My college separates theory and practical grades. I have poor grades in theory like I scores around 60 ~ 80 in most of my theory grades. But except two practical exams in which I scored between 80 to 90 I got above 90 in every single practical exam. Even in my Engineering thesis and cumulative viva I scored above 90.

Applying to grad schools is a costly process so I am thinking if I should choose colleges based on my practical grades or theory grades. I can only apply to 5 ~ 6 colleges at max. Maybe less too.

Practical exams are given 2 credits and theory exams around 3 to 4. Engineering thesis was for 8 credits and cumulative viva 2 credits.

One of the reasons I scored poorly in theory grades was cause 5% of marks is awarded based on the candidates attendance and I had below 40% all throughout my undergrad study. But its not mentioned in the grade cards though.

Edit: I am a computer science student.

  • I am from India, country with insanely dense population and most liberal exit visa policy. Almost all of the Indian colleges I know separate practical and theory grades so I am sure this question could be helpful to many.
    – Aditya
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 11:47
  • What sort of subjects is this about? A pratical/theory distinction doesn't always make sense, and the potential answers certainly could depend on the subject even more.
    – Arno
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 12:18
  • Computer science. Sorry I forgot about that.
    – Aditya
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 12:31
  • I don't mean to discourage you, but please also take into account that marking for practicals is, in general, a lot more lenient as compared to theory. What is the lowest score that anyone got in these practical exams?
    – 299792458
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 15:50
  • 2
    You should perhaps clarify what subfield of computer science you intend to pursue, and whether it would be a masters or PhD. Generally, I would expect that grad school in computer science, especially at the PhD level, would skew more towards theory. Perhaps one of the computer scientists here will clarify, but I believe that practical skills such as programming are less of a focus at the graduate level, whereas theory is emphasized. Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


I may be suggesting the obvious but it will depend on your program and your level.

For a course based masters program with a practical bent I would imagine they would look upon your grades favourably. These tend to include some sort of practical capstone project required to earn the degree. If it's thesis based, it would tend to imply some theoretical work.

For a PhD, expect theory. Really, why else would they be PhDs?

Further, most of the applications I've seen (and submitted) tend to speak to a well rounded applicant profile. They want to know about the work you've done, volunteer experience, publications, and your academic history.

But perhaps most importantly in your situation, they tend to want some form of personal statement outlining why you both want and deserve to be in a program. This would be your opportunity to convince them; much like a cover letter.

I'm in the western world however, and cant speak to institutions beyond that sphere.

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