Grade scales confuse students

Caitlyn Lear, Staff writer

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On the first day of class the most important paper you will get all semester from your professor is the syllabus.

It outlines all the important exams, projects and papers that will be graded throughout the semester.  Yet, the part that everyone looks for first is the dreaded grading scale.

The relief of seeing that a 90 percent is all you need for an A is the best, as opposed to the sinking feeling you get when you realize you need a 94 percent to get an A in Calculus.

I am all for a strict grading policy.  It keeps students accountable for their work, attendance and participation in class.

The fact that each department and on the occasion, different classes within the same department, has a separate grading scale can become confusing and annoying.

I went to public high school where 93-100 percent was an A, and 86-92 percent was a B.

We didn’t have A- or B+; just straightforward letter grades.

We all had to work harder to reach that A, but it was well worth it in the end.  Plus, I knew that for every single class I was in, that grading scale was the same.

Here at Mercyhurst, that is surely not the case.

I have five classes, three of which have labs, and trying to keep the grading scales separate is tiresome.  When getting tests back and trying to do quick calculations as to my standing grade, I always have to drag out my syllabus just to try and figure out whether or not I passed.

With the scales being so different, a decent grade in one class could be almost failing in another.

For example, if I got a 77 percent on my Ethics exam, with a 94 being an A, that grade turns out to be a D+.  Yet if I got the same score one of my Chemistry exams, that has a 92 as an A, and it comes out as a high C+.

Another issue comes into play when the professor starts to curve the scale to help students out.  I have never seen a professor make the grading scale harder, and will always appreciate the extra assistance, but it just adds to the pain of trying to calculate grades.

Half of the time, the students are not told until final grades come out whether or not the scale has been curved.

If you are like me, calculating grades every week is important because it shows you where you stand and how much time you need to allot for each class.

Having to always check the grading scale just adds an extra step in the process.

To add to the complication, certain classes tend to take more time and effort than others.

This is not to say that each class is not important, but some classes will just need extra attention.  I am a science major, so many of my classes have labs associated with them.  So there are times when my lab reports or my exams need extra time, but I also have to worry about my core classes.

My core classes almost always seem to have a higher grading scale, yet less work and fewer points associated with the grade.  One small slip could send me from an A to a C.

I already have enough on my plate between classes, extracurriculars and my job.  Having to worry about grading scales and how it affects my grades and GPA is something I should not have to deal with.

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