Monday, May 7, 2012

What Grade Do I Need on the Final Exam?

What grade do I need on the final exam?

A frequent question asked by many students is "What grade do I need on the final exam to get a B, C, (or other grade desired)?" This question involves a little math that any student can apply successfully with a little information.

Determine the Grading Scale

First, determine the grading scale for the class. This information is typically found in the course syllabus. Find the range of scores for earning an A, B, etc. Some classes are set up in which students either successfully complete the course or not, so if this is the type of class, look at the minimum score for successful completion. Once you have found this information, write the lowest number in the range for the grade for which you are looking.

In case you are unsure what a grading scale looks like, here's an example of a 7-point grading scale:


Letter Grade
Range of Scores
A
93-100
B
86-92
C
79-85
D
72-78
F
0-71

In the above example, minimum scores for a desired grade include:
  • If you want to achieve a grade of C, your final average must be at least 79.
  • If you want to achieve a grade of B, your final average must be at least 86.
  • If you want to achieve a grade of A, your final average must be at least 93.
Determine the Weighting of Grades

Next, determine whether or not scores are weighted differently for the various sections in the class. This information is also typically found in the course syllabus. Sometimes the final exam may be worth 50% or more of the final grade for the class, so this is very important information to consider!

In case you are unsure what weighting of grades looks like, here is an example:


Class Assignments
Percentage of Weight
Tests
60%
Quizzes
20%
Group Project
10%
Final Exam
10%
  
Classes Without Weighted Scores (Equal Weighting)

Some classes may offer grading in which all scores count equally. These are the easiest ones for determining your minimum final exam score to achieve a certain overall grade in the class; however, most classes do have weighted scores and the below equation will not work for those classes – see the next section for the equation with weighted scores.

Directions for determining a minimum final exam score without weighted grades:
  1. Multiply the minimum score for your desired grade by the number of scores plus 1.
  2. Add all grades that you have achieved up until the final exam.
  3. Subtract the second number from the first number.
Let's do an example. Let's say you want to achieve a letter grade of B in a class without weighted scores (equal weighting of all grades). Let's say that this instructor is using a 7-point grading scale and that the minimum grade you need for the class is an 86 and here are all the grades you have for the class before the final exam:
  • 88
  • 78
  • 96
  • 70
  • 65
  • 78
  • 92
  • 94
  • 99
In the above example, I would do the following:
  1. 86 X 10 = 860 (there are nine grades listed, so I added one to 9 to get 10 and then multiplied by the minimum grade for a B, which is 86)
  2. Add the above nine grades = 760
  3. 860 - 760 = 100
So, in the above example, I would need to score 100 on my final exam in order to achieve a letter grade of B in the class, assuming that no grades were dropped and no extra credit was offered to be added to the final grade.

In case you want to see how this would look in an algebraic equation, here is the above example:

How to Determine Minimum Score for Final Exam to Get a Grade in Class

Classes With Weighted Scores

Most classes are set up with weighted scores, so this will require a few extra steps in your math equation.

Directions for determining a minimum final exam score with weighted grades:
  1. Determine the average of each set of scores within the weighted sections (disregard the final exam section because this would be zero if you have not taken the exam).
  2. Multiply each average by the percentage in decimal form (multiply by 0.5 for 50%, multiply by 0.4 for 40%, multiply by 0.2 for 20%, etc.)
  3. Add these totals together.
  4. Subtract this total from the minimum score for your desired final grade.
  5. Divide that number by the percentage weight for the final exam in decimal form.
Let's do an example. We'll use the weighting in the chart above in which tests are worth 60%, quizzes are worth 20%, group project is worth 10%, and the final exam is worth 10%. Determine which grades you have achieved in each section and find the average score for each section. If you need a refresher on how to do this, I have detailed instructions in How to Calculate Your Grade in a Class. This article also gives directions for determining your highest possible and lowest possible scores in a given class.

Let's say you determine the following averages in the chart. You would then then multiply by the percentages in decimal form and finally add all of those average scores together.


Sections
Average
Multiply by
Totals
Tests
82
0.6
49.2
Quizzes
95
0.2
19
Group Project
88
0.1
8.8
Added Totals


77

In this example, if you wish to achieve a grade of B on the above 7-point scale, then you would subtract the above added total of 77 from 86, which would give you a result of 9.

In this example, the final exam is worth 10% of the grade, so you would then divide 9 by 0.1, which equals 90. Therefore, in this example, you would need to achieve a score of 90 on the final exam in order to earn a final grade of B in the class.

If you would like to see how this would look in an algebraic equation, here is the above example:

How to Figure Out Score for Final Grade to Pass a Class
Find additional resources for students, including tips, flash cards, and practice tests at the Student Survive 2 Thrive site map and I wish you the best with your final exam!

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