How To Weigh Components of Student Grades

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Making Pass-Fail Decisions

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Grading
  • 1:04 Components
  • 3:25 Calculations
  • 7:21 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Grading a test or worksheet is pretty straightforward, but it gets complicated when trying to figure out students' overall grades. In this lesson, we'll look at how to figure out overall grades, including common components and steps to calculate.


Tyler is a teacher. He needs to submit student grades for report cards, but isn't sure how to do that. When he's asked to grade a test or a paper, he's fine. But how does he take all of the tests, papers, and assignments into consideration and come up with a total grade?

Grading involves evaluating student work. There are two types of grades that teachers have to keep track of. The first type is grades for individual assignments, like grading a test or paper or other piece of work. The second type, grades for how students are doing in the class overall, is sometimes harder to calculate. What makes it difficult is that there's a lot that goes into overall grades. As Tyler has seen, with all the different assignments involved, this can get very complicated.

To figure out a student's overall grade, Tyler needs to figure out components that make up the overall grade and then calculate the grade itself. To help him do this, let's look closer at both of these elements.


As we've seen, Tyler's having trouble figuring out how to calculate his students' overall grades for his class. There seems like there's a lot involved in the grades! The first thing Tyler needs to do is to figure out the components that will go into his grading calculation.

There are lots of different possibilities, but there are generally four large categories that teachers use:

1. Classwork and quizzes.

Classwork is, as the name implies, work that is done in class. For example, if Tyler gives his students a worksheet to fill out while they are in his class, that worksheet goes into their classwork grade. This category can also include quizzes, which are mini-tests given on information learned over a day or two.

2. Homework.

Like classwork, homework is aptly named because it is work that is done at home, or outside class time. Homework should be something that is given on one day and then collected a day or two later. For example, if on Tyler assigns students a reading passage and questions on Monday and then collects their answers on Tuesday or Wednesday, it's homework.

3. Tests, projects, & papers.

These are assignments that cover a longer period of time than homework or classwork. For example, after teaching a unit on World War I, Tyler might give his students a test. Alternatively, he might ask them to do a big project or write a paper.

To determine if an assignment should be classwork or homework, or if it should be a test, project, or paper, Tyler should think about how much information the assignment covers. If it's about one day or one week of material covered in class, then it's probably going to be classwork or homework. On the other hand, if it covers a longer time period, like a couple of weeks or a month, it's probably a test, project, or paper.

4. Participation.

Though it's not completely necessary, many teachers also count a student's participation in their overall grade. For example, if a student sits silently in class and ignores Tyler, doesn't ever ask or answer questions, and always has his headphones in, he's not participating in class. On the other hand, if a student is very attentive and asks lots of questions, she's doing a good job with participation.


All right, Tyler understands the different categories of assignments that he might want to use in calculating his students' grades, but he's still not sure exactly how to calculate the grades. There are several steps that Tyler can take to figure out what each student makes in his class.

They are:

1. Figure out what weight each component has.

Usually, tests, projects, and papers are weighed heavier than classwork and homework, which are weighed heavier than participation, but each teacher needs to figure out the exact weight of each component. All weights should equal 100%.

For example, Tyler might want to make classwork and quizzes worth 20% each, and make homework worth 25%. He could then make tests, projects, and papers worth 40%, and participation worth 15%. Together, all of these add up to 100%.

2. Calculate an average for each component.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account