Grading Policies


What Letter Grades Say About Your Essays

For some papers, students will receive specific grading rubrics. If, however, there is no specific rubric attached to a formal writing assignment, the descriptive rubric below serves an explanation of the grade you receive on a paper:

A (90-99): Work of superior quality. Few mechanical errors. Solid argumentative and rhetorical skills.

B (80-89): Work that is quite good. Sometimes, beautifully written and well argued papers that are simply uninteresting.

C (70-79) : "Average work." Most often papers in this category are overly simplistic. The writer fails to prove his or her argument and support the assertions made in the essay. Specific details are avoided in favor of broad generalizations. Often a paper will be mechanically correct, but fails to exhibit the analytical skill necessary for college level work or is structured like a high school paper. Or a paper may be brilliant, but the writer is mechanically sloppy. Papers with multiple mechanical errors (grammar, punctuation, usage) will never receive higher than a "C."

D (65-69) : Work that shows some effort, originality or potential, but is not of sufficient quality for college-level courses. Most often this grade is received for good papers which do not follow the assignment or thoughtful papers which are riddled with mechanical errors.

F (0-64) : Insufficient quality for college-level work. Sometimes, a paper receives an "F" for work that does not follow the assignment, is unreadable due to mechanical errors, or is plagiarized. But most often, students receive "F"'s because they simply fail to turn in the paper.

Humanities 101 students will find a grading rubric for their papers here.

Grading Scale

The grading scale below is used to determine final grades for all of my classes. Students may request their current course average by coming by my office; such an average, however, will not include work turned in but not yet graded. It will also not include any absence/tardiness penalties. I will not send any grades over e-mail, as this is not a secure method of communication.

A: 93-100
A-: 90-92
B+: 87-89
B: 83-86
B-: 80-82
C+: 77-79
C: 73-76
C-: 70-72
D: 65-69
F: below 65
Transforming Letter Grades into Numbers

All grades for my courses are calculated using an electronic gradebook. The following scale shows how letter grades awarded on papers and other assignments are translated into numerical values on a scale of 0-100.

A = at least 95, sometimes higher
A- = 92
B+ = 89
B = 86
B- = 82
C+ = 79
C = 76
C- = 72
D = 65
F = between 0 and 60, depending on my evaluation of the work.

How Much Things Count

On the first page of your syllabus is a grade breakdown, showing how much various assignments (papers, exams, quizzes) count toward your final grade.

Late Assignments

If you are unable to turn in an assignment on time because of a documented illness or family tragedy, you will not be penalized for turning in work late, provided you present your written excuse within one week of returning to class. If you must turn in work late for other reasons, you be subject to the following penalties:

  • 1/3 of a letter grade will be deducted from the final grade on a formal paper for each day (each weekday, not class day) that it is turned in late. The first late day begins when class starts on the due date, unless another time is designated. Thus, a student in a 10:30am class who brings his paper in at 10:50am will lose 1/3 letter grade.
  • 2 points will be deducted for each day that a short response or exercise is late
  • Quizzes may not be made up at all unless an absence is officially excused

Rounding or Dropping Grades

As a general policy, I do not drop the lowest quiz grade in my class or round up final grades. If you look at the above scales, however, you will note that grades are already "bumped" by receiving the highest possible numerical number in the scale. This actually gives you a greater advantage than dropping a simple quiz grade.

Please do let me know, however, if a quiz question is actually on something you haven't read yet; you will not be penalized if I get confused.

Extra Credit

I sometimes offer classes opportunities for extra credit. These assignments are meant to deepen your appreciation for a subject. Extra credit is always class-wide; I do not give private assignments to individual students, as that would be unfair. To calculate extra credit, add it to the "quiz" or "other" category of your total grades.

How Does Attendance Count?

Does Class Participation Count?

Not usually, but you might double-check the grading breakdown on your syllabus to be sure. The reason I don't count class participation is that I don't trust myself not to reward students I like and punish those I don't. And talking a lot in a class is not always productive; it depends upon the nature of the participation.


Natalie Grinnell
Wofford College
429 North Church Street
Spartanburg, SC 29303


Last update: February 5, 2012