Grade Projections


CASE 1: Hermione

Hermione is your typical overachiever: she’s always been good at school, she likes challenges, she likes sharing her views with the world, but because of all that, some people find her a bit hard to work with. It’s obvious she’ll ace all the basic common stuff and she decides early on she’ll stick with what she knows.

Choice for optional components and weights: Conventional papers (first paper 10%, second paper 30%) and blogging (20%)

Attendance: A

Readings: A

Participation: A

Papers: B+, A; first paper revised to A-

Blogging: A

So Hermione easily aces all the basic stuff: participating in section, attending lectures (“What? You consider skipping lectures?”), and doing the readings. Although she has always done well, she is shocked by the grade on her first paper. (“HFS, Professor Dumbledore! I’ve always been told I write well.” “Yes, Hermione, but you have to pay attention to what we tell you.”) She decides to stick with it, and she writes the second paper, which allows her to revise her first one, which does improve significantly for the grade to be raised.

So here’s Hermione’s grade breakdown before revising her first paper:

And here it is after she revises paper 1:

Notice that if Hermione had done the math, she would have gotten an A even without revising her first paper. But that’s just the way it is with overachieving nerds: it’s not about the grade, but about their sense of accomplishment. And we heartily endorse that view.

CASE 2: Draco

Draco is the type of student all instructors hate: smart enough (though not as smart as he thinks), but with a major interest in doing well just for the grade. He is also good at manipulating his friends to do things for him. And he has major interests outside school.

Choice for optional components and weights: Blogging (20%), group project (40%).

Attendance: C

Readings: C

Participation: B-

Blogging: B-

Group project: B+

Draco thinks he’s way above attending lectures or doing the readings more than occasionally, and when he goes to section, he talks enough to be registered, but he also is busy rushing the Slytherin fraternity, so he doesn’t always do that. He gets obsessed with holding forth on the blog about all the mudbloods, and although his views are kind of icky, he writes well. The problem is that because he doesn’t keep up with the readings, he doesn’t remain eligible to get his posts accepted on the blog. His group project starts out promisingly, but because he is a lazy control freak, his peers all complain about him, despite their having produced a decent project, and his grade goes down while his group members’ grade is an A- for the project.

Draco also uses his power-ups to make up for missed sections, so he can’t use them to boost his grade.

Now we have:

We don’t feel bad for Draco: he got what he deserved. And despite his arrogance, there might be some hope for him. Of course, knowing his kind, he will likely issue a grade grievance.

CASE 3: Luna

Luna is a very strong student, but she has trouble working up the confidence to speak up in a room full of her peers.  She doesn’t see the value of discussion sections when she could just as easily spend the time reading about Nargles.  She would prefer to sit in the back of the class, absorb the necessary information and rely on her written work to make the grade.

Choice for optional components and weights: Conventional papers (first paper 45%) and blogging (15%)

Attendance: A

Readings: A-

Participation: C

Papers: A

Blogging: A-

Despite the fact that Luna displayed uncanny mastery over the prompt for the first conventional paper and her summer internship at the Quibbler set her up to be a fantastic contributor to the blog, she approached discussion section with a perpetually glazed and distant look.  She was always there, but barely said a peep after the icebreaker on the first day of class.

An A-student in every other category, Luna finds herself with a 3.65 and a B+ due to her participation grade.

CASE 4: Ron

Ron is an average student who needs this class as a prerequisite.  He would much rather spend the early part of the semester pursuing the many extracurricular opportunities available to him (He recently picked up a Michigan Quidditch t-shirt).  He’s always been able to catch up in time for midterms and finals in his courses, so he feels fine about skipping things at first.

Choice for optional components and weights: Conventional papers (second paper 20%), group project (40%)

Attendance: B

Readings: B-

Participation: C+ 

Papers: B+

Group project: B+

Ron’s usual method of catch-up didn’t work quite as well as he had planned.  He still managed to work hard enough in the second half to get good grades on both of his optional components, but he was too far behind on the common components to pull up those grades.  He swore he would make it to all the discussion sections after fall break, but sometimes it can be so hard to wake up for that 2 pm section on Monday!

The slow start leaves Ron with a 2.94, a B- and a disapproving glare from Hermione.

CASES 5 and 6: George and Fred

George and Fred are two smart students, but they have a tendency try to be too clever for their own good.  Excited by the opportunity to weigh their scores on the optional components, they both decide to weigh one assignment at 60% in order to minimize how much work they have to do.

Choice for optional components and weights: both choose group project (60%), blogging (0%)

Attendance: A-            Attendance: A-

Readings: AReadings: A

Participation: A- Participation: A-

Blogging: C+Blogging: A-

Group project: A-Group project: C+

Their competitive sides get the best of them, so they find two different groups for the group projects.  The grade gamble pays off beautifully for George when his political theory joke shop demonstrates both creativity and command over the material.  He does minimal work on the blog, but his grade weighing gives him that advantage.  Unfortunately for Fred, his group’s Facebook project isn’t quite as hilarious to the GSIs as he hoped.  So despite the fact that he got really into blogging, his grade suffers from his lack of foresight on his grade distribution.



Without knowing how the grades are going to shake out, the twins take a big risk by assigning the grade weights in the way that they do.  For exactly the same quality work overall, George ends up with a 3.75 and an A- while Fred gets a 2.91 and a B- for the course. Don’t worry! Fred always felt like their futures were outside of the world of academic achievement anyway!

CASES 7: Voldemort

If you thought Draco was a bad apple, you haven’t met Voldemort. He is fiendishly smart, but beyond arrogant: this dude is evil. Friendless and antisocial, he thinks the group project is totally stupid. He wants to minimize his workload, so he assigns a low weight on the first paper, plans not to write the second one, and figures out his blog posts will earn him respect. He thinks he’ll probably do the readings and attend lecture when he might find something useful for his plans of world domination.

Choice for optional components and weights: Conventional papers (first paper 10%, second 0%) and blogging (15%)

Attendance: C

Readings: B-

Participation: B-

Papers: B-

Blogging: C+

Unfortunately, like Draco, Voldemort loses his blog eligibility: he never comments on anyone else’s posts (because he doesn’t read them). So despite an early well-written post that gets a lot of commentary (because almost everyone disagrees with him), his career as a blogger is short-lived. And he thinks most of the readings, lectures and discussions are boring, so his record remains weak there, too.

Voldemort does pass the course, perhaps surprisingly, but his bad choices cost him a lot. Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he has other plans.