Liveblogging Grading: Essays (a brief note on sources) and Curves

I can tell the difference, most of the time, between an essay which directly tackles the primary sources and essays which use secondary sources Instead of looking at the originals. Nothing wrong with doing a little background reading — that’s what the textbook is for, after all — but the assignment doesn’t call for it, particularly. More importantly, while you may have written a clever and insightful essay based on these (and other) sources, if you don’t specifically address the primary source readings, you haven’t answered the question, which is reflected in your grade.


The good news is that the grades for the essays got heavily curved: because there were more than 50 multiple choice questions, the high score there was 51.33; so on a 100-point scale, with multiple choice as 50%, there was little grade benefit from using the top score (I used 50). On the essays, the highest letter grade evaluation I gave was B+, so I used that as the 50 point mark, as follows

Grade points distribution
B+ 50
B 48.5 15%
B- 47
C+ 45
C 43.5 37.5%
C- 42
D+ 40
D 38.5 37.5%
D- 37
F 35 10%

This is, obviously, a substantial bonus. As a result, the median and average test scores in the end were in the C+ range for people who took the test.

Speaking of grade adjustments, remember that the “Overall Course Grade” on your tests is also normed by the top grade in class.