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I have a question regarding how to write your school grades. If you want to write someone saying that you graduated high school in the top 10%, should you write it like this?

"Graduated high school in the top 10% in class."

And if you want to use your actual place instead of using percentiles, should you write it like this?

"Graduated high school tenth in class."

Thank you for your help in advance!

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    I'd avoid the percentage sentence because it means little or nothing if your class was small. Most employers probably want to know your grade point average (GPA) rather than your class rank. The next issue it what you're writing this for. If it's a résumé, you can say in the Education section, something like: "Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood, NJ. June 20012. Tenth in class of 247." If it's in your cover letter, perhaps "I graduated with a GPA of 3.75, and 10th in my high school class of 247." – user264 May 20 '13 at 3:56
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    @BillFranke - do note that in some cases, percentage matters; for example, in Texas, we had (have?) a rule that the top 10% of public high school graduates get automatic admission to the University of Texas. That number was (if I recall correctly) independent of graduating class size. – Adam V May 20 '13 at 17:04
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    @BillFranke If my graduating class had 2 students and I was number 2 with a GPA of 3.9, I'd point on my resume "GPA: 3.9", not "bottom 50% of my class". In salesmanship -- and a resume is a form of salesmanship -- you present the information in the way that is most favorable to yourself. – Jay May 21 '13 at 21:14
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    Reminds me of the story of the person who was in a competition with a hated rival, and afterward boasted that he came in second while his rival was next to last. He didn't mention that they were the only two in the competition. – Jay May 21 '13 at 21:16
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    @BillFranke: the way the 10% rule works in California at least (possibly also in other states that have the top 10% auto-admission rule) is that they take the top 10% of graduates in the state. Your class size doesn't matter, because you're being compared to every other graduating senior in the state. – Martha May 21 '13 at 21:25
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A more common way to write your first sentence would probably be:

I graduated high school in the top 10% of my class.

This means that your rank was in the highest 10%, and 90% of the class was below you.

Your second sentence doesn't mean the same thing:

I graduated high school tenth in my class.

This means that you were ranked #10 in your class (not the top 10%). It means that only and exactly 9 students were ranked higher than you, and everyone else was ranked lower than you.

  • Well, if your graduating class had at least 100 students, then both statements could be true. :) – Martha May 20 '13 at 23:13
  • The question says "if you wanted to write your actual place instead of using percentiles", so the second sentence is perfectly correct! – FakeDIY May 21 '13 at 10:42
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I would say

I was among the top 10% (of the students) when I graduated high school.

and for your other question

I got 10th rank or was ranked 10th (among the students) in my high school.

  • "Of/among the students" is superfluous. You wouldn't ever say "of/among the teachers", "of/among the cafeteria workers", or "of/among the stray dogs lolling around the playground". Only students graduate. – user264 May 20 '13 at 3:59
  • @BillFranke So are you saying that saying 'I secured the 10th rank among the 1000 students that participated in the nationwide contest' is incorrect? The reason I am asking is that I have seen it being used by people often but they all are non natives. – Dude May 20 '13 at 12:56
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    @JoeD: Your question has two parts. The first has to do with I secured the 10th rank. That doesn't sound natural to me. It's not idiomatic American English. Maybe I took 10th place or I was number 10. Adding the bit about of the 1000 students who participated in the contest is an important piece of information in this sentence if the listener doesn't know it's about a contest. But saying I graduated 10th in my high school class doesn't require you to tell the listener that the other graduates were also students: that's built into the "high school class" phrase. – user264 May 20 '13 at 14:07
  • I had classmates who probably would not have made the top 10% of stray dogs lolling around the playground. :-) – Jay May 22 '13 at 17:38

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