An annoying aspect of working with a "strict" grading system (e.g., 90%+ = A, 85% = A-, 80% = B+, etc.) is what I call the "grade grubbing" phenomenon: the people who feel compelled to raise complaints about the grading because they didn't get the final score they want—but have no real argument in support of a higher grade. This is not about legitimate requests to reconsider because of a mistake but instead students searching for any reason why they deserve the X points they need to get a better grade. It’s exemplified by the kind of argument that begins “I know it’s wrong but . . . .”

I do not have the power to change the grading structure—that is imposed from higher up.

Are there any satisfactory methods of discouraging such behavior? I don't want to stop people with legitimate issues from asking for regrades (mistakes happen!), but I would like to avoid having to deal with the student who tries every which way to get the few points they need to move up a level.

  • 56
    I am just a student, but what many of my teachers have done is to say that at the end of the semester, there would be a couple of extra assignments that can be worth up to 3%(or enough to bump you up a grade). This way you focus their energy in a positive learning way
    – Jameo
    Apr 1, 2013 at 15:11
  • 19
    @SimonKuang In that book, he recommended that students consume 2 hours of the teacher's time (with question after question) every time the grade was lower than expected. The intent was to 'let the teacher know that there would be a price to pay for giving a low grade.' Of course, as a teacher, I would not tolerate this behavior.
    – earthling
    Jun 26, 2014 at 1:05
  • 7
    @Klik: That's not grade grubbing, since there's a problem with the actual question.
    – aeismail
    Jun 27, 2014 at 6:03
  • 11
    I really dislike the tone of the question. Your students are responding to the incentive system you created. That may frustrate you but it doesn't make sense to be upset with them. Feb 26, 2015 at 7:59
  • 22
    Actually, I don't have control over the "incentive system"; that is prescribed by the faculty. All I have control over is what I use as the passing mark and what is the differential between grade levels. Moreover, I have no problem with students asking for regrades based on the merits. A "grade grubber" is someone who comes to me saying: "I should get points on this question even though I did it wrong because X."
    – aeismail
    Feb 26, 2015 at 13:30

16 Answers 16


I usually say that my rule for regrades is like the NFL's rule for replay challenges: there must be "indisputable visual evidence" that the original grade was incorrect. For instance, scores were added incorrectly, or a correct answer was marked wrong.

If the score was a "judgment call" (for example, I deducted two points for some error and the student thinks it only deserved one point deducted), I won't change the grade, unless I did something really egregious.

I've seen the policy "We regrade the entire assignment and your grade could go up or down" but it makes me a little uncomfortable. It suggests an element of randomness or caprice in the grading, which I don't want to promote, especially for younger or weaker students who may already feel like their grade is random. I don't think students should feel like they have to roll the dice to get a genuine error corrected.

  • 24
    It suggests an element of randomness or caprice in the grading +1, agreed. Jan 3, 2015 at 15:01
  • 18
    It suggests an element of randomness or caprice in the grading — But there is an element of randomness in grading, just as there is in football refereeing.
    – JeffE
    Jan 3, 2015 at 15:02
  • 42
    I don't use the “We'll regrade everything if we regrade anything policy” because it suggests an element of vindictiveness. If the grading process is already presented as a conflict, students may feel a policy like this will give me the option to deduct points elsewhere in order to balance out any points they have “won” from the appeal. Jan 4, 2015 at 12:10
  • 37
    @O.R.Mapper My standard reply to such students: Your task is to provide an answer that is not only correct, but clearly correct. If I cannot determine whether your solution is correct after reasonable good-faith effort, its actual correctness is irrelevant.
    – JeffE
    Dec 17, 2015 at 20:33
  • 7
    @HopefullyHelpful I don't require students to solve problems in a particular way; every problem has multiple correct solutions, some of which I haven't seen before, all of which are worth full credit. But it's the student's responsibility to explain their approach so that I understand it, and so that I can be sure they understand it. If they don't feel incentivized to make their answer easy to read, then they don't get full credit, not because they think differently, but because their answer isn't easy to read.
    – JeffE
    Oct 10, 2016 at 2:11

I never had issues like that but I've heard the following solution by a colleague: The students inspect their works in the presence of the professor of TA. If they have any complaints they have to write them down and hand them in. There is never any discussion going on, but only written complaints are accepted. All written complaints are treated carefully and there may be a next date for inspection and even a next round but this can only consider things which have been addressed in the first round. I.e. you can't "grub for a point in exercise 1" in the first round and then try to "grub for another point in exercise 2" in the second round. All complaints have to be submitted in the first round.

