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Asking Professor for F to Passing Grade

  1. Dec 7, 2013 #1
    Does any one have any advice for talking to your professor change your grade from an F to a passing grade? First, I don't feel entitled that the professor should change my grade, but it would be nice to try.

    It was my second time taking this electric engineering course and my only failed course. I took it the first time in 2nd year, and now I'm in my 4th and final year. It is a core course of my program, but I am in software not electrical. I was doing very well before the final. I had ~90% and the class average was ~60%. However, you need to pass the final to pass the course. The course mark is 50% for final and 50% for the other exams. I have a good overall GPA of 3.8, so I am a hard worker. Although, I was not in 2nd year. I don't know my exam mark because my final mark will not include the final since I failed. I get 90% * 50% = 45%. But I know it is bad.

    I believe I know my material well and could perform well on the final if taken again. I just did not perform well when I needed to. The final was a lot harder than the midterms and what I expected. Unfortunately, I paniced. I kept thinking what would happen if I failed again and that this was going to be like 2nd year again. Then I got anxious and couldn't think properly. It's embarrassing because I have had many hard exams before and responded fine. I know I will have to improve at handling pressure better.

    So those are my excuses. I'd word it differently to my professor. But do you think I have any case for a better mark? Any advice as well?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2013 #2
    Is there a chance of getting a re-examination? Check your university's policies, I know that my school will generally let you retake a final exam if you do well but fail because of the final.
  4. Dec 8, 2013 #3
    Grow up, caljuice.
    You're behaving like a child.
    Earn the damn grade or change careers.
  5. Dec 8, 2013 #4
    Thanks, haven't heard that before but I will check it out.

    I know it's being childish, but I have nothing to lose, except for integrity, from trying.
  6. Dec 8, 2013 #5


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    You're being childish. He said it's an electrical engineering course. He's software. The class doesn't pertain much to his actual career. Test anxiety happens to just about everybody.
  7. Dec 8, 2013 #6


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    It wasn't clear from the original post - do you actually know that you have failed the course? Or are you worried about the fact that you think you did bad?

    If it's the latter, I wouldn't do anything. Just wait for your actual mark and proceed from there.

    If it's the former, then you can ask to see your exam. You can challenge the actual marking if there is anything you think was unfair. Occasionally markers will not add correctly. Sometimes you can make an argument for partial marks.

    But if you've failed... I'm afraid that's it. I've had to fail students before and it's not something that I've ever done lightly.

    This attitude that "you have nothing to lose" or that "it's not relevant to your degree" comes across as disrespectful to the program and the degree that you're trying to earn. If it didn't matter, then why would you do it in the first place?
  8. Dec 8, 2013 #7
    Everyone struggles from test anxiety, but stress and anxiety are things you will have to deal with your entire life. Making excuses will not help you nor anyone else. How will you respond to anxiety and stress in the real world if your software does not perform to the standards expected? Asking the professor to make a special exception for you would be unfair to all the other students who did fine.

    Honestly you need to own up to your mistakes. If the final was much harder than the midterms and you panicked because you had trouble with the questions, than that's a clear sign that you did not study well enough. Claiming that the course is in electrical and not software (which implies that you don't consider it important) is frankly immature, and as choppy said, disrespectful. You are welcome to ask the professor, but keep in mind that you will almost certainly still fail the course, and lose the respect of the instructor in the process.
  9. Dec 8, 2013 #8
    Rather than ask if the prof can change the grade, I would ask if there's any way you can re-write the final or do something else (I don't know, maybe like an extra research project or something.) to prove that you deserve a better grade. Maybe you did learn enough to deserve a passing grade, but you obviously haven't proved that at this point, so I don't think it would be fair for the prof to change your grade just because you asked. The onus is on you to do some extra work and prove that you deserve it. And of course the prof is still allowed to say "no" even if you do that.

    This might be worth doing if you were really close to passing, but I would focus on black-and-white things where the marking was definitely done incorrectly. I would personally avoid arguing for part marks (as in "I know I did this wrong, but I think you took off an unfair number of marks for it"). I've seen it work a lot of times, but I don't think it's really fair to the other students, and I think you're a lot more likely to annoy the prof with that kind of request.

    Also, maybe this is obvious, but don't ask about the marking of your final exam if that alone isn't going to be enough to change your grade...
  10. Dec 8, 2013 #9


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    The only problem there is, once word gets around that you don't have any integrity, even A+ grades in everything won't count for much in real life.
  11. Dec 8, 2013 #10
    Ya that is true, but that is quite the exaggerated outcome. Not that I approve of cheating, but it happens all the time in school and many cheaters end up fine later in life. One action like this does not define who someone is or how they treat people.

    Anyway, thanks for all your responses and honesty. I can see how I sounded disrespectful. I'll take everything into consideration when I write my prof the email. I will probably just mention my previous marks, and if there are any options like thegreenlaser said. If he says no, I will just have to accept it. Not sure what I will do next. I am not allowed to take the course again without special permission. I might switch to computer science.
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