There are all sorts of valid reasons that a teacher might give you a grade you disagree with. But sometimes, teachers use a grading scheme that just makes you scratch your head, or maybe even storm into their office demanding justice!
[Source listed at the end of the article.]
“I had a history teacher who wanted our test answers to be EXACTLY like the textbook.
I know it’s history, you can’t change facts or names, but this woman would not even let us change the grammatical format of the sentence.
For example, if the sentence was he ruled from 1822 to 1840, and I wrote ‘his rule lasted from 1822 to 1840, she would deduct marks for that. Are you kidding me?
Moreover, if someone tried to argue, she’d deduct their marks for arguing with her. She was a senior teacher and was respected by everyone in school, so we students were really scared to complain. As a result, we had no choice but to mug up each and every word of the text if we wanted to pass!”
“In college I had a Physical Education teacher who on his tests had multiple choice questions where there could be more than one right answer.
If there were five possible choices, then the answer could be that all five may need to be marked, or none of them, or any combination in-between. Each question was worth 1 point, but if you marked all of the options incorrectly you would lose 5 points. Put another way, a twenty-question test was worth 20 points, but you could get very easily receive a negative score, going all the way up to -80%. Since 80% was the required score to pass, this meant that you needed a score of 16, so you could mark no more than 4 options wrong on the entire quiz.
I tried to point out to him that his multiple choice questions were really a set of five “true or false” questions where we had to get all of them right in order to score a single point. Thus, it would make way more sense for each option to be a separate question, meaning it would be a 100-question test worth 100 points, but he just couldnt see it. He was really good friends with one of my math professors so I had my math professor try to explain it to him with the same result.
Fortunately the test was easy enough that most people were able to figure it out, but for some getting 96% right was virtually impossible. For me it was the whole principle of the thing.”
“It was 10th and 11th Grade English. I had a teacher who was… unconventional. She was simultaneously loved and hated for her antics, wildly inappropriate stories, and oddness.
Unlike most English teachers, In terms of grading, she despised written exams; I remember once she had us do a 2-day written exam about a collection of stories we read, and the next week she came back and said, Everyone gets an A because my neck hurts from reading all these papers.
So she mostly stuck to the old multiple choice for her tests. Until she got this ‘fun’ idea.
Both years it was the same deal: the school curriculum said she had to teach us The Great Gatsby and Shakespeares Julius Caesar, so she’d start the year off having us read various classic books and plays. But here’s the thing: she wasn’t a huge fan of the curriculum. So invariably, halfway through the year (oftentimes in the midst of reading some required book) she’d decide to throw the curriculum out the window and have us read (then watch) J.R.R. Tolkiens The Hobbit and watch Lord of the Rings. And just as she threw out the curriculum, so too did she throw out conventional exams.”
“I went to an alternative school where your homework for the semester was to write two-page essays on five or six topics.
After you finished your essays, you would take an essay exam that was based on whatever you wrote in your essays. Your grade in the class was entirely determined by that exam.
If you got less than a 90 on the exam, you were allowed to retake it (up to three times). If you got less than a 70 on the exam, you were forced to retake it.
Your exam grade was based on the number of sentences you wrote. A ‘C’ student would write four sentences for each question, a ‘B’ student would write six sentences, and an ‘A’ student would write eight sentences. The teacher told us this in advance.
This was how the grading worked for every class (except math, where the exams were computation-based). For PE classes, we had to write an essay, and take an exam on, the history and rules of the sport.
Honestly, I couldnt wait to get out of there.”
“My teacher in sixth grade ended the year with a project that had a big impact on our grade. She decided that instead of a normal grading scale, she would grade us on her own scale and tell us what the equivalent letter grade would be. In her scheme, 75 and above would receive an ‘A,’ 60 and above a ‘B,’ something like that.
The only problem was that she still put those number grades directly into the school’s standard grade book (where a 70-80 was a B), so a student who she said got an ‘A’ with 75 would get a B in their official grades!
When I pointed this out and explained the problem, her reply was, ‘Oh, so that’s why students who have done well on the project in previous years have had their grades drop.’