What I've heard is, that this dramatically reduces grade grubbing and especially makes "grade grubbers" think hard about their mistakes (which can be considered as a good side effect). As a matter of fact, it's much harder to articulate why you think that you deserve another point for some exercise if there is no clear "misgrading" if you have to do this in written form.

Edit some years later: Now I have some personal experience with this system. I did this at least six times and it works awesome. Where I am we have an official "grade grubbing date" called "Klausureinsicht" i.e. there is one date at which all students can have a look at their exams. I usually have 10 students in one room who can have a look at their exams at the same time. I answer all questions related to the content of the exam, but as soon as the grading is in question I hand out a paper and a pen and ask the student to write down their complaint. I even encourage writing complaints down. It further helps to cut off the discussion if I add that "I can't answer questions on the grading as I would have to look up how our general grading for this kind of solution/error is" (I actually have one but do not bring it to the Klausureinsicht). I collect all replies, keep them with the exams, check them and reply to the students via email on the spot or the next day. Answering the complaints is usually pretty easy. Most of the time I just write "The grading/deduction of points corresponds to our grading system." or "What you have written down does not show what you are complaining about/what you may intended to write and we can only grade what you have written." Only one time (out of several dozens) I had a student trying to continue grubbing.

Also, the fact that you can not change the grading system at your place is a big plus in my eyes, at least when it comes to grade grubbing. (One the other hand, you have to be more careful and work harder when producing the exam so that you can be pretty sure that the difficulty of the exam is ok.)

  • 3
    Are the responses for the regarding also written down?
    – aeismail
    Mar 31, 2013 at 19:27
  • 4
    I am not sure, but I think this is a good idea.
    – Dirk
    Apr 1, 2013 at 18:23
  • 44
    Just happened to see this discussion today (Nov '13). Requiring written (not email, not text-msg, not Facebook, not...) explanation/query of why the grade should be changed is an outstanding notion, if only because it changes the cost/benefit analysis (conscious or not) for students, and substantially deters grade changes for dubious reasons, exactly because students hate writing in complete sentences, being precise, etc. I wish I'd thought of requiring written communiques... :) Nov 27, 2013 at 22:49
  • 3
    Useful answer. Also, what's the literal English translation of "Klausureinsicht"? Google translate isn't being helpful in this case. Aug 29, 2018 at 15:05
  • 4
    Klausur translates to exam and Einsicht is inspection as in "inspection of files", so a literal translation would be "inspection of exams".
    – Dirk
    Aug 29, 2018 at 15:56

I have three primary methods for dealing with this behavior:

  1. On the first day of class, I mention that I won't tolerate grade-grubbing. I say that I am firm and will treat everyone equally. What I don't say is that students are much more likely to see leniency if they showed a good effort in class, and are nice about asking me to review a grade.

  2. I admit that I make grading mistakes (and so do the TAs), and we'll fix the problem if they occur.

  3. I have a policy that if you ask for a re-grade, I'll look at the whole assignment and if the end grade is actually lower, that's what you'll get (I don't think I've ever lowered a grade this way).

I would like to avoid having to deal with the student who tries every which way to get the few points they need to move up a level.

You'll always have to deal with a couple. If you set the ground rules on the first day, you'll see fewer on average.

  • 38
    (I don't think I've ever lowered a grade this way) — I have. I also ask for all regrade requests in writing, and I announce at the start of class that I never change grades (except for arithmetic errors) while the student is standing in front of me.
    – JeffE
    Apr 1, 2013 at 4:13
  • 9
    @JeffE "...while the student is standing in front of me" -- good advice! Apr 1, 2013 at 6:49
  • 6
    I also make it a point to announce that I don't hold court in class. The point there is that if the student makes a compelling argument for a response I don't want other students to bandwagon on it in an attempt for "free points"
    – John B
    Apr 2, 2013 at 4:44
  • 13
    In addition to #3, and JeffE's requirement that I will only handle regrade requests in writing (read: not by email), I also put a statute of limitations: I will only entertain regrade requests for one week after I return the assignment.
    – Ben Norris
    Apr 2, 2013 at 14:44
  • 8
    @JohnB: But it's the exact opposite! If a student makes a compelling argument about an answer which you marked as wrong, convincing you to accept it, then all students must bandwagon on it, i.e. if anybody else gave the same answer they should also have their grade increased.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:08

See these resources:



I posted the latter form on my door, and referred students to it when they came grumbling. They were furious the first couple of times, but then learned that it was a moot point to argue with me. (Although there was a case when I screwed up the final grade computation, and had to submit a few dozen grade change slips).

