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Arguing for the higher grade when you are borderline

  1. Dec 20, 2014 #1
    Hi all,

    I was disappointed to see that I got a "C" grade in Calculus II. After emailing the professor for my final exam grade, I noticed that when everything was totaled up, I had a 79.2%. While I wish I had just earned the grade outright, I still would like to try to argue for the higher one.

    The one thing I "may" have on my side is that, while I almost never argue about tests/grading, there was one test where I thought I could have earned more on a few questions. After showing this to him at that time, he stated that grading is tough, and that I should bring it to him at the end of the year if I have a borderline grade. He has been known to be tough on borderline cases, so even with that, it may be a long shot. Wondering what you guys think?
     
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  3. Dec 20, 2014 #2

    SteamKing

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    It's not clear what scale you are basing the letter grades on. In my experience, a score of 79.2% corresponds to a grade of C.
     
  4. Dec 20, 2014 #3
    Yes, it most certainly is, although the only thing keeping me somewhat close, is the fact that he rounds up from 79.5 (I'm 2 pts away from that). It's definitely uncomfortable talking about this, because it was my responsibility to earn my grade outright, but I guess when you're in this position, you have to at least try...and again, when I thought I earned more points on a test earlier in the semester, he told me to come see him if I ended up with a borderline grade.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  5. Dec 20, 2014 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    What exactly is the basis for a higher grade? Are you arguing that the threshold should have been 79.2 and not 79.5? Are you arguing that the test was misgraded?
     
  6. Dec 20, 2014 #5

    Choppy

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    If he told you to go in and see him, then go in and see him.

    Most professors don't put up with whining about grades. They won't add marks for no reason just because you're close to a threshold. But in most cases they will re-evaluate if there has been an error or inconsistency in the marking.
     
  7. Dec 20, 2014 #6

    462chevelle

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    It only costs you your dignity.
     
  8. Dec 21, 2014 #7

    QuantumCurt

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    It could be worth going in and having him look at the exam in question. But it sounds like there's not much hope for it. You get what you earn. Even if he gave you back 5-6 extra points in partial credit on the one exam, it isn't likely to make a significant different in your overall grade. Not enough to give you the extra .3% in your grade that's needed to round up to a B.

    I can understand the frustration. The only B I've gotten so far in college was in General Chemistry II. I finished it with an 89.4%, and he rounds an 89.5% up to a 90%. It was frustrating, but it was what I earned. Several friends told me that I should go to his office hours and try to make a case for bumping it up to an 89.5% so it would round up to an A, but I never did. I chalked it up to a learning experience. There was one exam that I didn't do so well on because I was not adequately prepared for it (freakin acid-base titrations... -_-), and that's what made the difference. Had I been better prepared for it, I would have gotten the A. I learned something from it though. I got a B, and amazingly, the world did not come to an end. I did honors projects both semesters in Gen Chem with this professor, and he has recently written me a couple letters of recommendation for summer internships. Had I gone in and tried to argue for the higher grade, he might not have been so willing to write them.
     
  9. Dec 22, 2014 #8
    I agree with Choppy on this one; if your professor specifically said that you should speak to him at the end of the semester about the grade, then you should do so. If you were simply going to him because you WANT a B, that may be something to feel uncomfortable about; however, if you believe that you earned a B, then there is nothing wrong with speaking to the professor about it, especially if he said to do so if you have a borderline grade.

    I used to teach high school (which I recognize is very different from university, but marks for twelfth grade students are obviously very important), and I always told my students that they could speak to me about a grade if they went home, went through their work and wrote down exactly where they felt I had been too harsh and why. They could then make an appointment to speak to me about it, and I would consider their points. A few students took me up on the offer each semester, and those who did sometimes had legitimate gripes. Even if they didn't, I had no problem explaining to them why they earned what they did. Too many students complain about marks just because they want higher marks, but a teacher should always be able to support the grades that they give. As long as you approach your professor respectfully, I don't see why anyone should see it as an issue.

    Out of curiosity, what system has a 79.2% as a C letter grade? Is that typical in the United States? I am in Canada, and a mark of 79.2% is just shy of an A- in the universities that I have attended, with the 89.5 that QuantumCurt mentioned being just shy of an A+. Class averages tend to range between 68% to 72% here (particularly in first- and second-year courses) which would be a C+ to a B-.
     
