Grading Philosophy

I am interested in finding out whether you have learned some things, not whether you have missed some things. Your classmates are from diverse backgrounds and each member of the class will be interested in a different subset of the things we deal with in lectures. So all I care about is your ability to answer a reasonable number of questions correctly. Of course, some will elude you, but that does not worry me and should not worry you. Exams will always be graded as “number correct;” the grades will never deduct for incorrect answers. As a result, the grading policy for this course is somewhat unusual.

Most of the questions (about 70% to 90%) will be derived from the lectures and assigned readings. A few will depend on your general knowledge (e.g. about when was the American Civil War?) Exams from previous years are available on this website to give you a feel for the level and style, however the subject matter has changed over the years, so the emphasis may be a bit different from year to year.

Grading Policy

Option 1:

There will be 4 in-class exams of one hour each. These exams are required and are the basis of your grade. Each exam has 26 or 27 questions worth 1 point each. You must accumulate a total of 60 points to pass the course (unless you are taking the course pass-fail, in which case you need 70 points). Grades are “straight scale.”

  • 60-69 points = D
  • 70-79 points = C
  • 80-89 points = B
  • 90-110 points=A

Grades ending in 0, 1, or 2 carry a minus; those ending in 7, 8, or 9 carry a plus. All grades over 100 points are A+

Option 2:

If you are unhappy with the number of points you have accumulated after the last in-class exam AND you have taken at least three hour exams, you may take the OPTIONAL final exam. It will be strictly limited to the 2-hour time allotted and will have 100 questions each worth 1 point. Most of these questions (at least 90) will be based on the questions that were used on the in-class exams from recent years, but they will be worded differently. The grading scale is the same as for the in-class exams. If your score on the final exam is higher that you in-class total, the final exam score will determine your grade; if it is lower, it will be ignored. Since there are no make-up exams in this course for any reason, the optional final serves in place of make-up exams. So do not plan to leave Ann Arbor before the optional final just in case you miss an hour exam because of illness or other emergency.

No Make-up Exams!

No make-up exams will be given for any reason. If you have missed a required hour-exam for some good reason, then the optional final will serve as a makeup exam. WARNING: Do NOT stop taking hour-exams because you are counting on the final. Something may go wrong and if you miss the final, the accumulated points on the hour exams will be your final grade, even if you have missed one or more.