On a more serious side, I stopped doing the 60-70-80-90-100 cutoffs in the latest courses at all. Think about this: you are spending 70% of the test material and volume to test for a C, and then another 10% for a B, and then another 10% for an A. A much better use of your test problems is to have 1/3 of the problems address the grade of C, then another 1/3 of more complex problems to address the grade of B, and finally the most difficult 1/3 of problems address the grade of A. So in my exams, I would state something like:

There are 12 problems on this test marked at level C; you need to get 10 of them right to get the grade of C. There are 10 problems on this test marked at level B; you need to get at least 8 problems at level B or higher, and at least 15 problems total, to get the grade of B. There are 8 problems on this test marked at level A; you need to get at least 6 problems at level A, and at least 20 problems overall, to get a grade of A.

That is, out of 12+10+8 = 30 problems, you need to do two thirds, pick and choose, to get a full A, and only a third to get a C. You got 4 A problems, 4 B problems, and 8 C problems? That's a B+ in my books; you are a far shot for the required 20 problems for A, but you fulfilled the B requirements, and slightly exceeded them by having completed a bunch of A problems. The problems would be clustered, on most occasions: a given "big" problem would start with two-three C points, progress to one or two B points, and then culminate in an A point. Some A problems would be stand alone ones. So there would be 8 to 10 "big" problems and items within it. The smartest students would work on 6 problems, get everything right, and leave early. Not so bright students would attempt everything and fail at everything, and walk away with a C. I've seen all of the different ways that students approached it, which showed their learning styles and testing strategies -- pretty interesting per se.

While initially confusing (I train students to it by giving like three quizzes based on this system in the first three weeks), this system works very well in the end. Before each test, I also give students rubrics stating what they need to know at C/B/A level (C level: know the formula; B: determine which formula to use in a given simple context; A level: know where the formula breaks down, and how), so there was very little arguing about grades: either you've done the problem to my liking, or you haven't; and then you just count the completes up.

  • 1
    What was the duration of these tests, in which students seeking an A had to solve at least 20 problems?
    – TCSGrad
    Apr 3, 2013 at 3:55
  • I did it in both Tue-Thu 75 minute blocks, and Mon-Wed-Fri 50 minutes blocks. The tests would vary in length appropriately, of course. A short 10 minute quiz would be just one "big" problem (see update above, in the end of the -2nd paragraph), with two C items, one B item, and one A item.
    – StasK
    Apr 3, 2013 at 13:18
  • 8
    @StasK that grade change request form it's just so entertaining Jun 9, 2015 at 9:41

There are some good answers here, especially Nate's, which most closely matches my own grading policies. One item that I want to highlight that hasn't been included in other answers is the time factor. You must put a strict time limit on regrade requests. My course policies are that I will accept regrade requests up to one week after the exam/homework/lab/etc was handed back to the students.

The main reason for the time limit is to keep a student from grubbing too much at the end of the semester. When someone discovers that they have a B in the class, they often try hard to find a few extra points in the hopes of getting over that cutoff into A-grade land. I want to put most of the graded events of the semester out of bounds for such searches. If those 2 points weren't important enough for a student to request the regrade back in September, then they aren't important enough in December, now that final grades are being calculated.

  • 1
    I have small enough classes that I can hand out exams during class and give the students time to look at them. I tell students that if they have any regrading requests they must leave the exam paper with me when they leave that day - once it leaves the room the grade is final. This also avoids certain kinds of cheating where students change their answers and then ask for regrading. But it does give the students a fair chance to make sure I have added up their points correctly, etc. Jan 3, 2015 at 14:03
  • 4
    I would add that this kind of policy can actually make the grade-grubbing process constructive. If the student goes over their exam a few days afterwards and examines carefully where each answer was marked incorrect, they might learn something about the problem or concept tested. Jan 4, 2015 at 12:14
  • 1
    -1 for referring to grade appeals as grade-grubbing. It's bad enough OP does that. Other than that, an appeal deadline is certainly justifiable. However, remember that the students might be in the middle of their exam period and it is more difficult to go over previous exams when you're studying for the next one.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:10

I know a prof who solved the problem by giving a free point to all the people who are just one point below the next grade. That way there are no students whose grade is on the boundary (e.g. nobody has 89%), so it is more difficult to get sufficient additional points for the grade above via grubbing. In effect this means the grading criterion is lowered, but since this depends on other factors as well (say, how difficult the test is), it hasn't led to administrative problems. The students are also happy with this sort of arrangement.

