up to scratch 6

up to scratch: meaning and explanation

If something is up to scratch then it is at the required or acceptable standard.

This expression is usually used negatively, to say that something is not good enough, or does not meet the required standard. e.g. He tries hard, but I’m afraid his results just aren’t up to scratch.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: England (RP)

I’m that your isn’t .
I’m sorry say that your work really isn’t to .

…I’m sorry to say…

The phrase I’m sorry to say… is a useful way of introducing bad news. e.g. I’m sorry to say that your loan application has been turned down.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Can you remember an example of a time when you had to deal with something that just wasn’t up to scratch? What did you do?
  • Has there ever been a time when your work or performance wasn’t up to scratch?

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Sveta TsalkovskaAlineSChrisJefersonTteodoro@gmail.com Recent comment authors
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Can you remember an example of a time when you had to deal with something that just wasn’t up to scratch? What did you do?

When I presented my FCE exam before my local University and failed the writing.
I had to review the whole course on structure, conjunctions and titles.


I bought an English book because I believed that it was advanced, but It was very basic, the book wans’t up to scratch compared to others advanced English books. I gave it to my brother.
Hi Chris, Can you please give me an advice to remember the vocabulary in the future?
Thank you


I was in a group and we should answer some questions for an activity and send them to our professor. I had difficulties and the answers were up to scratch. I wish I could had formulated better answers, but my partners were like “oh, send it anyway, it’s great”, but it was not. At the end, we sent the poorly written activity so we could go home soon.

Last Saturday, I had a presentation for my English class, but I hadn’t had time enough to study. My teacher liked it, but I think it was up to scratch.

Sveta Tsalkovska
Sveta Tsalkovska

Thanks for these great phrases as usually!
As for my example I remember one of the cases when I failed the English test during the interview process to get a job. I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t my place, so I didn’t feel too upset the test wasn’t up to scratch. Later I’ve got another interview and became a part of a great team.

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