The Differences Between High School and College Grading

The transition from high to college consists of many changes. College courses are often more rigorous, and students do not always know what to expect from their classes or their instructors. To help prepare you for your courses, here are several of the differences between high school and college grading.

Not all assignments are marked

In high school, you likely submitted at least one or two assignments per week for every course, each of which was reviewed by your instructor and applied to your overall grade in the class. Larger assignments may have been divided into smaller components. For example, submitting a rough draft or peer editing another student’s work may have garnered points if completed on time. These are some helpful tips on organizing your notes.

In college, you will find that not all work counts toward your final grade. In fact, it is not uncommon for certain assignments to go without review. College students are responsible for their own learning and understanding of the course objectives. Therefore, assignments may be given to help you master the material outside of class, but your instructor will not always collect them. Frequently, your grades will be based upon exams and major papers only, and your homework is simply a guide to prepare you for these. Here are 3 study tips to help you with college exams.

Results-oriented grading is common

Your teachers in high school likely graded your homework based not only on your answers, but also on the process you utilized to reach them. Math teachers, for example, often ask you to “show your work.” If you calculated one number incorrectly, but you used the correct formula and process, you may have been awarded partial credit.

Grading based on your process or steps is less common in certain college disciplines. Instead, grading is focused on the results you produce. For questions that involve a single correct answer, you will not receive credit for a wrong response. On writing assignments that require analysis or opinion, you will be graded on your ability to draw conclusions and support your assertions using appropriate evidence.

Different standards of grades affect your progress toward graduation

As a college student, you should most certainly strive for success in your classes. Most of your courses will require that you earn a grade of C or higher for them to apply toward your major. This may be different from your high school experience, where a grade of D is often considered passing. 

It is important to be aware of the specific grading policies for both your college and your major. Ultimately, if your grades are not meeting the required academic standards, your graduation plans will be negatively impacted. If you are struggling in a class, seek help from a tutor, faculty member or academic adviser, and develop strategies to set you on the path to success. 

Extra-credit opportunities are less frequent

Extra-credit opportunities in high school are abundant. In college, on the other hand, few extra-credit opportunities will be afforded, which ensures consistency and fairness in grading. If you have become accustomed to second chances while in high school, try your best to break this habit.

The grades you receive in college are intended to directly reflect your success and mastery of a particular course or subject. Navigating the differences between high school and college grading policies and procedures can be challenging at first, but it is still possible to earn high marks in your college courses through hard work and careful time management. If you have questions about your grade in a class or on a particular assignment, you should speak with your instructor immediately for clarification. His or her guidance can help you make better sense of college grading now and in the future.