The Right Way to Discuss Grades

The Right Way to Discuss Grades

Even for the best students, poor grades on tests or in courses are bound to happen. Sometimes, you may think your teacher has been unfair. But before you approach your teacher with this attitude, take some time to evaluate what you’ve actually done in the class.

As difficult as this may be, it’s crucial to approach this question objectively. Here are seven steps for discussing bad grades skillfully:

    1. Wait a little bit before you reach out to the teacher. Give yourself 2-3 days after receiving the grade. You’ll be calmer and better able to analyze your teacher’s comments. After you thoroughly check your work, you might realize that the grade was fair.
    2. Carefully read all of your teacher’s corrections and comments. Try to understand the mistakes from your teacher’s point of view. Don’t just flip to the last page of the test. Read through ALL of the comments.
    3. If you still think the grade isn’t fair, take another step back. Think about the grading rubric your teacher used. Does your teacher offer partial credit? Was there a specific type of answer they were looking for? Even if your work is strong, it might not hold up to the specific requirements your teacher laid out.
    4. Schedule a time to talk to your teacher. Do not just show up before class or hang around after class without giving your teacher warning that you want to discuss the grade. Email them or approach them after class to ask about if they are willing to discuss the grade at a time that works for them.
    5. Make a copy of the assignment and annotate it with your questions and counterpoints. Don’t fight every single comment. Only argue with what you believe is a major error on the teacher’s part.
    6. Go to the meeting with a good attitude. Be respectful and calm. This meeting is a discussion, a conversation, not a negotiation or a trial.
    7. Accept whatever your teacher’s final decision is. At the end of this meeting, accept whatever happens. Whether your teacher stands their ground or changes your grade, thank them for taking the time to speak with you. You might ask the teacher for the option to redo the assignment, but judge whether this feels appropriate.

After you have an open, honest talk with your teacher, you’ll have a better idea of what this teacher expects of you. Whether your grade gets changed or not, remember that this is a valuable learning experience. If you go about it with maturity, your teacher will most likely respect you for it.

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Picture of Jay B.

Jay B.

Jay Bacrania is the CEO of Signet Education. As a high schooler, Jay won awards for chemistry at the state level in his home state of Florida, and at Harvard, he initially studied physics. After graduating, Jay spent two years studying jazz trumpet at the Berklee College of Music.

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