What Is a Tier Ranking System?

A tier ranking system is a distinct type of system used to grade individuals' or organizations' status or performance by placing them into categories. These categories, which can be Tier 1, Tier 2 and so forth or have distinct names, include all individuals or organizations that fulfill their induction criteria. The result is an easy-to-record and understand, but also too general, classification method.

  1. How It Works

    • The tier system is not a grading system itself; instead, it uses results from other evaluation systems, such as the A to F system of schools or the college diploma B.A., M.A. or Ph.D. classification and links them to certain tiers. For example, students whose grades range from A+ to B+ are on Tier 1, from B to C on Tier 2, from C- to D on Tier 3 and so on.


    • The main advantage of the tier ranking system is that it is relatively easy to record the data (who is included in each category) and present them, which makes the system simple even for people who know nothing about a grading system to understand whether someone is ranked high or not. For example, if someone sees a university on the top tier, he can tell it offers higher-quality education compared to the Tier 4 institution.


    • The tier system groups data, but it does not present in detail a person's or organization's performance or credentials. Therefore, there is no way to distinguish between entries of the same tier unless specific information is provided. For example, when Tier 1 is Ph.D. holders and Tier 2 is M.A. degree holders, determining which of the Tier 2 entries has a higher grade point average is impossible.

    Importance of the Tier System

    • The importance of the tier ranking system lies in its ability to group similar data. Imagine a set of 100 students' grades on a history test. Without the ranking system, you would have to list the 100 names in descending order based on each student's grade. With the tier system, all you need is to place each student in a certain category. In the UK, the government has created a tier system for visa issuance. Tier 1 is for highly-skilled professionals, Tier 2 is for sponsored skilled workers, Tier 3 applies to low-skilled workers and so on. With this scheme, the Border Agency ranks each applicant and handles her case accordingly.

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