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Four Surprises about College Grading

Although university students are very concerned about grades, most know little about how grading is actually done. Here are four surprising things about how grades are determined at the college level.

1. No more than ten minutes will be spent on grading your assignment, and often it will not be graded by your professor. Many large classes in large universities have assignments graded by graduate students or a professional grader from a private, third party resource.

2. The grading is actually quite objective, even on essay answers. Quality essay responses are easy to spot. And contrary to popular opinion, there is less grade inflation than you might believe. A’s are still in scarcity, and grading on a curve is actually not used as often as you have been led to believe.

3. Long answers can work against you. In an essay situation, it is best to state your main point up front, in the very first paragraph, and then end with a succinct summary or a thoughtful, novel conclusion. Fluff is easy to spot and will most certainly lower your grade.

4. Most grades don’t get changed on appeal. Professors cannot take effort into account; they can only reward accuracy and completeness. Second chances are rare, especially extra credit. It is best to accept the low grade and seek advice from the professor on specific strategies for improving performance on exams and essays remaining in the term.


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