I just found my grades for the fall semester, in an introduction to international relations class that I took, I got a B.

I got a 93% on the midterm, which was worth 25% of the grade.

I always came to class prepared, having done the reading, and actively participated, so I probably got an A in participation, which is 5% of the grade.

There was a mock UN simulation which was worth 20% of the grade that I felt my group did pretty well on, but I never got an actual score back. I made some small mistakes, but worse case scenario, I think I got around an 85%.

My final paper, worth 25% of the grade, everyone said that it was a really good paper, and that it deserves an A, even people who took the same class from her, as well as writing tutors that I went to.

The other 25% of the grade was reserved for quizzes that according to the syllabus, we're supposed to take place every two to three weeks. However, she only gave us two. The first one, she failed everyone, and said that she did that to scare us, and make sure that we read the material. The second one, I got an A on.

I asked her about the quizzes, and she said that they were used for extra credit, which doesn't make sense according to the syllabus.

I am really confused about why I got a B, and I think that she might have made a mistake.

Should I talk to her about it when I go back to school, and if so, do you think that she made a mistake?

closed as off-topic by RoboKaren, Benjamin Mako Hill, earthling, David Richerby, Peter Jansson Dec 27 '14 at 11:31

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    "She failed everyone" seems to me to be more like "everyone failed." Perhaps that first quiz was unusually hard, but it was you who failed. – Bob Brown Dec 26 '14 at 3:55
  • Related question What to do about "grade grubbers?" – scaaahu Dec 26 '14 at 5:56
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    Suggestion: Don't ask about your final grade (and its computation). Instead, ask something like "could I see my grades for [whatever the individual assignments were that you don't have grades for yet]?" This shouldn't be difficult for her to give--she should already have calculated and saved those grades somewhere. Then, you can do the math yourself and see why you got a B. – apnorton Dec 26 '14 at 20:00

To expand Bob Brown's answer, yes, you should talk to your professor politely with the objective how to improve your study in the future.

In my opinion, your grade is probably on the borderline between A and B. You need to ask her what grade you got for the final paper (worth 25% of the grade). [E]veryone said that it was a really good paper, and that it deserves an A is not enough for you to say you did get an A on it. You need ask her how well was your final paper.

Generally speaking, it's not easy to change a grade after it's out of the professor's office unless there was an obvious calculation error.So, don't expect she will change your grade from B to A unless your final paper was extremely well written.

I won't be surprised if she tells you that your final paper was okay but not good enough for an A. In that case, you should ask her what you can do to improve your writing skills so that you can get better grades for the future essay writing assignments in other courses. Good luck!

  • To scaaahu, in my college, we have a + and - system. So it was strange that I got a solid B, given that a classmate of mine, who got a C- on the midterm, and wrote a worse paper than mine (I read it, and he didn't even address the points on the prompt), got a B-. It's just strange that I worked so hard, did what I was supposed to do, and got a B. – Kevin Gawora Dec 26 '14 at 5:35
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    @KevinGawora Grading on essay writing is sometimes subjective. It is what the professor thinks of your paper counts. – scaaahu Dec 26 '14 at 5:44
  • Scaahu, I guess you're right. However, I did recieve 95% on the essay portion on my midterm, so the professor thinks I am a good writer. Therefore, although I might have not necessarily gotten an A on my final paper, I probably got like a B+ or an A- – Kevin Gawora Dec 26 '14 at 6:21
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    @KevinGawora The point of my answer is to encourage you talk to the professor for improvement in the future, not to argue for the grade. You are a sophomore year student. You have plenty of chances to make it up for that B. If you keep studying hard, I think you can get very high GPA. A grade B in an intro class is really a minor issue for a good student like you (judging from other parts of the grading you described in the question). Be cool and have a happy holiday. – scaaahu Dec 26 '14 at 6:32

Yes, you should talk to your professor. Do not use the word "mistake." Just ask how your grade was calculated.

  • @saachu thanks for your holiday wishes, and I hope that you enjoy your holidays as well – Kevin Gawora Dec 26 '14 at 6:41

You can always come and say that you suspect a clerical error somewhere and want to check the calculations. Such a request is totally reasonable and I see no reason to get it rejected because when 4 people (1 professor and 3 TA's) grade 120 students, a few grading errors are inevitable and when one instructor grades 10 students and something distracts him, errors are still possible.

However, the only thing you can insist upon is what is explicitly (yes, explicitly, nobody cares about how you (mis)interpret the words: the Supreme Court role here belongs to the instructor and the instructor only) written in the class syllabus. Again, no argument should ensue if you just say: "Look, it says 120 points is an A, and I have 123".

Everything else is at the discretion of the instructor. You can make a sad face and say "Poor me! Just getting my very first non-A grade after all that hard work!" (or something else with the same meaning) and it may work, but don't get offended or frustrated if it doesn't. As long, as the formal computation yields B, getting anything better is a favor that may or may not be granted in exceptional cases, but not a right to fight for (no "Give me a perfect grade or give me death!", please. Remember that even if your name is Patrick Henry, you are standing not in front of convention delegates, but in front of His Majesty Colonial Army officer, so his choice may be not quite the one you expect... ;-) )

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