Marks and national tests, lower secondary school

Updated: 17 November 2022

Next update: Not yet determined

Average overall achievement mark in mathematics
Average overall achievement mark in mathematics

About the statistics

The statistics contain results from national tests as well as marks upon completion of compulsory education. National tests assess the pupils’ skills in reading, mathematics and English. The statistics also contain data on overall achievement marks, examination marks and lower secondary school points in the 10th grade.

School county

Based on the school's address per 1.10 of the specific school year.


Schools are either privately owned or public schools (i.e., owned by the state, municipalities or counties).

Marks, lower secondary school

Overall achievement mark

The overall achievement mark in each subject is based on a broad evaluation of the pupil’s competence in the subject.

Marks are awarded on a scale from 1 to 6, where mark 6 indicates that the pupil holds exceptionally high competence, and 1 indicates that the pupil has attained little competence in the subject.

Examination mark

The examination marks are based on single tests and are included on the school-leaving certificate awarded to all pupils when they leave the 10-year compulsory school. Normally, pupils are tested by a written examination in Norwegian, English or mathematics, and by oral examination in one subject. The scale used is identical to the one applied for overall achievement marks.

Lower secondary school points

Lower secondary school points are a combined measurement for all marks. The lower secondary school point score summarizes the pupil’s results in all the different subjects and is part of the admission criteria for upper secondary school.

School points are calculated by adding up each individual mark and dividing the sum by the number of marks. This average, with two decimals, is multiplied by 10.

If the pupil has attained marks in less than half of his/her subjects, the lower secondary school point score is set to zero. In these statistics, pupils with zero school points are excluded.

National tests

Mastering levels

The mastering levels follow the guidelines given by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

There are three levels for 5th grade and five levels for 8th grade. The pupils are placed at the different levels based on the sum of their test scores.

Score points

In addition to mastering levels, the results can be measured in score points where the average in the scale is set at 50, with standard deviation 10.

The original points in the test are never comparable, as the test difficulty will differ from year to year.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training has therefore developed a common scale that describes the skills of the pupils with the same numbers, even though the pupils' results are from different tests. To get students' results on a comparable scale, an Item Response Theory (IRT) model is used. After that, students' results are converted to scale points, with the average set at 50.

You can read more about the mastering levels and what the national tests asses at The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (only in Norwegian).

Parents’ highest level of education is derived from register information in The National Education Database (NUDB).

Immigration category is coded according to Standard for immigration category 2008 . The term other pupils comprise the pupils in immigration categories A, D, E, F and G.

Grouping of countries is coded according to SSB's alternative grouping of countries:

  • Group 1: EU/EEA, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Group 2: Asia, Africa, Latin-America, Oceania except Australia and New Zealand, and Europe except EU/EEA.

The centrality of pupils' school municipality is coded according to the definitions in Centrality 2020.

Name: Marks and national tests, lower secondary school

Topic: Education

Not yet determined

Division for Education and Culture Statistics

National and county level.

Statistics on school and municipal level are available from the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.


Not relevant.

All education statistics at Statistics Norway is stored in a proper, standardized manner in consultation with the Data Inspectorate.

From December 2021, the statistics for National Tests and marks upon completion of compulsory education in Norway have been merged into one statistic, Marks and national tests, lower secondary school.

Marks, lower secondary school

Overall achievement marks and examination marks aim to provide information about the pupils' competence upon completion of compulsory education in Norway (10th grade in the lower secondary school). The purpose of the statistics is to provide an overview of the average level and distribution of marks in various subjects, and to assess variations in marks across groups of pupils categorised by characteristics such as gender, parental level of education, immigration category and school county.

Statistics on marks from lower secondary school are used for quality improvement and development purposes locally (schools, municipalities) as well as at the national level (Ministry and Directorate).

National tests

The purpose of national tests is to assess the pupils' skills in reading and math and in parts of the subject English. The tests are carried out in the autumn on the 5th, 8th and 9th grade.

National tests in the 5th and 8th grade have been conducted annually since 2007. Since autumn 2010, national tests have been carried out in reading and math in 9th grade.

Starting in 2010, both the tests in mathematics and reading English are conducted electronically.

Important users of the education statistics are public administration, special interest organisations, the media, researchers, business and industry. Key users are the Ministry of Education and Research and the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

Schools, municipalities and the national authorities use lower secondary school grades and results from national tests to improve the quality of education. The grades from primary and lower secondary school are also used as a basis for admission to upper secondary education.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on at 8 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

The statistics can be viewed in connection with education statistics covering pupils in primary and lower secondary schools.

There are some variations between the results in these statistics and the one published by UDIR because the selection criteria are different.

Act of 21 June 2019 No. 32 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway § 10.

Not relevant.

Marks, lower secondary school

The statistics cover overall achievement marks and examination marks in all main subjects and lower secondary school points (combined measurement for all marks) awarded upon completion of lower secondary school in Norway. External candidates and pupils in Steiner schools, Norwegian schools abroad and special schools are not included in the statistics. A pupil who has a school point score set to zero is not included in the statistics.

