An 'Exceeds Expectations'-graded
Hermione Granger: " So top grade's O for ‘Outstanding,’ and then there's A —"
George Weasley: " No, E. E for ‘Exceeds Expectations.’ And I've always thought Fred and I should've got E in everything, because we exceeded expectations just by turning up for the exams."
— Discussing the O.W.L. marks
Exceeds Expectations is one of the three passing grades, and one of six grades overall, in the Ordinary Wizarding Levels, Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests, and Wizards' Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Tests. It is the second highest mark, immediately below 'Outstanding' and immediately above ' Acceptable'.
Advancing to N.E.W.T.-level
Most professors at
Hogwarts set their N.E.W.T. classes entrance standards at 'Exceeds Expectations', meaning that the students must acquire such a grade in their O.W.L. in order to continue. Snape however, required an 'Outstanding' from his Potions students.
Known recipients of an E
He ran his finger down his grades... he had passed well in Transfiguration and Herbology, he had even exceeded expectations at Potions!" —Harry Potter reviewing his O.W.L. results
Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.
And you qualify for Defence Against the Dark Arts with 'Exceeds Expectations'... I see that you have an 'Exceeds Expectations' in charms, however — why not try for a N.E.W.T. in Charms?" —Minerva McGonagall
Behind the scenes
1995, Fred and George Weasley joked that they should have earned "E's" in all of their O.W.L.s, since they exceeded expectations just by showing up for the exams.