What to do if you Feel your Test Grade is Unfair

Tests are the backbone of education. When used correctly, they allow an instructor to form a reasonable idea of the knowledge or skill of a student in a relatively short amount of time. Tests are used in almost every aspect in education, from efficiency evaluations in grade school to midterm exams in high school to admittance exams for college and beyond. The farther into your educative career, the more weight a test generally has, and when a bad score hits it can be devastating to your grade. When this happens, it’s natural to want to change it, improve it. When you think such a grade is unfair, it’s even more important to do something about it.

The first thing to do is find out if the test was graded on a curve. Curves are put into place to balance out the scores and can drastically affect your grade drastically – for better or for worse. Basically, your final grade depends not on the percentage of how many answers you got right, but on how well you did against everyone else in your class. Using this method, you could have gotten a perfectly good score to start out with, only to have it plummet when the curve was put into effect. If this is the case, unfortunately, there is usually very little you can do for your grade. Go to your teacher or professor and make sure your opinion is known, and next time, study a little harder. Remember, even as a curve can toss your grade down into the depths, so can it help it up into the heights of glory.

Thankfully, whenever a curve is not implanted, the way to justice is a lot easier. Before you go charging off shouting “Foul!”, however, remember the logic behind tests. They exist for a reason: to test how much you know. If you didn’t pay attention in class, study hard, or just flat out didn’t do well, then there’s absolutely nothing you can do except try harder the next time. Page through the test, making sure to examine each wrong question thoroughly. Did you make a simple mistake in calculation? Mix up a few terms? Fail to address all the components of a prompt? These errors may be small, but they can add up at an alarming rate. However, if after reviewing all the questions, you still feel that the test was unfair, steps can be taken to change it.

First, seek out your classmates. They’ve gone through the same exact class as you, taken notes from the same lecture, studied from the same books. This is a fairly easy way to judge whether the test was appropriate or not; if most of your classmates (and make sure some of them are the smart ones!) are happy with their scores, then it probably means you just didn’t perform up to standards. Talk with them to see what extra lengths they might have taken so that you can do better in the future. However, if you find a general dissatisfaction, you will not only have proof but strength of numbers to back you up for the real trial: talking to the teacher.

Having a discussion with a teacher is vital because they are the ones who implemented the examination in the first place. Before you go, however, make sure to calm down and organize your resources. You’ll get nowhere if you are rude and scornful; in this instance, the teacher can and will refuse to hear you out. Remember that your goal is not to take revenge, but to fix a grade. Also, if you don’t have any proof to back up your theory, you’ll find it extremely hard to convince the teacher to change your grade or let you do a retake. Approach them in a respectful, well-mannered attitude and lay out your argument clearly and concisely, and they have good reason to listen to what you have to say. Even if they don’t agree, they can explain what you did wrong and therefore how to do better. However, if you are still dissatisfied, one final step can be taken.

In the vast majority of cases, teachers are not the highest authority at a school and consequently have certain people to answer to. Such people are usually very busy and may even require an appointment; either way, you need to make sure you’re not going to waste their time. Make absolutely sure that your complaint is valid before trying. The same rules apply as when approaching a teacher: be polite, be clear. In the end, you may just get what you want.