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How to Get a Grade Changed Gracefully

Jul 11, 2011

Some students aren't willing to accept a grade they feel isn't as high as it should be, so they try to get their professor to change that grade. While the results of doing this can be positive, students need to follow the proper etiquette.

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Tips to Change a Grade

Did you end up with a B- in English composition, but you're sure you should have gotten a B+? Some students might be annoyed by the B-, but ultimately decide to accept it. However, students who feel strongly that they earned the higher grade might want to ask the professor for a grade change. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some tips that can help you get the change you want.

First Steps

Before you begin the process of requesting a grade change, do your research! Check your school's academic policies and procedures to confirm that a grade change is permissible. Your school might have a deadline on grade changes, so before you plan a big conversation with the teacher, confirm it is a possibility.

When asking a teacher for a grade change, it's best to do so in person. E-mails are too easily misinterpreted and can quickly degenerate into an unpleasant affair. Make an appointment with your professor during office hours and let him or her know what you want to talk about ahead of time.

Be Prepared

Do you have a good rationale for your request? It can be difficult to make a solid argument if you haven't thought it through. Before meeting with your professor, write down the main points you want to get across. Know what you want to say ahead of time and have facts to back up your argument. It's important not to get so bogged down on what you want to say that you can't discuss other issues your professor might bring up. Be flexible enough to handle unexpected factors with poise.

Bring Solid Proof

Be able to show why the grade warrants a change. Mention your attendance, class participation and, of course, your grades on individual tests and assignments. You could bring a copy of the syllabus that shows the grading breakdown. If it says that class attendance will be a factor and you never missed a class, be sure to mention this. Does the syllabus say that a final project will have a large impact on your final grade? If you got a very high grade on that project, remind your professor of the quality of your work. Ultimately, you want to show your teacher you know the information you learned in class - you aren't just asking for a handout.

Be Respectful

Be calm, cool and collected when you make your case. If the conversation isn't going the way you want, don't speak out of anger or frustration. Your professor might not be willing to hear what you have to say if you put him or her on the defensive. Also keep in mind you might have this teacher for another class at some point, so maintain a positive tone and, if you have to, accept no for an answer.

Engage in the Conversation

As you're making your case, make sure you're engaging in a two-way conversation. Listen to your professor's point of view and don't interrupt. By participating in the conversation fully, you will portray a professional attitude that might help your teacher make a decision in your favor.

Accept the Outcome

Be prepared to accept that your professor might deny your request. If this happens, be gracious and thank your professor for meeting with you. Remember to keep things in perspective - this is just one class out of many, and there will be more opportunities to raise your GPA. Going forward, stay on top of your grades so you don't find yourself in a similar situation.

Find out how grade inflation is impacting college students.

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