It also depends on how you give points. If you stick to multiple choice questions on a test, it's much harder to bargain for points.

  • 13
    "If you stick to multiple choice questions on a test, it's much harder to bargain for points": You are also likely to have a very bad test that doesn't do a good job of testing if students know how to apply material. I also don't like the idea of adding the "free" point, because it leads to arbitrary grading. Students shouldn't get the point just because they are on the border.
    – aeismail
    Mar 31, 2013 at 15:21
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    So what about people with 88%? Won't they grub to be able to land at 89% and therefore 90%? Or would people where grading mistakes happened not get the free point? This seems like a bad idea to me.
    – thejh
    Mar 31, 2013 at 15:31
  • 2
    @aeismail - funny, I've often heard that of multiple choice tests (also that thay are easy), but my impression (from some training in test-making) is that it's in fact just hard to make a good one. In other words, it requires not just knowledge on the subject matter, but also knowledge on test making. It also requires more questions, so many people think it's not worth the effort. But I've seen some very good ones as well, in the sense that they are nontrivial and manage to distinguish between different levels of knowledge of the students.
    – Ana
    Mar 31, 2013 at 15:52
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    @thejh - "So what about people with 88%? Won't they grub to be able to land at 89% and therefore 90%?" Well, logically yes, but psychologically/factually, no, they didn't feel entitled to do that.
    – Ana
    Mar 31, 2013 at 15:55
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    @thejh: I've done something similar to this for a long time; it's worked well for me. I don't formally tell people that "if you get an 89, I'll pretend it's a 90," but I do publish a grading scale that's higher than I intend to carry out. So, if I expect my "A line" to be at 90, I'll say you need a 92 to be guaranteed an A, but that "I reserve the right to curve that scale." I've used that system for 7 years and have never had a grubber.
    – J.R.
    Mar 31, 2013 at 19:55

Instead of discouraging grade grubbing the traditional way (by making it harder), you could also choose to discourage it by making it less necessary. Students are much less likely to fight you over a few points if one or both of the following are true.

  1. Have so many course points available that it would take an an entire assignment's worth of grade grubbing to move up a letter grade in the course. For example, if there are 1,000 points, and each exam is 100 points, then it would take on average about 10 exam points to increase your overall grade by 1%. To move up from a course grade of 87% to 90%, the student would need to find 30 points, equivalent to increase from a 70% to a 100% on an exam. All but the most ardent grade grubber will have trouble finding that many.
  2. Drop the lowest assignment(s) in certain (or all) categories. If you drop one out of 5 exams, two out of 10 quizzes, 5 out of 25 homework assignments, and so on, grade grubbers are less likely to come and try to make a deal over one low grade. They will focus more on doing better on a later assignment so that they can drop the bad assignment.

Each of these options lowers the marginal benefit of each additional point on an exam or assignment. At a point where the effort outweighs the benefit, most students will stop grubbing and only come complain when it is serious.

Alternatively, all of your assignments could be multiple choice with one correct answer and no partial credit.

  • 4
    Sadly, this is not an available option here. In Germany, homework is not allowed to count toward a final grade, and multiple exams are allowed only under exceptional conditions. (Yes, it's a flawed system.)
    – aeismail
    Apr 2, 2013 at 18:45
  • 13
    All but the most ardent grade grubber will have trouble finding that many. — Alas, the most ardent grade grubber seems to take my class every semester.
    – JeffE
    Apr 3, 2013 at 0:35
  • 3
    "Instead of discouraging grade grubbing the traditional way (by making it harder), you could also choose to discourage it by making it less necessary." +1 just for this. Making something more desirable and less accessible just encourages people to push harder for it rather than going the alternative, more "honest" route.
    – Joe Z.
    Apr 11, 2013 at 13:46
  • @aeismail There are universities in Germany that allow and actually do this. It depends on your Prüfungsordnung.
    – moooeeeep
    Oct 10, 2016 at 16:57
  • Disagree with item 1, because if there are many misgrading issues - and that's more likely to be frequent when there are lots of assignments and questions - this approach essentially "drowns" students in them. I like item 2, though.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:11

I think the best approach to these types of situations is honesty. I would never refuse a request to explain why how I arrived at a student's grade but if I feel that a student is going about the process in a non-constructive way then I tell them.

