What can I do to raise my grade?


The short answer: do better on the next graded item.

Now, that is almost certainly not the answer you were expecting. In all likelihood, you wanted to hear something about retests or extra credit.

I don’t play those games. Do it right the first time if you want a high grade.

The whole point of grades is to measure your knowledge and ability at a particular point in time. Retests and extra credit violate this paradigm and make the grade less meaningful.

In the case of retests, this is because we expect growth over time—if I give you the same test over and over and over, we expect you to do better each time, until eventually you reach the limit of your ability to memorize. However, we’re not interested in your memorization of this test, but of the skills involved. This can be combatted by giving a different test each time, but we still expect growth from one test to the next. Giving different tests is also difficult, since we usually don’t have a lot of them floating around that we can use! On top of all of that, the point of the test was to measure your ability at that moment in time—not a week or month later.

Extra credit is even worse…often, this is little more than a grade giveaway.

Do I ever change a grade? Yes. Do I ever give extra credit? Sure. Have I ever given a retest, or allowed test corrections? Yes. In almost every case, however, the reason was NOT to raise a grade, but to take circumstances into account that might have caused the initial measurement of the grade to be suspect.

The moral of the story is to do it right the first time, because I rarely give second chances.


Page last updated 2012-03-29