Why You Should Not Engage in Grade Grubbing

Grade Grubbing (also called "grade begging" or "grade lawyering") is the act of a student going to a professor and asking for a grade to be raised for no legitimate reason. Often the student argues that they feel their work was "not graded fairly", or they made only a small mistake and should get more points, or they knew what they were doing even though they gave the wrong answer. Grade grubbing often involves asking for detailed justification of why certain points were taken off, questioning subjective aspects of grading (e.g., Why is this problem worth 5 points and this one worth 7 points?), and wearing down the professor by arguing, begging, and pleading until they finally relent and increase the student's grade.

Grade grubbing can occur at many different levels: the student may be arguing an F should be turned into a passing grade, or they may be arguing that an A- should be changed to an A. The tactics uses in grade grubbing will often alternate among flattery, insults, tears, threats, and explanations of how the student's grade not being changed will cause them to lose their scholarship, not get in to medical/law/business/graduate school, be forced to leave school, have to return to their home country, or otherwise destroy their life.

Grade grubbing is horrible behavior on the part of a student, and you should never engage in it.

You may think it can't hurt to ask for you grade to be raised, but the truth is it does --- and it hurts you a lot. Grade grubbing is rude, offensive, and wastes professors' time. It is also unfair to other students who do not try to argue their grades.

In addition, grade grubbing presents a very negative image of you: it indicates that you do not care about learning the material, and that all that matters to you is your grade in the class, even if you get that grade unfairly or when you do not deserve it.

Grade grubbing greatly affects the way your professors view you and the way they will treat you in the future. If you challenge your grade without a good reason, you will probably not be remembered fondly when you ask that professor for a recommendation or if that professor has to make decisions or choices that will affect you in the future.

In college mathematics courses it is also important to keep in mind that the solution to a problem is often more than just the final answer; it also includes the process used to arrive at the final answer. (See Item #7 in this Handout on Expectations of Higher Level Math Courses.) This process, and all necessary steps, will be graded, and it is possible ---in fact, many times even appropriate--- that you lose points for a faulty process or description even when the final answer is correct.

If an obvious error has been made in grading, such as points added incorrectly or a clearly correct answer was inadvertently marked wrong, then by all means talk to the professor and they will likely change your grade immediately. Likewise, if you don't understand why you lost points, or want clarification (not justification) of the grading, most professors are happy to talk with you. And, if you want to discuss the material, learn what you did wrong, or discuss how to do better on future work, most professors will probably be thrilled to speak to you about this.

However, if you are going to approach a professor who has spent their life studying, teaching, and doing research on a particular topic, and then argue that their decision of how to grade or award points should be changed to what you say it should be, then you better be prepared with a strong and convincing argument.

Back Arrow Back