National tests

National tests are conducted in 5th and 8th grade in primary and lower secondary schools. The tests are obligatory for all pupils at these grades. Each school can give exemptions according to specified conditions.

The statistics include pupils in 5th and 8th grade who have completed national tests in English, reading and mathematics. Pupils who are exempted or who have not participated in the tests are not included.

Statistics about exemption and non-participation in the national tests are available from the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (in Norwegian only).

Marks from lower secondary schools are reported from the schools to the counties' own administrative data system for upper secondary education, VIGO (marks from lower secondary schools are used in upper secondary enrolment procedures). The results from the national tests are collected through the test administration system (PAS), which is owned by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

Collection of data

Data for marks, lower secondary school is collected from administrative registers from the counties' main enrolment system, VIGO. Data from National Tests are collected from the test administration system (PAS).


The data are subject to various controls such as deletion of duplicates, comparisons with former data sets and a control of correct and valid values for each variable. All Personal ID-numbers are checked for errors.


We calculate average grades in the different subjects by adding together the value of all grades in a subject and dividing by the number of students who have a grade in that subject.

We calculate the proportion of pupils per grade by dividing the number of pupils with a given grade in the subject by the number of pupils in total who have received a grade in the subject.

Primary school points are calculated by summing up the value of all grades, and then dividing by the number of grades. This average, with two decimal places, is multiplied by 10.

The statistics for each national test (the three subjects) are based on calculating simple distributions of pupils across the various mastering levels.

Not relevant.

The general rule is not to publish data if less than 3 pupils are found within a cell or unit in a table. This is to prevent identification of individuals within the statistics and follows The Act of 21 June 2019 No. 32 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway § 7.

The following criteria are applied in the statistics on marks, lower secondary school:

  • Distributions are not published for a group of pupils if there are less than five pupils with a single mark and the total number of pupils in the group is less than 30.
  • Distributions are not published for a group of pupils if all these pupils have obtained the same mark.
  • Average marks based on fewer than ten observations are not published.

Marks, lower secondary school

Due to the Knowledge Promotion reform introduced in 10th grade in the academic year 2007-2008, there is not a direct correspondence with subjects prior to the reform, but most subjects are very similar. One should therefore be cautious when comparing marks prior to and after the introduction of the Knowledge Promotion reform.

The calculation of lower secondary school points has changed over time as a result of the Knowledge Promotion reform, and comparisons should therefore not be made between school points prior to and after the academic year 2007-2008.

At county or national level there are limited variations in average marks and distributions from one year to the next, whereas longitudinal shifts for small sub-groups of the pupils will be closely linked to random variations in the mass of pupils from one year to the next.

When comparing average results across counties, it is important to consider geographical variations in the composition of the population. When comparing results between small groups of pupils one should also consider the impact a few single pupils may have on the group averages/distributions.

When comparing marks with results from national tests in 8th grade one should keep in mind that the competencies covered by the national tests do not directly overlap those in the lower secondary curriculum for a given subject.

Due to the government's decision to cancel exams in lower secondary school, lower secondary school points in 2020 are only based on overall achievement marks and are therefore not comparable with lower secondary school points from other school years.

National tests

Until 2013 the score intervals for each mastering level were set every year. From 2014 and onwards, the intervals for each level are definite for the tests in English and Mathematics. This means that from 2014 and onwards, it is possible to compare the results over time. This is also added to the Reading test from 2016, making it possible to compare results in reading over time from 2017 onwards.

In 2007 the percentage distribution of the mastering levels was set according to certain criteria and statistical analyses. Each year until 2013 the mastering levels were set with the aim to achieve approximately the same average and distribution nationally as the previous years. The intention was to give best possible data for comparison at the local level.

When analysing the national tests from 2007-2013, changes over time for a given group of pupils should primarily be interpreted not as absolute improvement/decline, but as relative changes compared to other groups (e.g. other counties) or compared to the distribution at the national level. Even though the distribution at the national level is maintained at an almost fixed level from 2007-2013, there are some variations that one should consider when comparing results over time.

Since 2010, the results in 8th grade can be compared with the same pupils' results in 5th grade three years earlier. For some pupils (that didn't take part in the 5th grade test or came to the country after 5th grade) such a comparison is not possible. One should also note that the mastering level scale in 5th grade contains three levels, whereas there are five levels in 8th grade. These levels are thus not directly comparable.

National tests in English in 5th grade were cancelled in 2011, therefore no results are presented for this test.

When the data is compiled from administrative registers, typical errors such as measurement, non-response and sampling errors do not occur in the same way as when collecting information compiled by forms. The central source of uncertainty and errors in such withdrawals is whether data is correctly registered or if the extraction is correctly specified. If there is misinterpretation or a lack of understanding of the definitions in the database, bias due to definitions will affect the data.

Even though the statistics are not based on samples, one should be careful when comparing results based on small groups.

Not relevant.