I don’t know how many years she’d been using this system for, but hopefully it ended with us.”
“I had a professor in 1973 who had a strange grading system, but one that we all understood. He had a lecture class with hundreds of students, and he had TAs (graduate student teaching assistants) who graded the exams.
Unfortunately, with essay tests, different TAs graded slightly differently, so it was possible for two people to give substantially the same answer yet get slightly different scores.
The teacher, though, had a unique solution. If you came up with your friends test and showed him that you should have gotten five more points on one answer, he would mark your friends test down that five points.
Since he told all of us that was his solution on the first day, nobody complained.
I might add that his grades were generous on average. I was getting a ‘C’ in his class, but probably didnt deserve it. He ended up giving me a ‘B’ because I demonstrated my knowledge of the subject in verbal conversations with him. I was just lousy at writing essay answers. Nowadays, Id do better, but we couldnt use computers back then.”
“This happened with my brother when he was writing an exam.
Before he began, the teacher placed a book in front of everyones desk and said, ‘In this book are the answers to your test.’
My brother was flabbergasted. What was going on? He was GIVING away the answers to the test.
Now, my brother is incredibly smart. And has a sense of honor. The test had two possible solutions, one being detailed in the book. He decided to use his wits, and solve the test the second way, instead of taking the easy route. He solved it successfully without the book.
Two weeks later, everyone got back their results. 60% for all students.
That was the teachers last month at that college. Maybe he wanted to be remembered for messing with his students one final time. Or saving them, for those who didnt study.”
(1/2) “I had a College level Theology class where our final examination was worth 95% of our grade and consisted of showing up and finger painting for an hour.
This occurred during my Freshman year at Southern Illinois University. The only class that properly fit into my schedule was a pan-religion theology course taught by a very eccentric hipster teaching assistant in his mid 20s. He looked sort of like Hagrid from the Harry Potter novels.
This teaching assistant was not a fan of the ‘system,’ or ‘the man.’ In his class we learned such valuable things as conspiracy theories and the salary of our school administrators. If the weather was bearable wed have class outside.
Anyhow, due to budget cuts the University was considering cutting quite a few majors and classes.”
(2/2) “The pan-religious theology course was on the chopping block and my professor had a bone to pick with the administrators. He would attend all of their meetings and lobby in favor of the existence of the courses he taught. During one such meeting, apparently a school administrator said to our teachers face that the school needed to generate revenue and classes that taught ‘finger painting’ like his would be the first to go. Ouch.
I think our teacher sensed that his days at the University were numbered. However he still had our class and the courses grading policy was entirely at his discretion. As a parting gesture of defiance he announced that our final would consist of a fun finger painting hour. We all showed up for the final, paints were passed out, and we took our examination. I painted a scenic picture of a sailboat in the ocean. For this I received three college credits and an A+ in pan-religious theology.”
“In my freshman year, we had a single class that combined History with English, and had a teacher for each respective subject. They decided together that they would grade us with ducks.
Allow me to explain. They had a 4×4 chart where the leftmost top duck was the happiest and the rightmost bottom duck was the saddest. For every assignment, you received a different ‘duck grade.’
Though strange, this does seem fine in principle as you would think you could still tell around where your grade would be. However, it didn’t really work out that way…
Despite many people getting a majority of leftmost top ducks (including me), only one person in our 40 ish student class actually got an A first semester, so the system proved to be a bit misleading.
When I went in talk to the teachers, along with others in the same confusing situation, we all got the same response. They told us what to work on for next semester, and wouldn’t address the confusion. So, we all tried to do better second semester, and a few did, but the system still felt unjustified to many in my class.
I hope they don’t still do this. Many in my class thought they did this on the basis of favoritism or something discriminatory, though I just think it was a flawed system. If we must have grades, they should just be the straight forward traditional kind that keep everyone satisfied, at least to know the truth.”
(1/2) “I had a mineralogy professor at Michigan Technological University in 2000 who was a character. He was a grizzled-looking guy in his sixties, bald-headed and with an unkempt gray beard. He was a smart man and a nice guy, but a difficult teacher.
