You Ask, We Answer: Plus-Minus Grading

Dear Bevo,

The +/- grading system at UT must be amended. An A and A- should be of equal value (4.0) and B- should be 3.00 GPA points not 2.67. Why is the UT grade system so harsh?

Sincerely, Grades McGee


Dear Grades,

The answer, essentially, is peer pressure. UT first considered applying the plus-minus system to undergraduates courses in 2007, although they did not implement the policy officially until 2009. They did it for three reasons. The first: UT’s “peer schools” were doing it. These are schools to which UT compares itself academically, so the University wanted to keep up with them.

The second, less superficial, reason was to aid in easing the transfer process. Without the plus/minus system at UT, there was a discrepancy in transfer students’ grades that messed up GPA recalculation, essentially causing them to have differing GPAs between institutions. And lastly — yes, they did want to make you work harder. 

A 2007 memo from the Education Policy Committee stated that plus-minus grading would decrease the likelihood that students would “perform ‘just well enough’ to make an A, B or C.”

On a personal level, the change is a pain. We’ve all had classes where we ended up half a point short of a B or an A. On a systematic level, it helps UT keep up with the competition and works to reduce grade inflation. If having a plus/minus grading system keeps the University away from more drastic measures — like implementing intentional grade deflation — it’s worth it. 


Struggling Bevo