If a student receives a lower grade that he or she believes is unfair, they can write a grade appeal letter to the professor, dean of the college or an appeals board requesting that the grade be raised. If an exam or course was graded very severely by a professor, and this standard was applied to every student in the class, a grade change will not usually be considered. Even if a professor is antagonistic towards a student, it must be proved that the antagonistic attitude resulted in a lower grade. If the student has a doubt or concern that they deserved a higher grade, but they do not know how to go forward, their best option is to talk with the chairperson of their school or college’s Grade Appeals Committee or someone in the Dean of Student’s Office.
There are several reasons why a person believes he or she deserves a better grade. The student may feel that he or she has put many hours of diligent work into a project, and received an unfair low grade. The student must have a strong foundation for the argument that harmonizes with the instructions for the assignment or class. For example, he or she must have proof that they followed the instructions for the assignment or class, addressed the proper points in an essay or followed any instructions in the syllabus. If the student cannot prove that he or she crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is, they will be putting the professor in the delicate position of being asked for extra consideration and to give an undeserved grade.
It is important for the student to read the professor’s comments carefully about an assignment. Often, a misunderstanding of the meaning of the comments is the reason a student feels the grade is unfair. Once they understand the comments, they may agree with the grade.
The student should also consider carefully if changing a particular grade is worth the time an effort. If it is a grade for a class and may make the difference of being accepted to graduate school, it is worth going to the trouble to try to change it. However, if it is a minor grade that is a small percentage of the overall grade point average, it might be better just to accept the grade even if the student thinks it is unfair.
Most colleges request that the student try to resolve the dispute directly with the professor or department head. This should be done in a polite and respectful manner. Teachers will not think kindly of a belligerent student that uses confrontation to change a grade. Teachers also have little time to devote to grade disputes. The student should be well organized and able to make his or her point in a grade appeal letter quickly and clearly. A professor of Economics may have a different way to handle grade appeals than a professor of History. The student should not assume that every request would be handled in the same manner.
Before writing a grade appeal letter, the student should determine if the school has an official format for appealing grades. Some schools have a prescribed format for grade appeal letters and some have no special requirements. Some professors have teaching assistants who give the grades. If the grade was given by a teaching assistant, that person should be included in the appeal.
This is a sample grade appeal letter to a professor as a first attempt to have a grade in a class changed. If the professor is not willing to change the grade, the student has the option of sending another letter to an appeal board. If this is done, the required forms or documents need to be included with the letter.
Sample Grade Appeal Letter for College
Name of Student
Address of Student
City, State, Zip Code
College ID Number of Student
Name of Professor
Name of College
Address of College
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Grade change request for Biology 101
Dear Name of Professor:
This is a formal request that you change my grade in Biology 101 for the fall semester DATE from a C to a B. I understand why you gave me a C grade, but I hope you will change it because of certain circumstances that were beyond my control. I received an A on every class test as well as an A on my project about the endangered frogs in this county. However, because I was not able to take the final exam, I received an F and my final grade was a C.
The reason I could not take the exam is that I was in the hospital with a concussion after an automobile accident. The accident was not my fault, and I am well now, but I was under care for two weeks, during which the final exam was held. I have enclosed copies of my medical records.
I believe that if I had been able to sit for the exam, I would have made an A or B+ grade based on my other coursework. I would be happy to take the exam at any time if you would be willing to give it to me privately.
I am a pre-med student, and a C grade in any pre-med course will greatly hamper my chances of being admitted to medical school. I would very much like to meet with you at any time that is convenient for you to discuss the possibility of my grade being raised. I can be reached at Email Address or at Phone Number. Thank you for considering my request.
Signature of Student
Printed Name of Student
List of Enclosures: Medical Records