Grading Scales Should Be Standardized

At this point in the semester, many Wake Forest students are starting to feel the stress of exams and final grades. In an environment as academically oriented and motivated at Wake Forest, many Demon Deacons place a lot of importance on high grades.

However, as university regulations currently stand, exactly how students’ numeric grades are translated into letter grades is largely up to the professor, and such decisions can vary widely. For example, one member of the Editorial Board has taken classes within the same department in which the minimum overall grade required to earn an A has ranged from 92.5% to 95%. Another member of the Editorial Board has taken a class wherein students only earned an A if they scored 97% or above.

The staff of the Old Gold & Black feels that such disparities between grading scales should be eliminated and that grading scales should be standardized, at least by department. There may be a significant difference in quality between class performance that earns a 92.5% and that which earns a 94.99% — but by the grading standards of some real-life Wake Forest classes, the former could earn an A while the latter could earn an A-. The Editorial Board recognizes that standardizing grading may be impractical across the entire university due to the divergent nature of many different classes, but professors within departments should operate according to the same procedures.

In addition, grade standardization could help potential employers and graduate school admissions committees — who must heavily rely upon grades to see a snapshot of a student’s academic career — to better understand what the letters on a student’s transcript actually mean. Indeed, employers and graduate schools would not have reason to know that a student earned a lower or higher grade due in part to a particular professor’s grading standards, which could influence students’ future prospects.

With the current inconsistency in grading scale, no one can decipher with certainty what a particular letter grade actually represents.