Getting Owned by the Curve
We’ve all been there—getting our grade back for an exam we studied so hard for—but because of the infamous Berkeley curve, our expectations for success were not met. At times, it can feel as though tests at Berkeley are meant to make us stumble and fall. Due to the abilities of the students here at Berkeley, professors at times have no choice but to make tests harder than necessary in order to weed out less prepared students and keep the curve alive. That’s Berkeley life, survival of the fittest. We’re all thrown into the jungle with the hopes of surviving these extremely tough classes by the end of our time here. But what are you to do if the curve does own you? Don’t lose faith, here are some tips to salvage your grade.
Bring up any discrepancies you find with your professor immediately after you review your test. It was not uncommon in my Chem 1A class at Berkeley for the whole class to be awarded 9 or 12 bonus points due to questions that were not worded clearly or fairly, or even material that we were not supposed to know for the exam that students brought up. Seriously, it’s worth a try to make an appointment with your professor and go over questions you feel you deserve credit for if you can back yourself up with evidence and explain your train of thought for why you chose a certain answer.
Check adding errors by graders. This is a biggie. After receiving a test I always whip out my handy calculator and add up the points that I received for each page to make sure that my final grade is correct. A few times I should have received a higher score than what was recorded due to adding errors. A rules of thumb: don’t blindly accept your test score and hide it away, because it may not be your true grade!
Check your erased marks on your scantrons. It’s very simple, but it may help you out. Sometimes the machine might accidentally mark you off because you didn’t erase an answer fully. This extra question or two may pay off big time when final grades come around. Again, you have nothing to lose by making an appointment with your professor and explaining what happened. You never know what may happen.
These are just some tips to salvage your grade now that many tests are coming back from midterm season and many people are finding themselves getting owned by the curve. Never forget that there’s usually only a window of one week to bring up any concerns you have about your test grade, so turn that frown upside down and talk to your professor to contest your test score or bring up any problems.
Article by Matthew Aber
Feature Image Source: The New York Times