Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Yesterday I received intructions for assessment of student essays. This is the umpteenth system of grades I will have to learn. The first, in Russia, was quite easy, 1 to 5, with the reservation that 1, the lowest, was never used. In Sweden, they first used 1-5 in schools (if they used grades at all), but at the university it was Fail, Pass and Pass with distinction. Except that in teacher traning it was just Fail or Pass. Recenty, school grades have become Pass with exceptional distinction, Pass with distinction, Pass and Not Yet Pass (the latter apparently not to give the students a lifetime trauma with Fail).

A couple of years ago Swedish universities changed to the European system, which is A-F, with E, F and Fx denoting Fail, with some slight nuanses in the degree of failure. In Finland, where I have taught extensively, it used to be 1-3, with four quartergrades in between, that is, 1,0, 1,25, 1,5, 1,75 etc. But for master and doctoral grades, the old Latin grades were, and still are, used: Appobatur, Lubenter approbatur, Non sine laude approbatur, Cum laude approbatur, Magna cum laude approbatur, Eximia cum laude approbatur and Laudatur. I have never met anyone who got Laudatur.

In the US, the grades were A, A-, B+, B, B- and so on, except for final grades, where pluses and minuses were not allowed.

Here in Cambridge, they use A, B+ and B, but there are variations within each grade, so that A can be 70 or 72, B+ 66 or 64 - or something like that, I will still have to study it carefully, to get an A for my grading.

To my complete despair, Morag has mentioned in passing that this system is only used for master; for undergraduate essays, a different one will be applied.

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