Anyway, I was doing ok in the class. Not great, but alright. I had an 83%. Almost a B, probably a BC under Michigan Techs weird grading scale (a BC being half way between B and a C, like a combined B-/C+). There were students from two very different departments in the same class, each comprising around 50% of the class. Half were geologists, of which I was one. The other half were mining engineers.
No one had an easy time in the class, but the mining engineers really struggled badly. As the professor explained at the end of the semester, he was faced with a grading dilemma.
‘All of the geology students have grades between 96% and 83%. All of the mining engineers have grades between 60% and 18%, with a mean around 32%. If I leave the grade scale as it stands now, all of the geologists will pass and every last mining engineer will fail.'”
(2/2) “My professor went on: ‘I cant just fail an entire department, though. If I slide the grading curve down the scale to pass most of the mining engineers, then every geology student will get an A and that will raise alarms with the school. Instead, the only fair thing I can think of is to expand the bell curve.
And thats what he did. An A was 10096%, an AB was 9592%, a B was 9188%, a BC was 8784%, a C was 8328%, a CD was 28 to zilch.
I got the short end of the stick. Not only was my grade lowered from a BC or maybe even a B down to a C, but I ended up with the same grade as people who had originally earned a fraction of mine. In what world does a person with an 83% get the same grade as someone with a 28% in a class? Well, in mineralogy at Michigan Tech in Fall of 2000. Kind of a poor incentive for hard work.
I didnt complain in an official capacity because the professor has the right to choose a grading scale for his/her class and, by his chosen scale, I got the grade I deserved. Hasnt stopped me from complaining about it almost two decades later, though!”
“The first day I went to my sophomore Geography class, the teacher gave us a test to study for. We had to remember the placement, first names, and last names of everyone in our class. Spelled correctly.
Now, for the grading scale.
70% if you did not include the correct last name, but had a misspelled first name.
80% if you misspelled the first name and/or last name.
100% if everything was correct.
This meant that the kid who made one mistake would get the same grade as the kid who misspelled everyones name.
When I pointed out the missing 90%, she asked me to make a grading scale.
I’m giving it to her on Tuesday. I’ve heard this teacher is petty and mean, and does this to torture her students. Wish me luck?”
(1/2) “I had a teacher who really, truly graded on a curve.
People think they know what ‘grading on a curve’ means, but most people use it wrong. They think it means that the teacher will take the highest score and set that as the new ‘top’ of the grading scale, giving all those who didnt do as well a boost to their scores.
That isnt how a true bell curve works. The teacher I had believed that everyone fit on that curve: some people would score at each tail of the curve and the majority would fall in the middle.
This means that in a class of 10 people, the grades would fall like so:
1 person gets an A
2 people get a B
4 people get a C
2 people get a D
1 person gets an F
(2/2) “This teacher scored his tests so that there were minute score variations possible (partial credit on answers and such), and then ran statistical formulas so the scores would be forced to a standard curve.
Whoever got the highest score received the A, and whoever had the lowest score received the F, even if the score would normally have been a passing grade! All the rest were distributed between the rest of the scores.
So the class environment was absolutely cutthroat because it didnt matter if everyone scored 90% or above on the test, a 91% might still earn you a D for the grading mark. This meant that you could get what would normally be considered passing scores on all your tests and still fail the entire course!
Complaints to the administration fell on deaf ears: the professors were given autonomy in their classes so long as they did not violate any anti-discrimination laws. So long as he applied the grading policy equally to all students, he was permitted to set it however he saw fit.
Since that class I never, ever, asked a professor if they grade on a curve. I dont want to give them any ideas.”
“In 5th grade, our teacher, who was 2 weeks away from retiring, made what was probably one of the biggest mistakes of her career.
We had just finished our final math test, and she was putting in the grades. One student in particular was failing on the year. He got a 67 on the test. The teacher, wanting to just be over with it was rushing and accidentally gave the kid a 6700%. It wasn’t caught until the classes were already set up for next year.”
