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Improving Your Grades – Overview

What grade do you desire on your writing?

Not everyone needs or wants an ‘A’. Sometimes it is difficult to know what will earn an A from a particular teacher or program.

The following is an opinionated guide to how grades work in US higher education. The pointers you’ll find here, however, are hard-won and come from observing many schools and programs involving many teachers…

Browse Improving Your Grades Articles:

Analyzing Audience to Maximize Your Impact (and Grades)

Understanding how most teachers view student attitudes and approaches to work can help you succeed.

How do I get from the ‘C’ range to a ‘B’ (or Better)?

If you’ve been getting C’s on your papers and you want to raise those grades to B’s or even higher, it’s good to remember first what those grades of B and C mean. Students sometimes assume (mistakenly) that B should be the default grade, or that if they routinely received B’s in high school they’re entitled to receive them in college too. But “B” is supposed to mean good, while “C” means average. There are some classes where B is the most common grade earned on papers, so sometimes B can also mean “average.” In both cases, consider what “average” and “good” mean according to the standards of the school you’re attending.

How to Move from the ‘B’ Range to an ‘A’

If you want to really go after that big A, it’s good to remember what those grades of A and B mean. Students sometimes assume (mistakenly) that A should be a default grade, or that if they routinely received A’s in high school they’re entitled to receive them in college too. But “A” is supposed to mean excellent, while “B” means good. In both cases, consider what “good” and “excellent” mean according to the standards of the school you’re attending.

How to Write an ‘A’ Paper

Step-by-step guidance to earning as high a grade as possible.

What Makes an ‘A’ Paper?

"Some students earn A's effortlessly, while others labor away for a B+, or C+. What makes an A paper? Obviously the definition of an 'A' varies from teacher to teacher. Most students know that some teachers give out only a few As, while others are quite generous. And most teachers don't talk about what makes an A. This may be because they feel the ingredients of an excellent paper can't be captured in a simple list, or because they can't really articulate what an A paper actually is - they just know it when they see it."