I need two symbols:

  • Passed the Lesson
  • Mastered the Lesson (earned maximum extra credit)


  • Universal
  • Clear that Mastered is "superior to Passed"

Maybe there's nothing better than what I've got.

What I've considered:

Top choice is Silver Star (passed) and Gold Star (Mastered)

enter image description here

  • 2
    maybe a green check for passed and a green check PLUS a golden star for mastered?
    – Kweamod
    Feb 25, 2014 at 13:53

6 Answers 6


Of course there is a silver and gold badge option, though for mastered, you could use a trophy.

(I'm going to put a Googled image for each suggestion for clarity sake)

enter image description here

Since it's to do with education you could use scroll icons with silver/gold ribbon. Or a scroll for pass and a graduation cap for mastered.

enter image description here

There's also the option of a sash which you have depicted nicely in your badges. I think I would suggest no sash for pass and full sash (i.e. both sides of badge) for mastered.

For young children a gold and silver star system would make sense;

enter image description here

(Star stickers are used in schools throughout Europe, the States and Australia, and of course silver and gold are internationally recognizable)

Hope I've helped the brainstorming/decision making!

  • 1
    I like the idea of a graduation cap for Passed and the medal for Mastered. Because the cap is the end of a process and you only get it once you've completed the mandatory, but the medal is kind of based on merit (so beyond the mandatory).
    – Yisela
    Feb 25, 2014 at 20:30
  • Nice logic, I was thinking in terms of getting a lesser qualification but incomplete and then master as complete though I suppose you don't have to master the process to complete it. I prefer your logic :)
    – Jenna
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:21
  • LOL I originally found the same "graduated" icon but I think it's too specific (it hopefull brings to mind" graduated" , but that's really not the meaning we're going for. I like the Trophy idea. Feb 27, 2014 at 19:30

How about a green tick for pass, and the same but with a mortar board for mastered?

  • I am a little sceptical to this; the mortar board is a symbol used to indicate "graduated", as in passed and finished school, and if i understand the OP correctly, the "passed" is also technically good as "graduated".
    – benteh
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:28
  • I'd agree if I was using the mortar board in isolation. By using a green tick for pass, you get the concept of a pass, while the mortar board together with the green tick indicates a state above this. From the context I doubt the OP will be using the tick-plus-mortar-board in the sort of context that indicates graduated.
    – Peter
    Feb 26, 2014 at 8:20

The concept of a silver and gold icon make sense, because people tend to understand that a silver medal (while good) is not as good as a gold medal.

Also (I am assuming that the educational application is for children), make sure that whatever you choose is 'universally' understood by children as well as adults.


I agree with allcaps. I think there is a certain ranking and "passed" should still be towards the top (as it is an achievement) as opposed to failing for example. Even if you are not using all grades, you can still imply them to emphasize the achievement.

So here is my take on it:

enter image description here

  • Angry Birds has also the three star approach. No stars is fail. For a teaching software three star grading is better than two or five stars. It's simpler.
    – allcaps
    Feb 26, 2014 at 14:31

Most times when I see questions about icons I think: What if you reversed it? Seeing a gold and silver star and not knowing the context. What does it mean? I wouldn't come up with 'passed' and 'mastered'. My thought would be 'favorite' (on/yellow) and 'not favorite' (off/white). But others may associate it differently. Some associations will be quite far from what you intended. Did you know a star is a religious symbol?

Icons/symbols can mean anything...

I think with stars you're on the right track. But I think stars are earned like in the army, restaurants, hotels. You get more stars if you're better.

Creatives are the best in associative thinking and overestimate the ability of our audience to do the same. The receiver will do minimal required to understand the message and the receivers perception is their truth... the only truth. This is also why it's hard to design icons and why there are many questions about it. It's also the reason why to use icons in context. An icon alone will be interpretable. If you want no mistakes at the receiving end you might have to apply text, label or legend. Also a single icon is harder to understand than multiple.

Lesson 1 *

Little or no context, this could mean anything: footnote; required; hard; etc.

Lesson 1     Your score: *--

With a label (proving context) and 'no stars' the meaning becomes clear.

          Your scores:
Lesson 1: ***
Lesson 2: **-
Lesson 3: *--
Lesson 4: --- try again

And even more clear if you have multiple occurrences. Great, good, average and fail.

Since this question is about educational software. I guess you want to use the same icon in different situations. To make it work, always provide enough context. This way the meaning of the icon is less in the shape of the icon itself. It can be stars, checkmarks, dots, coins, a progress bar, color range. Even something in a theme: Monkeys if your lessons are about wildlife.

Tips: If you have a 'passed' and 'mastered' status you might want to think about 'fail' and 'not defined'. Also I would use simpler words: 'bad', 'poor', 'average', 'good', 'great'.


Because it is based around a singular achievement, which once passed can cause two intrinsically linked outcomes, I think it would be better as two parts of one icon. They are two levels of one achievement and I think that's an important thing to remember.

Some suggestions that I can think of at the moment are:

A silver coin with the word 'pass' or just P for passed which then changes to include a gold star for mastered. (terrible examples due to lack of sleep):

Pass IconMastered Icon

The second suggestion I have is super-simple:

Pass Icon Half StarMastered Icon Full Star

They really need no explanation, and that is a good thing. Additionally, having the half star may annoy some of the OCD audience, causing them to seek symmetry. I speak of the Sheldon Cooper's of the world though, not a particularly large or important part of your audience.

I would like to expand this into deeper considerations but I'm currently busy. I will try to revisit again later.

I hope it helps in some way.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.