Grading on a Curve Definition and Meaning | Top Hat (2024)

What is

Grading on a curve is a practice used by teachers to determine student grades for assignments and/or exams, where grades are adjusted to reflect the professor’s desired distribution of scores (also known as normal distribution). Grading on a curve can be done in a variety of ways, though typically, a teacher examines the raw grades that all his or her students received from an assignment or exam and adjusts all the grades relative to each other.

Grading on a curve refers to the process of adjusting student grades in order to ensure that a test or assignment has the proper distribution throughout the class (for example, only 20% of students receive As, 30% receive Bs, and so on), as well as a desired total average (for example, a C grade average for a given test). Also called marking on a curve or bell curving, this method safeguards grading standards across different classes. The curve refers to a bell curve, the shape of a graph that all students scores should resemble when plotted after adjustment.

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Grading on a Curve Definition and Meaning | Top Hat (2024)


What does grading on a curve mean? ›

If a professor notices that the average score was significantly lower — for example, the average grade failed to pass — they can grade on a curve. That means modifying each student's grade to raise the average. In rarer cases, professors might adjust the curve down to lower the average.

What is grading this exam on a curve? ›

In its most general sense, it means grades are adjusted so the best performers get the highest possible grade and the worse performers get the lowest grade the teacher is giving. Some use a bell curve model (hence the name), some just shift the numbers up or down. I didn't do well on an exam.

What is otherwise known as the grading on the curve? ›

Bell curve grading, also known as grading on a curve, is a system that uses a bell curve to evaluate students' performance. Within this system, each individual's grade is relative to the performance of the rest of the class.

Why do teachers grade on a curve? ›

Ideally, a test should not be too hard nor too easy. Grading on a curve with a standard deviation gives instructors an at-a-glance look at whether the test was too hard, too easy or just right. Curving grades also allows the instructor to have the same distribution of grades in every class.

Is grading on a curve good? ›

Grading on a curve prevents exceptionally difficult tests from unfairly penalizing all students. Accurate Reflection of Class Performance: Curve grading offers a more accurate portrayal of a class's overall performance.

Is grading on a curve allowed? ›

While it's not required for all teachers to practice curving on a grade, plenty of teachers in all types of formal education do this when they think it's necessary to help more students pass.

What are the disadvantages of grading on a curve? ›

When courses are graded on a curve there is less interaction between students, hence less learning. We have measured that there is also generally overall lower motivation.

How does grading work? ›

A+, A, A- indicates excellent performance. B+, B, B- indicates good performance. C+, C, C- indicates satisfactory performance. D+, D, D- indicates less than satisfactory performance.

What is the difference between scaling and curving grades? ›

A curve discourages cooperation. At the end of the term, we simply add up the points that have been earned. Using a scale, your grade is completely independent of the rest of the class. Using a curve, your grade depends completely on the rest of the class.

Is grading on a curve also called norm referenced grading? ›

Norm-referenced measurement is ordinarily called grading on the 'curve' because a normal distribution of scores, or bell curve, results despite the range of exam scores (see Figure 1).

What does curve mean in slang? ›

To curve someone is “to reject” them, that is, veer away from their romantic interests and advances in an indirect, non-confrontational way.

Which measurement method is similar to grading on a curve? ›

Answer and Explanation: The forced distribution method refers to the techniques measuring the performance of employees. It is the bell curve rating where an organization evaluates the employees based on their performance and work.

Should I ask my teacher to curve my grade? ›

Every school has different rules on score review. If there are very strict requirements at your school, then professors may deny your request to round your grade. Make sure you are familiar with the procedure for score disputes. You can surely ask for a bump if you believe there is any mistake.

How do I convince my teacher to curve my grade? ›

Make your case.

Calmly and professionally say what you believe is wrong with your grade. Present other tests and assignments that demonstrate what you're capable of, and suggest the solution you think is reasonable. Be convincing and confident, but don't assume to know more or better than your teacher.

How do you ask a teacher to curve a grade? ›

Ask nicely, if they could look at some of your grades again. State your case that you felt you did a little better in the course than your grade says. Don't expect an entire grade increase. You may see going from a B- to a B, or something similar.

Why do law schools grade on a curve? ›

To accommodate a system where grades carry so much weight, most law schools impose a strict grading curve – one that allows for only a certain number of A's and, yes, F's.

What is a 10 point curve? ›

High grade to 100%

Then the student with raw score 90%, gets a 10-point curve, but a student with a raw score of 60% gets a 7-point curve. A modification of this method is to compute the percentage of some other score (presumably );

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