“I had a college professor who had this big grey beard and was kind of a strange guy. He was a good teacher, but his grading was ridiculous: he only gave one A per class and then curved everyone else around that person. It was horrible! You could essentially get ‘C’s and ‘D’s with what should have been ‘B-‘ average grades if the rest of the class did similarly or better than you.
I ended up with my first C in college because of this lovely system, even though I had an 86 average in the class.”
“My high school gym teacher graded students based on how well they performed specific skills in each sport we played. For example, if we learned volleyball during the semester, we would get graded on setting, spiking, and serving. Each would be worth 10 points and you had to do each ten times. So every time you missed, you lost 10 points.
Additionally, you had to run 10 laps in a particular time, and every lap you did not complete, you would lose 10 points. Never mind the 3 points that were docked if you showed up either out of PE uniform or if your uniform was deemed inappropriate (too short, too tight, etc).
It was definitely NOT an easy A. Did I mention it was MANDATORY to take PE all four years of high school, and that it was three days a week? Good times, good times.”
“I was in Grade 7, and I was required to write an informal letter to my mother telling her how much I missed her at my boarding school. (We only got to spend one hour with our moms when they would come to visit, once per semester. It was brutal.)
Anyhow, the word limit was 150 words.
I failed. Want to know why?
Before I start, I’ll let you know that I can elaborate easily. A ten page essay will make my hand hurt, but I will have no trouble on figuring out what to write. I’m the guy who you can ask to give a speech immediately without any warning and won’t fail you.
Anyhow, I failed because I passed the word count by THREE WORDS.
I lost five marks on my exam because of this. My exam was out of 20. 75% was a failing grade at this school. You can imagine why I missed my mom so much.”
I had a geometry teacher who attempted to grade her class on a normal curve in every single case, no matter what. If everyone got all of the answers on the test correct, all would receive a letter grade of C. She would regularly fail students who had gotten 90 questions out of 100 correct.
When presented by a few students (very bright students who had been accelerated by two years to be in that class) who had studied some probability and statics on their own with the fact that her curve lacked enough data to be valid , she didn’t understand their point. When they shared that a 10-point difference on a particular test did not match a two standards of deviation-difference in letter grade, she didn’t understand that, either.
Fortunately, the schools principal did, and he forced the teacher to abandon her scheme and to retroactively reassign letter grades that reflected only the percentages of correct answers. Whew!
“Not my teacher, but a friends teacher. She used a 4-point grading system where 1 was ‘awful,’ 2 was ‘pretty bad,’ 3 was ‘meets expectations’ and 4 was ‘exceptional.’ For any assignment, she would divide the assignment into categories and then choose 14 for each. She would then add up all of the points and divide it by the maximum to get a percentage grade.
This seems normal, until you notice that ‘meets expectations’ is actually the highest possible score when we’re talking about objective rules of grammar and spelling. The ‘expectation’ was that you followed all of these rules perfectly.
This meant that even if you cited all of your sources, used perfect grammar and spelling, you COULD NOT GET 100% no matter how hard you tried. The highest possible score was 75% in conventions, as opposed to having the system change for those rules.
Heres the kicker: When my friend tried to bring this up to her, she dismissed it as a complaint that he had gotten a low score on a perfect essay.
I actually read over it and it was amazing. His writing was flawless, but he got a B+ on it because he only ‘met expectations’ for grammar. What was he supposed to do to be ‘exceptional,’ invent a new type of sentence structure?”
“We have a new Computer Science teacher at my school, let’s call her ‘Mrs. A.’
After one lesson, Mrs. A gave us this big assignment that she would mark out of 40. For the few of us, including myself, who managed to complete it pretty much perfectly, we got this amazing conversation in return:
Student: ‘Mrs. A, whyd I get a 37? You didn’t grade anything incorrectly, and I didnt miss out on anything.’
Mrs. A: ‘Thats true, your work was flawless.’
Student: ‘So why didnt I get a 40?’
Mrs. A: ‘I took off a couple of marks, just in case something on your paper might be wrong.’
Thanks a lot, Mrs. A.”