If the student's approach appears unprofessional to me then it likely does to others, so this is an opportunity for professional development. Focusing on the positive I would explain how education is about much more than grades and in addition to the other good reasons to strive to become an educated person, an over emphasis on grades damages their image to the faculty who will have to provide references etc...

  • 1
    @JoeZ. I am not sure I totally follow your comment but the point of my answer is that you are always being evaluated subjectively on your merits. If you act unprofessionally (i.e., grade grub) then you will be evaluated poorly in the eyes of the faculty. Most faculty that I know are much more impressed by serious students who clearly want to learn than they are by a high GPA. Furthermore, good professional habits (i.e., not whining about anything) will be far more valuable in the future than just a high GPA, so any opportunity to help students develop those habits should not be wasted.
    – DQdlM
    Apr 11, 2013 at 15:40
  • Wait, no, I misread your answer. I thought you were talking about the teacher acting unprofessional, not the student.
    – Joe Z.
    Apr 11, 2013 at 16:05
  • @JoeZ. Ha! well that would change things... I edited the answer to clarify who I was talking about.
    – DQdlM
    Apr 11, 2013 at 19:28
  • I deleted my original comment because it seemed fussy and immature, given the actual context of the answer. Your point in general is a good one; however, in order for your lesson to truly sink in, you need to convince them that grades don't matter much, as many university students are immigrants who come from backgrounds where such stratified grading determines their life's path (e.g. the Gaokao) and they believe that the professors tell them the non-importance of grades just to feel better, and "know" not to believe them. In my experience, it's those people who grub about marks the most.
    – Joe Z.
    Apr 11, 2013 at 19:44
  • In my case, I actually experienced the opposite phenomenon in my most recent semester. A class on logic gave me a very high grade that I really felt I didn't deserve, given how much I'd actually learned from the class (not a lot). However, given that the class was rather badly taught in the first place, I decided not to push the issue.
    – Joe Z.
    Apr 11, 2013 at 19:50

I consider all requests for re-marking. As said many times here, mistakes do happen and I'm only human. However, when I find a student who is being unreasonable, I tend to be even stricter in my interpretations than I was the first time around.

Of course, the difference between 85% and 86% is not normally significant (either in the quality of the work or the overall impact on a student's total grade for the module) but for those who think they can push for a 1% 'bump up' in grade may well find themselves with a 1%-2% 'bump down' (85% to 84%).

Teacher reputations spread quite quickly between students and I believe the students will act more appropriately once they realize they are not in a 'no lose' situation.

  • 3
    In a strict grading system the difference between 85% and 86% can be significant on a student's total grade for the module, but the difference between 85% and 84% may be insignificant. So the student may well be in a "no lose" situation.
    – emory
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:10
  • @emory It's a good point. Although the 'adjustment' could be more than 1-2%.
    – earthling
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:57

I am now 38yrs old and came across this site doing research for a graduate program. During high school I was not a "good" student. My grades were as bad as you could imagine and I paid strict attention to the grading methods that each teacher used. I did as little home-work as I could. Often home-work counted heavily in grading so I would need to max tests and especially semester finals (finals were usually 20% weighted in final averages). My typical finals week would require me to achieve 6-7 high "A" grades to achieve a D and pass the courses. My GPA at graduation was 1.82, I loved to listen to lectures and to read texts but I never wanted to do the mundane work of reinforcement. When I went to college I found a grading style that I was very comfortable with namely tests, essays, exams I finished my B.S. with a 3.83 GPA and did it in five semesters. Very little about my approach changed from high school to college except that I more than doubled my course load.

