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What to do when you get undeserved grades

  1. Jun 4, 2012 #1
    Hello physicsforums,

    If you are given a low grade when you think you have done way better, what will you do?

    I myself have received a low grade (B) on an experimental physics course in college, but I think I actually deserve an A+.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2012 #2
    I know how you feel. I think I shoulda won this year's Nobel Peace Prize cause I haven't slapped anyone yet today. Sigh . . .
  4. Jun 4, 2012 #3
    We don't all see things the same way. IMO, the only answer is to sit down with the Prof and discuss where he/she felt you fell short. I had a Prof that would give a lower grade if I didn't work to what he felt was my potential, even when it was better than others. My takeaway lesson: No such thing as good enough unless it's as good as you can do. Good lesson for life, btw.
  5. Jun 4, 2012 #4
    Well, Jmason, that's too extreme.. lol.. Everyone would have won at least one too if you could get one by not slapping anyone..

    What I meant is, when you have dedicated your time for a course, put extra effort to it, you proofread/rechecked every reports/homework submitted, etc, and yet you are given a low grade, what will you do?

    I am not in freshman year (now going to final year), and I have obtained grade B before, but that is when I put in minimal efforts.

    First thing that come to my mind is to request for a review of the results. I have done so, but the department said that there would be no change to the grade (I am not sure what the reviewers did, but I think they only checked if the marks totalled correctly).
  6. Jun 4, 2012 #5
    That's a very wise lesson indeed. Anyway, I truly think that I have done my best. Actually there are many profs involved in teaching the course.
  7. Jun 4, 2012 #6
    Rules are rules. When I give grades, I just make up rules for who gets what grade and I stick to that. If you got 100% on everything and they didn't give you an A, you could first ask them about it and then complain to the department. But this should only be done when there is a real problem, such as getting A's on everything and then getting a B in the class. In that case, it could be that there has been an error, and if not, it's unfair, and you can try to look into it.
  8. Jun 4, 2012 #7


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    Posts like these confuse me at times. Don't you have a syllabus with a grading rubric? Didn't you receive your assignments and tests back with scores? I've never taken a course in college where my grade was a mystery at any point. Are you saying you received an average of a B on all your actual work but still feel you deserve an A solely because you think that's fair? If you received an A+ on every assignment and still received a B, you should demand a review.
  9. Jun 4, 2012 #8
    Oops. I am sorry for the confusion. So I did not get back the assignments or scores (so yes, in a sense they are mysterious), but I worked hard for them, and I "think" that I should get better grade than what I received. So I have demanded a review, but they said "the grade was unchanged after they rechecked if there were mistakes in totalling the marks".

    So I want to pursue this matter further, but am not sure how to, or if it is even wise to do so. Part of the reason I think this is unfair is because I took a similar course before, and I even got a better grade (B+), but did not really put in effort. This time I swore to myself I would work hard, and I did, but then surprisingly received a lower grade, so yeah I feel like want to kill the department (no I am joking, I wont kill anyone).
  10. Jun 4, 2012 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    In one CS course I was given a low grade on a project and when I questioned the prof discovered that based on how I named my variables he assumed I was working with another group whose program didnt work right. When he ran it he found it did work correctly and changed my grade to A.

    In another course, the TA wasn't grading my my HW at all. The prof asked me why I hadn't submitted any HW for the course and I said I've submitted all assignments per his request via email. The next day miraculously they were all "found" by the TA. In the same course, I was told I hadn't completed my final project either even though I had demoed it in class in front of the other students.When I propsed to show him he told all HW and projects were deleted from the computer. When I proposed to resend it to him for review he said it was too late.

    Later I learned that the CS dept was mad at me for transferring 3 courses in to complete my Masters degree and that I was one of 3 designated students to "flunk" the qualifying exam for the degree. All of us were professional programmers at the time. There was nothing we could do except to retake the exam 6 mos later.

    Sometimes life isn't fair and you must choose your battles carefully.
  11. Jun 4, 2012 #10
    Have you ever heard the phrase "A for effort"?

    That doesn't fly in college. Get used to it.
  12. Jun 4, 2012 #11
    If your professor think you deserve a B, then you most likely deserve a B.

    The best you can do is to sit together with your professor and try to work out where you went wrong and what could improve.
  13. Jun 4, 2012 #12
    What if you're working for a company and you had to make a product for a costumer. And what if the delivered product doesn't work and the costumer complains?? What are you going to do, say that you tried really hard?? Life doesn't work that way.
  14. Jun 4, 2012 #13
    I know the feeling. Yes sometimes life can be unfair, and if there is nothing else we can do, we should learn to accept it. But I will continue to fight if I still can. So I am looking for some ideas from you all.

    Well, yeah, I am disappointed because my efforts did not produce the results I want. But I am not going to anyone saying "please have some leniency with me, I really really put in effort, give me A please". It is that I suspect there could be some unknown errors somewhere in marking my reports, or something might be missing.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  15. Jun 4, 2012 #14
    Hmm my prof didn't say that I deserved a B, he only asked me to submit a review request when I emailed him last time.
    But I will email him again, though. Thanks for your advice. I couldn't talk to him in person because I am now overseas on a summer course.

    Yes, I understand that. I mean, it feels painful when you tried really hard and things just went wrong, but I know it happens. I will gracefully accept it if I am not good enough, I will just try harder next time. In your example, those sort of things happen, and I will apologize to the customer and make the customer a new product for free.
  16. Jun 4, 2012 #15
    This is usually the case but sometimes it isn't. One time I got a B on a homework assignment because I didn't restate the textbook problems in my solution even though my solutions were perfect. The professor never said that we had to do so and he never made a syllabus so there wasn't anything I could reference when writing up the homework. I had neglected to restate problems in other classes and I was never penalized. Also, in the same class, 2 of my friends submitted nearly identical solutions (they worked together) and he gave one of my friends an A and the other a C. The C girl of course appealed and got her grade raised but still...
  17. Jun 4, 2012 #16


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    You should ask the department what the policy is on returned assignments. I think that's an awful thing to do to students. If they don't know how well they are doing on their assignments, how can they know if they actually grasp the subject? Especially with harder classes, it seems like your first attempt at a problem is always wrong. If you must submit your first attempt and never find out if what you did was correct or not, what's the point?

    As most people have mentioned, you earn the grade you earn and some professors are just much tougher than others. However you still should be able to find out how well you're doing.
  18. Jun 4, 2012 #17
    Yes, that's it. Sometimes there could be mistakes. That is what I am hoping for.

    Well, the assignments will not be returned, but perhaps I can get it back upon request (too late anyway). You are right, it might be that my first report was already bad. And then I excitedly continued to use the same method over and over, not knowing it is not the right direction.
    By the way, in this course, students are asked to write reports for every experiments performed, so the assignments are the reports, and there are no problem-solving involved.

    Yes, I also know how to accept reality, so I will accept it if it is really my grade. It is just that I want to make sure there is really no technical mistake in the grading process, and I am hoping there is, but I am not appealing for any leniency to raise my grade. I have submitted a review, but they said they can confirm the marks totalled correctly. But I still suspect that there could be mistakes in, maybe, not in summing the marks but somewhere else, eg. missing reports.

    I will try to contact the professor to see if I can actually find out how well I did in that course. Thanks for your suggestions.
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