Grade Standards and Policies

This page has been set up to explain to you the kinds of standards I use when I evaluate your work. While there is always a bit of subjectivity in grading, most of the process is plain and fairly obvious.

Please note that grades are achieved through the accumulation of points; these translate into final grades according to this spread:

The Incomplete

I give incomplete grades when a student who has been doing passing work in the class encounters a sudden difficulty in completing the course. This could be an injury from an accident, a severe illness, or a personal or family matter that requires the student's immediate and full attention. This request must be backed up by written support from your doctor or in another way I find acceptable.

Students who have not been doing passing work in the class are not eligible for an incomplete.

Grade Descriptions

  • The grade of A is reserved for the most outstanding level of work. A students display a near-complete mastery of the course material, excellent attendence, on-time completion of the course assignments, and appropriate participation in class. A students move beyond rote memorization of the material and are able to respond in a manner indicating that their mastery of the subject is such that they are able to approach it in the spirit of critical inquiry and are ready for work at a more advanced level.
  • The first thing you need to know about the grade of B is that I think that a B is a good grade. I am not interested in hearing complaints about how awful it is going to be for your medical school application to have a B on your transcript. That said, what chiefly differentiates a B from an A is the lack of true mastery of the material. While the student displays some fluency with the course material there is still a lack of ease with the course subject. You can also get a B by excessive absences, or late work, or complete lack of class participation, even if other aspects of your work are very good to excellent.
  • The grade of C is for those whose work is average. There are problems with understanding the material to a greater extent than with a B grade --the student depends almost entirely on the skimpy benefits of rote memorization, does not understand the concept of critical thinkingis and so inattentive to studying the course material that there is little sense of true comprehension.
  • The D grade usually seems to go to those students whose performance is poor due to excessive absences. I tell you (again) that good attendence is key to doing well in all your classes. D students have usually also neglected to complete at least one significant assignment. Note that if you get a D on the midterm it seems inevitable that your final grade for the course will be that or lower.
  • The E should really never be given to anyone because you can withdraw from the class until very late in the semester. My understanding is that some students prefer the E grade to a W because it may be less damaging to their financial aid standing. Whether that is true or not, the grade stays on your transcript unless you re-take the class, and if you don't, you really won't go to medical school. By the way, you will also get an E if you cheat or plagiarize any written assignment, and your conduct will be reported to the Student Conduct Committee.

How to get a good grade in this class? Attend faithfully, take notes, ask relevant questions ("What chapter are we on?" does not count as a relevant question), read the book (helped by buying the book), do all of the assignments, take all of the quizzes and exams. I cannot guarantee you will get an A, but you should end up with at least a nice B!

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