I had one high-school teacher that gave us a choice about how we would be graded. He was a geometry teacher and he gave you the choice of Option A: 100% based on tests or Option B: 50% tests, 30% homework, 20% quizzes. You had to choose on the first day of class and sign a contract. I chose test option, and felt a vested interest making my choice the right one for me. He had one extra credit question on every test that was related to the topic but much more difficult I finished his class with 104% grade and likely the lone A of my high school career. I never did any home work but I hung on his every word in class and spent time while I was running working through geometric proofs in my head. I would have likely done that anyway but he is still an inspiration to me now and he is among the influences that have lead me to want to teach after I retire.

If a kid can present a compelling logical and supportable premise that supports regarding you should thank them for helping to improve your curriculum or your communication process; find a way to benefit from their observations. It may be an opportunity to apply some constructivist principles or you might have to expose them to a harsh truth that they are wrong.


I had a clever teacher in high school who responded to grade grubbing (with respect to a particular exam or assignment) in an effective way. He presented the student with a wager:

"I will be glad to mark that exam over again. However, you may end up with a lower grade. I will mark the entire exam, very carefully and strictly. You do not get to cherry pick which answers are reconsidered. Therefore, you may lose marks in places where I had been generous which may more than offset any gains. It is like a bet! Do you want to take the bet and have me check the exam?"

I don't know whether the students always declined the wager, but they did in every instance that I witnessed. Those students were not in fact confident that they deserved more marks, only that they deserved more marks in some particular question or area. More importantly, they knew very well that, overall, the teacher marked fairly, with a slant toward generosity.

  • 1
    -1 for vindictive deterrence. The students would likely decline the wager since they believe (probably justifiably) that you will be motivated to penalize them for appealing by finding reasons to decrease their grade.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:16
  • @einpoklum That teacher was one of the nicest I ever had; there was nothing vindictive about it.
    – Kaz
    Feb 14, 2017 at 2:19
  • 1
    Then he was an exception to the rule. I was judging merely by what you quoted - and I know of professors who are notoriously mean and use this kind of text as pure deterrent.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 14, 2017 at 9:09


  1. you have a strict grading policy; and
  2. 90%+ = A, 85% = A-, 80% = B+.

Then let epsilon be a margin of error such that you would be surprised if a regrade changed things by more than epsilon points. For this example, let epsilon be 1 point.

Now apply this algorithm

while (cutpoint-grade<epsilon)

Perhaps your initial grading will generate grades like 84.99

Then after applying the algorithm it might change to 85.01; or 83.99

From the grade grubbers point of view:

  1. 84.99: asking for a regrade is a no-brainer. If the regrade results in just a slight improvement, the grubber moves from B+ to A-. Even if the regrade results in a lower grade, the grubber will still most likely receive a B+.
  2. 85.01: not asking for a regrade is a no-brainer. It is unlikely the regrade will result in the 5 additional points necessary to move from A- to A, but there is a good chance the regrade will move the student to a B+.
  3. 83.99: not a no-brainer, but hopefully inertia will lead the grubber to inaction. Regrading will change the grade to somewhere in 82.99 - 84.99, -- solid B+ territory.
  • 1
    That algorithm causes an infinite loop if cutpoint-grade<epsilon is actually correct! How did you manage to escape this infinite loop to write this answer? ;)
    – Ben
    Mar 1, 2019 at 21:51
  • @Ben grade is a random variable. cutpoint is a constant. epsilon is chosen by you. If you choose a reasonable epsilon value then the algorithm will terminate early with an upgrade for the student. Or if you are smart, you will bypass the algorithm and just upgrade.
    – emory
    Mar 1, 2019 at 22:16
  • I would hope that when you have re-grade a student paper you would settle on the grade you think is correct, and thus grade would no longer vary after each subsequent re-grading.
    – Ben
    Mar 1, 2019 at 22:21
  • @Ben If after reading a student's essay you strongly believe that 89.999 and 90.001 are both appropriate grades but 89.99 is way too low and 90.01 is way too high then choose 0.001 as epsilon. Then after your first reading you decide 89.9995 is a good grade, then upgrade them to 90 b/c life is too short for meaningless distinctions. But if your first reading leads to 89.94 then don't upgrade them b/c you have apparently decided that there is a meaningful distinction.
    – emory
    Mar 1, 2019 at 23:00

When I was doing my bachelor degree, my department had a policy which made students more serious about asking for re-marking: when a student submit a formal request, he has to pay a small fee which will be refunded if his grade changes after being re-marked, otherwise the department will keep that money. Although I doubt that this solution can be applied everywhere, but it actually makes students to think carefully instead of blindly asking for re-mark all the time.