  10. Dec 22, 2014 #9
    Porthos, the "standard" system for grades in the US puts 90-100 as an A, 80-90 as a B, 70-80 as a C, 60-70 as a D, and 59 and below as an F at the university level. I've had courses (often by foreign professors) whose grades were different than what is common in the US, though. In my old high school, the grading was actually 94+ is an A, 87-94 is a B, 79-86 is a C, 70-78 is a D, and below 70 is an F (or something like that). I've seen this happen in college courses as well.

    At any rate, as long as there's a valid reason that a higher grade is deserved, then it's always worth arguing it. If there's no valid reason, then it's probably better to accept the grade.
     
  11. Dec 22, 2014 #10
    Thanks for the explanation, axmls. I appreciate it.
     
  12. Jan 7, 2015 #11
    Just thought I'd update/bump this thread (perhaps it will be valuable to some other students in the future). I did not hear back from him for about 2-3 weeks, as he was on vacation (which I would learn of later) and wasn't bothering with anything work related (which I can definitely understand, but was stressed out about nonetheless). Got a reply back from him very recently, and set up a meeting, and saw him today. I had a long talk with him, and showed him the two problems and why I think I may have earned more (let's remember that I only needed/need two points). I also told him that I respect his decision, whatever it may be.

    He told me that he'd think about it, and that he wasn't making any guarantees...and that's where I am now. Waiting. I will definitely let you guys know the outcome, but at least I am at peace - Even if he does not raise my grade, I know I did absolutely everything I could, and I'm content with that.
     
  13. Jan 7, 2015 #12
    I hope you get it. I got an 89.6 once and It counted as a B. A downside to math teachers. They take their closed sets seriously :D
     
  14. Jan 7, 2015 #13

    symbolipoint

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    Some teachers or in some situations some schools, use a strict 90-80-70-60 percentage score for minimums A-B-C-D letter grades.

    Sometimes a grade means one thing, and sometimes it means another. Would you feel good to take a B in your Calculus II and then have a D (or F) or be forced to withdraw from Calculus III ?
     
  15. Jan 7, 2015 #14
    Of course not, but luckily the consensus is that Calc III is easier than Calc II. I don't want to get into specifics, but I got B's on almost all my tests in Calc II, including the final (they were low B's). It was just one test that I did really poorly on, which I obviously wish I did better on, but that's just the way it goes sometimes.
     
  16. Jan 7, 2015 #15

    symbolipoint

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    I see and can understand. Your C may mean something very favorable for you but maybe not for others; or maybe for them also. You learned well while in the course and the grade of C might represent real LEARNING. If your usual scores were low B's according to the grading scale used, you did well. On the next hand, be very careful about fully trusting "consensus". You do not know yet how YOU will do in studying Calculus III. Did you ever vote in an election but some of the items on which you voted did NOT pass, and you really really WANTED them to pass? Public consensus through voting made a different decision than you wanted.
     
  17. Jan 7, 2015 #16

    Bystander

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    First reaction to title of thread was "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Things you've got going for you: great attitude; patience with the instructor; and, a simple statement of your case that acknowledged what you learned at what stages of the course. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.
     
  18. Jan 9, 2015 #17
    It depends. Was this a class where all of your grade came down to 3 or 4 exams and a handful of assignments, or was it homework every day and quizzes every week? Do you have a good relationship with the professor, were you in class on time, every day? If it's the latter for the first question and anything but a complete yes for the second, I wouldn't push it.

    That said, I don't really think that your grade in calculus II is going to make or break you for anything.
     
  19. Jan 11, 2015 #18
    I missed the entire last page of my first biology exam last semester and ended the class with an 89.9X% (she didn't bump it up); that last page was so important (and so easy) that I would have ended with a ~93-94%. The rest of the class was interesting of course, but almost completely unenjoyable, for me at least; I'd get this slight nauseous feeling because my grades weren't exemplary of my performance. That and I took a music class in which I ended with a C+. I got ~98% on every exam, had to have been the only kid that didn't miss a single class, etc, etc, but apparently I missed 2-3 online quizzes (don't even remember if I did or didn't, I thought I did them all, I don't know) and he didn't like one of the two projects I did.. which he gave me a 60% on; I filled all of the criteria, he just didn't like it. I emailed him, no reply. I know it's all my fault, it's just disappointing; I'd have ended with a C+ even if I didn't attend his classes and turned in a report riddled with errors on a trite, banal song; what's the point of not not trying.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  20. Jan 12, 2015 #19
    He agreed to change it to a 'B'. I'm really relieved and happy about this.
     
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