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Know Your Rights: Can I appeal my grade?

appeal my grade
Not happy with your grade? Think you were unfairly marked? Here's what to do... Source: Trust Tru Katsande/Unsplash

Can I apply for work as an international student in my host country? What are my wage rights? Am I allowed to join protests and class walkouts? If I had a run-in with the authorities, what should I do? To help you understand the extent and limitations of your rights as a student abroad, Study International News will provide the answers to all these burning questions and more through our “Know Your Rights” article series. Have a question you want to be answered? Email us at editor@hybrid.co

Days assigned to the collection of essay and exam results are pretty much always laced with a healthy dose of anxiety. Whether you’re hoping for that top grade or just praying you passed, there’s bound to be something to feel nervous about.

But what happens when you’re not sighing with relief and spending the night celebrating? What happens when your mark is much lower than you expected and you think something is up?

Maybe your professor has it in for you or you think they missed something while marking; perhaps you were ill and this should be taken into consideration or you really just don’t think you deserve that grade.

It’s an awful feeling no matter what the grade or the reason behind it and, naturally, you’ll want to get to the bottom of it.

So, is there anything you can do?

In short, the answer to this tends to be no – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to try and rectify the situation.

It sure is frustrating but there’s actually little you can do. Source: Giphy

Firstly, remember regulations can vary between universities and countries so what might be a rule at one university may not be one at yours.

At the large majority of institutions, at university level, there is a process you can follow if you believe you have been incorrectly graded but that’s not to say it’s likely anything will change.

Speak to your professor

Don’t waste time. The minute you have a suspicion something could be up or think you’ve received an incorrect grade you should act because many institutions have very a small window for grade appeals.

One of the first things you should do is contact your professor. Send across a quick, polite email asking for a meeting as soon as they can fit you in and note that it’s to discuss your grades.

Make sure you have any evidence to support your claim gathered up before the meeting. This could be anything from doctor’s notes, photocopied pages of books, your exam paper or a list of your grades, depending on what you think went amiss.

Here’s the proof! Source: Giphy

Don’t throw any accusations and don’t go into the meeting holding any anger. If you want respect you have to make sure you give it, so respect your lecturer and if they say the mark stands then that’s something you have to accept.

The last thing you want is to have a negative relationship with your professor – that’s something that certainly won’t work in your favour.

Speak to administration staff

If you don’t get very far with your professor you may wish to take it further or to make a formal appeal or complaint.

How you go about this is likely to be slightly different at every university, so take to the handbook or website and send an email across to the administration team asking them to explain what you should do from here.

It’s worth an ask but grades are rarely changed. Source: Giphy

Grades aren’t changed all too often so try to be realisitic about the situation. There’s still no harm in trying and if something genuinely has gone amiss the university needs to address it.

It might depend on why you think you got that grade

Illness: If you feel the reason for your grade was due to illness then sadly it may be too late.

Usually, if you’re feeling ill or something’s happened that could seriously affect your ability to perform in the exam or essay then you can submit an extenuating circumstances (EC) form.

At the majority of universities, however, if you hand in that essay or turn up to that exam you are declaring yourself ‘fit to sit’, meaning you will be ineligible for and EC extension or a remark.

If you’re ill, don’t wait for your grade before alerting the university. Source: Giphy

Next time, if something like this occurs, speak to your lecturer beforehand and they can advise you on what you can do. This may involve missing an exam or deadline due to your illness or situation and then submitting an EC form at the end. Your lecturer will be able to direct you accordingly.

Your professor has it in for you: Unfortunately, there is very little you can do if the problem is a quarrel with your lecturer. You can make a complaint if there are serious concerns but often, you will find yourself stuck.

Try and speak to your professor in a mature and calm way and ask for in-depth feedback on your grade. You might find that on reflection, they were being fair and you might learn how you can improve for next time. You never know what might come of it.

Okay, but don’t be rude back. Source: Giphy

Your professor missed something: If you received your paper back and there was something you think was wrongly marked or your professor didn’t notice then be sure to send an email and set up a meeting with them immediately, explaining you wish to talk about your grade.

You should ask them to go through it with you and see if they notice their mistake. If not, then politely ask at the end of their explanation if X, Y or Z was taken into account. Remember not to challenge them and not to be aggressive.

Hopefully, they will notice the missed section or that they marked something incorrectly and agree to amend your mark, but if they don’t, you must respect their professional opinion and accept your grade is unlikely to change.

There was an error inputting your grade: Contact administration, your head of department and the professor marking your work (if you know who it was) and ask for a breakdown of your grades.

If you notice anything that looks wrong, flag it. Sometimes, through human or computer error, things go awry and you might end up with a grade that doesn’t match the one on your paper.

It happens, human error or a computer malfunction can mean you get the wrong grade. Source: Giphy

Often, if it’s your final grade you want to challenge, you’re more likely to win your case here than for an individual exam or assignment. You may be able to apply to have your final mark reconsidered if you follow the procedure your university outlines and act immediately.

Just keep in mind, your professor is a human being and not some mystical creature, so it makes sense that they occasionally make mistakes. Speak to them in a mature way and you never know what you might get, but don’t go there expecting your mark to change drastically, if at all.

While they may be human, whether you like it or not, they are your superior and they get the final say whether you think it’s fair or not.

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