Testing Methodology

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  • Thread starter confusedinMA
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  • #1
I go to a sort of the middle of the road university and test averages in my classes can be quite low(50s or so) but I almost always do significantly better than average and have one of the highest scores in my classes. I have a hard time telling if this means my peers don't work very hard/aren't very smart or I am just doing well.

Also as higher level classes continue on how does grading typically work? For example if there is a test and the average is a 50 but I get the highest grade in the class with something like an 87, does that translate to me getting a B+ on the test or will it typically mean that my work represents an "A" for that test and the people who got 50s or so get "Cs".

I guess I sort of mean a curve but not even necessarily applied until calculation of the final grade.

The reason I ask is because I see people with really high GPA's on this and other forums. Does this mean you got like 90+ on all those test you have taken in high level classes or that you were amongst the highest handful on performers in the class regardless of raw score? I find it easy to stay near the top of my class but can to easily make mistakes that knock me down into the 80s range even if my understanding is stellar. However, even when I think I've done really really horrible on a test(I almost dropped a class after taking a test and feeling awful about it) I end up getting one of the top scores-even though it was only a 70.

I'm starting to move into junior level classes and it seems like it will get much harder to maintain 90+ on test like I did in Intro Physics and the Math sequence up to Differential Equations.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
fss
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It depends (as usual). Some professors are nice and will scale grades to a B or higher (typically in very high-level classes), others are not as forgiving. I had professors who started the class by saying "as long as you make an effort, you will get an A" and others who gave very difficult exams with no curve.
 
  • #3
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Most classes that have low averages will 'curve up'
Highest performers (relative to the class) usually end up with A's even if they did not score in the 90ies
 
  • #4
6,817
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Also as higher level classes continue on how does grading typically work? For example if there is a test and the average is a 50 but I get the highest grade in the class with something like an 87, does that translate to me getting a B+ on the test or will it typically mean that my work represents an "A" for that test and the people who got 50s or so get "Cs".

That's the way things usually work. The big question is where the professor sets the median grade to be. I've found that in higher level classes, the grade center usually ends up being B and A/B. The reason for this is that by the time you get into upper level classes, the department has already done the weeding out, and they set up the scores so that people don't look too bad when people apply for grad schools.

I find it easy to stay near the top of my class but can to easily make mistakes that knock me down into the 80s range even if my understanding is stellar. However, even when I think I've done really really horrible on a test(I almost dropped a class after taking a test and feeling awful about it) I end up getting one of the top scores-even though it was only a 70.

Tests are usually designed so that no one is expected to get a 100. One reason that tests are designed in this way is that frankly professors find it difficult to know how the class as a whole will do on a test. If the prof makes the test too easy then you'll find too many people getting 100's, and this will make it impossible to grade. If the test is too hard, then everyone will get a lower score, but you'll still be able to rank students. So the tendency is to make the test quite hard.

I'm starting to move into junior level classes and it seems like it will get much harder to maintain 90+ on test like I did in Intro Physics and the Math sequence up to Differential Equations.

It may be impossible,
 
  • #5
Pengwuino
Gold Member
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A couple of my professors in the past have given out tests in upper division courses where they feel you're on the right track if you get a 50-60%. Their reasoning was simple; you can make a test arbitrarily hard and scores by themselves become meaningless. All that really matters is how students rank against each other and it's unlikely an entire class is doing the work of students who deserve Fs. In those classes, a couple get As, the rest Bs and some Cs. You pretty much had to not care to get a D or F.
 

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