  • 1
    That policy creates a financial incentive to deny appeals on grades. -1 in my book.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:18

One class I took had a policy where if you submitted a regrade request, and it was denied, they took five points off your grade. They only did this for people who had already gotten at least one regrade request denied, so that students who had legitimate basis for regrades weren't discouraged.

  • That's horrible and unfair.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:18
  • So, like in the NFL, where in a coach tosses a challenge flag, and it turns out there is no evidence to backup the claim, the team is charged one time out. I approve. Feb 14, 2017 at 4:22

My experience is from a senior high school perspective. In the English department, it was usually essays or essay-format questions on tests that students wanted remarks because they thought they deserved a higher mark. If a student approached with this sort of request, and I as a teacher felt they were just fishing for extra marks, we would make a clean copy of the assignment, so that my comments/corrections/marks were not on the paper, and pass the paper over to the department head for re-marking, with the warning that his decision would be final and would replace the mark I had assigned--no matter if it was higher or lower. Of course our department head had the reputation of being the toughest marker in the department, and his re-marking often (but not inevitably) resulted in lower marks. Once the news got around that this was the way re-mark requests were being handled, the number of students who were just whining in case they could coax a few extra marks out of the teacher, dropped. They didn't want to take the chance that a re-mark would leave them worse off than before. The students who had a legitimate complaint still had a way to have it addressed, and of course addition errors were handled on the spot with no attempt made to discourage them.


TL;DR: Don't assume they're "grade-grubbers"; treat them fairly and respectfully, and consider their appeals on the merits.

You're pre-judging them - assuming that their appeals are invalid because they "didn't get the final score they want". Maybe what they want is the grade they deserve, based on their answers? Or maybe even it's the grade they deserve based on their command of the subject material, which may be poorly reflected in the grades? You've dismissed this possibility from the get-go, and en masse.

You've even adopted a derogatory nickname for them. Ha ha, very droll... not. Don't use it.

Have an orderly procedure for submitting and handling appeals (perhaps insist on appeals in writing with a guideline document for writing appeals). Don't try to penalize people or threaten penalties or negative repercussions when submitting appeals. Consider the appeals on the merits when you get them - whether it's an appeal about 10% of the grade or 1% of the grade. You do not have to be lenient in grading - but you need to be fair, consistent, and willingly consider the appellants' arguments.

Finally, if you get a lot of appeals, that's usually a sign there's something wrong either with the grading in general, or with the teaching-staff-students interaction, or with the choice of grading scheme, or all of the above.

  • 4
    I think you misread the question. This was not about how to deal with perceived "grade grubbers"; but how to discourage the behavior. The policy would exist to make grade-grubbing more difficult or not worth it. It does not imply that people who have concerns about their marking are grade-grubbing. It asks the question of how people acting with the intent to grade-grub can be stopped.
    – JMac
    Feb 14, 2017 at 18:49
  • @JMac: Oh, I read the question just fine. OP, and you, take for granted that what you're trying to stop is "real" grade-grubbing. And I'm telling you: It isn't; or at the very least, you should assume it isn't and treat it accordingly.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 14, 2017 at 19:34
  • 4
    There are several answers here which address students who are looking for legitimate feedback vs. grade grubbers. I'm really not sure why you're assuming otherwise. Most of the top answers are focusing on trying to establish a clear system which ensures fairness for all students. The idea behind the practice being not to discourage grade grubbing, but to make a system where some students can't take advantage, and the professors time is not wasted.
    – JMac
    Feb 14, 2017 at 19:38
  • @JMac: The fact that it's not clear to you why I assume otherwise, is a problem. Your perception of student appeals as undue "advantage taking" that Professors are "wasting time" on - is a problem. In my opinion. I'll say it again: It's not grade-grubbing; students are taking advantage of what they should be able to take advantage of, i.e. the right to appeal if they believe they were misgraded; and professors' time is not wasted in handling these appeals, it is just used.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 14, 2017 at 20:45
  • 1
    @cactus_pardner: From personal experience, I have not found this to be the case. Or at least - not if an appeal needs to be made formally and specifically in writing. This discourages appeals to pity rather than to reason. Note that this way it does hurt to ask, in that one needs to invest the effort of wording the appeal, which is not trivial.
    – einpoklum
    Mar 16, 2018 at 20:21

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