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Grade Situation

  1. Apr 29, 2012 #1
    I'll make this short and simple. I messed up. I messed up pretty bad, but I'm not totally screwed. But I'd like PF's take on what I should do.

    I'm in a class (Engineering Dynamics), and I bombed a test. And I don't mean "onoz I got a seventy what will I doooo". I mean, there's no way I got more than a 50 - in fact, it's doubtful I came out with more than a 30. Why? Because I couldn't write down anything on half the test. I walked into the exam and I blanked. I knew nothing. I hadn't prepared very well at all because I overloaded myself this semester and did not work as hard as I should have. There were no real extenuating circumstances, at least none that would account for more than a small portion of my problem - I just plain messed up and took too heavy of a courseload, and I couldn't handle it.

    But the funny thing is, I'd been doing well all semester in that class. I never made below a 90 on either of the other two exams. I went to the classes. I studied. But then this exam came along and I was buried under two other exams that I had to study for, and this semester was already crazy anyway with assignments in two other classes due every week that would each take days out of my life. I feel like I could master the material in this course if I had more time, and indeed I'm dropping one of my classes because if I tried to make it through all of the classes I'm taking now, it would destroy my GPA more than it has been already.

    My question is, should I go to the professor and ask for some leniency on this one exam based on the fact that I aced the other exams? Perhaps ask that it be weighed less, or that the final be weighed more? I'm positive I can annihilate the final since I'll have much more time to prepare without assignments from other classes bogging me down. I'd really like to come out with a B in the class, but as it stands, I'd have to do pretty well on the final just to get a C. I'd really like the extra assurance + the hope of getting a B. Do you think it's worth it? What would you say if you were a professor and had to listen to this student describe their screw-ups?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2012 #2


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    Homework Helper

    It is ok if you drop the class you know. Consider it an option if you talk with the professor, and he disagrees.
  4. Apr 29, 2012 #3
    Oh yes, I forgot to mention, dropping the class is not an option for multiple reasons.

    1) It's too late. My school only lets you drop a class before the second exam rolls around. That is, except once: they let you use a "one-time-exception" option to drop a class after the second exam, and I'm using that option on the class I mentioned.

    2) I wouldn't anyway. It would drop me below full-time enrollment and I'd have to start paying back student loans, plus I would lose my scholarship. I'd rather get the C than let that happen.
  5. Apr 29, 2012 #4


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    You only have one option then. Study very well for the final, and as a bonus ask for leniency from the Professor, but he of course can agree to give you none.
  6. Apr 29, 2012 #5
    Well, you don't know how you did on the exam, right? How did the rest of the students do? I know at my school, if too many people do well on the first exam, the second one is harder, if too many people do well on the second exam, the third one is harder. Its not really about a desire to make kids flunk; its more of a desire to challenge us poor souls.

    On the other hand, if you do well on the final and did well on the other two exams, chances are good that the prof will notice this. Sure, he has published his alleged grading scheme in the syllabus, but he is allowed to give students a higher grade than what is syllabus would allow. Also, I have had several profs who would make your course grade whatever you got on the final (if it worked out better for you that way, of course.)

    Instead of going to the prof and asking for mercy, I'd go and do something like this: "Hey, prof. So-And-So, I don't know what happened, but I really screwed up on the last test. I'd done really well on the other ones, so this really upset me. So, when I got home I worked out some of the problems that were on the exam that I struggled with, and I just wanted to ask you if I did them right."

    This does a few things. 1: You learn the stuff. 2: The professor sees that you took the time to learn the stuff, even though you bombed the exam. 3: He knows who you are, and is aware of the fact that this exam might be an anomaly.

    As a result, you have actually asked the professor to take mercy on you, but on a slightly less-explicit way. I think he is going to be more likely to have mercy on you this way than if you just go and beg. Also, if you do just ask him to forget about the exam, he's probably not going to say "yeah sure." He will probably give some really non-committal answer.

    I've had this exact thing happen, and I did exactly what I described above, and everything worked out very well. Of course, I'm not guaranteeing anything.
  7. Apr 29, 2012 #6
    Very good advice!!
  8. Apr 29, 2012 #7


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    Are you sure their won't be a curve on the exam? Maybe most people also bombed it.
  9. Apr 30, 2012 #8
    If you got 90%+ on the other two exams then you shouldn't be worried at all. You had a dud, get an A on the final and you'll be fine. Unless, of course you're not getting A's on the homeworks. I really don't see what the big deal is, certainly not a big enough deal to put the professor in an awkward situation of granting you some slack because you had a stressful week.

    How much are the exams worth? How much is the final worth? It looks like you already calculated what you need to do. Now do it.
  10. Apr 30, 2012 #9
    I don't know, but like I said, I couldn't write down anything on half the questions. Nothing, nada, so no partial credit. His exam averages were 71 and 85 for the other two exams, so it's hard to imagine the average being so much lower.

    Well, there's two problems with this. First, when we get our exams back, he gives solutions to the problems as well. Second, I don't remember what the questions said. And third, I still haven't had time to learn the material. I'd be just as sunk right now.

    Well, there are no graded homeworks, but there are weekly quizzes whose cumulative averages replace a dud grade, but don't have any value in and of themselves. I stopped doing the quizzes ages ago because I didn't foresee this happening. I know this was a stupid move, but since I didn't have time to study for the quizzes, the average would've been very low regardless, and indeed it was taking time away from my other courses. I probably should have mentioned the quizzes in my original post, because I just know the professor is going to say "should have done the quizzes".

    The exams are worth 15, 20, and 25 - I went Hiroshima on the 25. The final is worth 35. I don't really know if he grades on a curve, because if so, I'm probably sunk. If he grades based on percentages, I should be able to pass even if I don't do great on the final. But it's not passing that I'm worried about -_- I want a good grade. I don't want this one screwup to ruin my grade in that class so thoroughly. I was on track for an A, now it's possible I might fail...
  11. May 22, 2012 #10
    He said no to leniency, but I wound up with a B- anyway. Thanks y'all.
  12. May 22, 2012 #11


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    That is a good outcome! :)
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