Scoring well on an exam can be very stressful for everybody.
Burning the midnight oil and studying the textbook inside and out, just to get that perfect score. What sucks the most is when the all-nighters become completely useless because you don’t score well on the exam. Even worse if the reason you didn’t score well on the exam is the teacher’s “out of this world” grading scheme. It just leaves you scratching your head in surprise. There are all sorts of valid reasons why you may not agree with the given grade. And all you want to do is storm to your teacher’s office for justice!
Here are a few of the most frustrating stories of students where teachers graded them ridiculously:
1. This teacher who completely missed out the point of education.
“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!”
– Mahenoor Khan
2. This just leaves us to one question – Is that even a legit scoring system?
“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 couldn’t 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.”
– Carl E. Zimmerman
3. Perhaps, it’s time to contact the wizards and hobbits.
“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 Shakespeare’s 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. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and watch Lord of the Rings. And just as she threw out the curriculum, so too did she throw out conventional exams.”
– Austin R. Justice
4. At least she was straight up about it.
“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 couldn’t wait to get out of there.”
– Jessica Su
5. Bet you’ve never heard of this before.
“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.”
– Tyler Buchman
6. It leaves us wondering….
“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 TA’s (graduate student teaching assistants) who graded the exams.
Unfortunately, with essay tests, different TA’s 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 friend’s test and showed him that you should have gotten five more points on one answer, he would mark your friend’s 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 didn’t 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, I’d do better, but we couldn’t use computers back then.”
– Dave Williamson
7. Is this a part of the test?
“This happened with my brother when he was writing an exam.
Before he began, the teacher placed a book in front of everyone’s 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 didn’t study.”
– Daniel Bauwens
8. I would like to meet this guy.
“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 20’s. 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 we’d have class outside.
Anyhow, due to budget cuts the University was considering cutting quite a few majors and classes.”
“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 teacher’s 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 course’s 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.”
9. I’m going to duck you marks for that.
“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.”
– Murphy Rodriguez
10. The perks of studying mineralogy .
“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 Tech’s 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.”
That’s not where it ends….
“My professor went on: ‘I can’t 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 that’s what he did. An A was 100–96%, an AB was 95–92%, a B was 91–88%, a BC was 87–84%, a C was 83–28%, 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 didn’t 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. Hasn’t stopped me from complaining about it almost two decades later, though!”
– Craig McClarren