In the world of the Harry Potter novels, students at Hogwarts are required to take Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) examinations determining the proficency of the student in all courses being currently attended in their fifth year. These examinations determine which disiplines of wizardry the students are strongest in (and therefore should progress in) - most instructors close their N.E.W.T. Exam classes to students who do not perform to a certain level on the corresponding O.W.L.
O.W.L. grades are as follows, from high to low:
- O = Outstanding
- E = Exceeds Expectations
- A = Acceptable
(The same system applies to the N.E.W.T. Exam as well.)
The O.W.L. is divided (with the exception of History of Magic) into two parts - a written theoretical examination, and a practical examination where the student will be asked to demonstrate specific spells. O.W.L. Exams are grueling affairs - students are driven by them to frenzies of studying that would put Japanese high school students to shame and the black market of potentially dangerous study aids flourishes during this time. Needless to say, all the fifth years are glad when the O.W.L.s are finally over.
Until the owl with their grades comes, that is...