why is F the failing grade?

Why do schools use F instead of E? Well, F is the failing grade because E might be mistaken for “Excellent”, and F also alliterates with a failing grade.

While E might not be confusing these days, it could easily have been confused when the A, B, C, D, F system was first coming into popularity. One popular system until the mid-20th century was:

  • E (excellent)
  • S (satisfactory)
  • N (needs improvement)
  • U (unsatisfactory)

There was a rather long time period in which both grading systems were in use. This means an E would have been very confusing, as it would have been the highest grade at some schools and the lowest grade in others.

Even today, E still stands for excellent in many schools in other countries, such as the UK and New Zealand.

What is an F on a report card, and what does an F grade mean?

An F letter grade means that a student failed a particular assignment, exam, paper, or course.

At most schools, F is used to represent scores between 0-59, with 60 marking the beginning of D territory (or D- if your school uses a plus and minus system).

Can you get an F minus?

Most institutions do not give an F plus or F minus, even if they use plus and minus with the other grades.

The reason for this is that F already represents a 0.0 GPA and a failing grade. An F plus would be almost insulting, in a “you got close but still failed” kind of way.

An F minus, on the other hand, would definitely be insulting. Isn’t it bad enough to give a student an F without throwing the minus in there?

For these reasons, most schools do not give F+ or F- grades, simply giving an F for a failing grade.

Is F plus an actual grade?

It shouldn’t be, but yes, some institutions use F plus as an actual grade. Even at these institutions, an F plus is still a failing grade.

When is the report card coming out?

According to Wikipedia, most schools send out report cards one to four times per school year.

Most schools have websites and/or student portals where you can see the report card dates. A quick web search for your school’s name plus “report card” might lead you to the right page.

Is 60% an F?

If you’ve just received a score of 60%, there’s (kind of) good news. Most schools assign F for grades between 0-59, while 60 will usually earn you a D or D minus.

Schools do sometimes use unconventional grading systems, so you’ll need to consult your school’s grading scale to be sure.

In most cases, however, 60% is not an F.

The bad news is that some schools do not consider D a passing grade. Some colleges, for example, may allow you to pass a general education course with a D, but require a C- or above for classes in your major.

Schools may also require you to graduate with an average in the C range, even if D is not a failing grade for individual classes.

Can you pass a college class with an F?

No, you can’t pass a college class with an F. Some schools allow you to pass with a D, while others require at least a C-.

Schools are fairly uniform, however, on treating F as the lowest letter grade, showing that a student scored between 0-59 and failed the assignment, exam, or class.

What is an F on a report card? Do Fs count in GPA?

Yes, Fs count and significantly affect your GPA, as Fs equate to a 0.0 on the GPA scale.

Even though you do not receive credit for failed courses (Fs), the attempted credits are still included in your GPA calculation, with the 0.0 GPA of F given to those attempted credits.

At some schools, it may be possible to remove the F from your GPA by retaking the course and earning a higher grade.

How does an F grade affect GPA?

A simple grade formula might look like this mathematically:

(grades * attempted credits) / attempted credits = GPA

In this equation, a simple 4.0 scale might have A as 4, B as 3, C as 2, D as 1, and F as 0. More complex grading scales still use variations of this equation.

As we mentioned in an answer above, GPA includes all attempted credits, and that includes failed classes. Therefore, the F will still calculate into your GPA even though you don’t get credit for completing the course.

How low will my GPA drop if I get an F?

Unfortunately, an F can quickly drop a great GPA into average territory. We’ll give a couple examples using our simple grading scale above of A as 4, B as 3, C as 2, D as 1, and F as 0.

If a student took five courses in one semester and earned 4 A grades and 1 F grade, their GPA would be four times four, plus one times zero, divided by the total number of courses (five). That comes out to 16/5, for a 3.2 GPA.

In the above example, one F out of five classes drops a perfect 4.0 GPA down to a 3.2. We could also use an 10-course example, with 9 B grades and 1 F grade.

In this case, the equation would equal 9 times 3, plus 1 times 0, for a total of 27/10. In this example, the one failed course would bring down a student’s 3.0 GPA down to a 2.7.

An F isn’t insurmountable and it’s no reason to lose heart, but an F will significantly drop a student’s grade point average.

How does an F affect your transcript?

At the college level, some institutions will expunge your F if you retake the class and pass it. At others, the F will still remain on your transcript.

While an F never looks good on a transcript, you can absolutely overcome this by earning good grades in other courses.

If you think the F will look bad for a grad school application or job application, you can address it directly in an essay. You could write or talk about that experience and how you learned, grew, rose to the challenge, and became a stronger person, student, or employee through it.

So yes, an F is bad for your transcript, but you can overcome it. There’s also a possibility to get it expunged at some colleges by retaking the failed course.

Does an F affect your GPA if you retake a class?

At some schools, an F still affects your GPA if you retake a class. However, other schools have a more lenient policy and will expunge the failed grade if you retake and pass the course.

Before going to the trouble of retaking the specific course you failed, it’s important to find out what your school’s specific policy is on retaking failed courses and calculating GPA.

How do I get rid of an F on my transcript?

At some schools, there is no way to get rid of an F on your transcript, unfortunately. At other schools, the only way to get rid of an is to retake and pass the course you failed.

You can also get rid of an F and potentially get a D (or higher) by appealing the grade. An appeal will usually go to your teacher or professor’s supervisor, and may be reviewed by a committee.

If you want to give a successful appeal, you’ll need to give compelling reasons why you deserve to receive a higher grade.

If you believe the teacher or professor targeted you specifically and gave you an unfair grade, you’ll want to be very specific in presenting your evidence.

You’ll need as much documentation as you can muster in this case, and testimony or statements from other classmates who witnessed unfair treatment is important too.

Is an F or W better on a transcript?

Is an F better than an incomplete? Simply, no. A W is better than an F in almost all circumstances.

One reason is that a W usually does not impact your GPA at all, whereas an F can single-handedly do a lot of damage to your hard-earned GPA.

In some cases, a W may be better than a D, and it’s always better than an F. Some administrations can also see a W as standing for wisdom. A W shows that a student saw an upcoming problem, looked ahead, and dealt with the problem early by withdrawing.

While grad schools may pay more attention to W grades, employers often just look at one number—your GPA. As W grades don’t hurt your GPA, these are a much better option than taking an F.

What is an F on a report card, and what does FIN mean on a report card?

FIN on a report card means incomplete changed to failed. For most purposes, a FIN is just as bad as an F on a report card, and negatively impacts your GPA (calculated at 0.0).

What does WU mean on a report card?

WU stands for withdrawal unauthorized, and is treated the same as a failing F grade for most intents and purposes.

A WU grade counts as 0.0 on the GPA scale, the same as an F.

There are, however, authorized withdrawals (W), which do not negatively affect your GPA.

What is an F on a report card?

So what is an F on a report card? Well, it’s a disappointing failed class, but it’s not a mark of your academic future, and it’s not a mark of your worth as a human being.

We’ve written another article on how to handle an F, communicate about it with those you need to, and avoid it happening in the future.

We’re rooting for you, and we wish you the best in your bright future!