How to estimate your final course grade

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Wondering what your current course grade is?
What you could get in the course if you got grade x on the final exam, etc.?
First, check the syllabus to find out the grading system. Then try this online tool:
Online grade calculator.
Or read the notes below, which explain the process.

Note: I have no connection with the online grade calculator tool. There are similar ones available on the Internet. You might find another one that you like better. (Try searching for "calculate grade".)

It's easy to calculate what your grade would be depending on how you do on the assignments that are coming up. It's good to figure out how to do this anyway; you can use a similar procedure in nearly any class. The following instructions work if all grades are reported to you on a standard 100-point scale that ranges from 50 to 100:

First, make sure you have the syllabus for the course, and make sure that you know what all of your grades so are so far.

Second, take all of your scores on assignments so far and multiply them by the percentages (as decimals: 5% = .05, 20% = .2, etc.) listed in the syllabus, and add up the results. (Anything with an F or not turned in usually counts as a 50.)

Then estimate scores you think you might get on the remaining assignments (exam, paper, exercise, whatever), multiply those estimated scores by the percentages in the syllabus, and add these numbers to the first total. If you did the calculation correctly, the resulting number, which should be between 50 and 100, is the overall score you would get in the course if you do get those estimated scores on the remaining work. You can experiment with different estimated scores to see what would happen with different grades on the work yet to be turned in.

Tip 1: Make sure that you converted all percentages to decimals correctly. Don't leave out any grades you've gotten.

Tip 2:The decimals that you use in your calculation should all add up to 1 (i.e. 100%). If they don't, you've made a mistake somewhere.


Suppose that so far you've received:

You're wondering what will happen if you get a B on the final exam, which is worth 20%, and is the only remaining assignment.

Notice that you're going to multiply by:

First add up the scores and percentages you already know:
(86 * .35) + (72 * .20) + (92 * .20) + (50 * .05) = 65.40
Don't panic! 65 is not your course grade. We're not done.

[ Tip: To convert this number into your grade so far, divide it by the sum of those percentages:
65.40/(.35 + .20 + .20 + .05) = 81.75, which is your grade so far.]

Now let's see what will happen if you get an 85 on the final exam:
65.40 + (85 * .2) = 82.40,
which is the final score you would get if you got an 85 on the final exam.

"Hmm, 82.40 is pretty close to a C," you think. What happens if I only get an 80 on the final exam? Let's see:
65.40 + (80 * .2) = 81.40
OK! That's still a B in the course.

Then you think, "I wonder if it's possible for me to get an A in this course. I think I could do that if I worked hard."  Well, let's see. Suppose you will get a 100 on the final exam--why not?
65.40 + (100 * .2) = 85.40
Nope! Still a B. Maybe it could have been an A if you'd done better earlier in the course, but there's nothing to do about that now. (On the other hand, getting a 100 on the final probably means that you really learned the material--so it might be worth trying for that, anyway.)

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(The author of this page is Marshall Abrams, and the same statements apply to any
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