Exam, grading, and make-up FAQ

This is a list of all too frequently asked questions about my (Lívia Markóczy) exam and course grading policies. While there may be exceptions to what is below because it is hard to write one document to cover different courses with different requirements, this does reflect my policy which I do stick to. So when reading this, be aware that not all of my classes have surprise quizes, group and individual projects, etc. You will have to see which specific policies apply to your course. However, you may wish to read the parts that don't relate to your particular course so that you can better understand my view on grading.


  1. When is the final?

    If there is a final exam for a class it will be at the university scheduled time and place during finals week. This is a UCR rule which I must adhere to.

    Because my exams are 80 minute exams, I don't use the full exam period provided. So below are the times for the coming finals.
    Spring 2003 Finals
    CourseDateScheduled time Actual Final timeRoom
    (9:40-11 class)
    June 10 8-11 9:40-11 HMNSS 1503
    (2:10-3:30 class)
    June 11 3-6 3-4:20 SPR1340
    Course not taught Spring 2003

  2. I have a personal/family/medical emergency and I cannot make it to the final. What do I do?

    This is what incompletes are for. If you are unable to complete the work for a class due to such an emergency, the university allows me to give you an incomplete. I will usually be able to schedule a make up final for during the next quarter. If you get an incomplete in your last quarter at UCR, it may affect your graduation. Still an emergency is an emergency and those expecting you to graduate at a certain date will have to understand that it may be delayed one quarter.

    You also must notify me as soon as reasonable under the circumstances. And you should be prepared to provide documentation about the emergency.

  3. But I want to get a grade for the course now, and don't want an incomplete.

    I'm sorry. It is an enormous amount of work preparing an alternate final as a make-up exam for such students. The incomplete is one of the unfortunate consequences of the emergency that forces you to miss the final.

Class participation

  1. Why is class participation such a big part of the grade for many of your courses?

    My overall goal is for you to solidly learn the material. Experience has shown several things. First is that students do not learn the material I teach unless they come to class prepared regularly. A second thing is that the class is much more interesting and enjoyable if everyone comes prepared. The third thing is that many students will not come to class prepared unless there is a direct and immediate incentive to do so. So I have to use direct and explicit incentives to ensure that most students come to class prepared.

  2. My class participation grades are poor; is there some extra credit I can do to still get a good grade in the class?

    No. The only way to get a good score for class participation is to regularly come prepared to class. Allowing some other extra-credit to make up for poor class participation would defeat the purpose of the class participation incentive.

    For many of my classes it is in principle possible to get a tolerable grade for the course even without class participation if you perform exceptionally well on the exams and projects. But experience shows that students who do not come to class prepared do poorly on exams and projects. So in practice if you do not come prepared to class meetings, you will do extremely poorly in the class.

  3. I have a job/schedule that makes it difficult for me to attend class regularly. I think that the job is a higher priority

    Only you can decide what should be a higher priority. But remember that your choice has consequences. If you do not regularly attend class and come prepared, you will do very poorly in it. If you miss a large portion of class meetings you will probably fail the course. You cannot have your cake and eat it, too. If you know that you will not be able to attend class regularly (for whatever reason), then do not sign up for a course which requires course participation. My courses typically do require participation.

  4. I'm not a native speaker of English. Course participation is difficult for me.

    I'm not a native speaker of English either, and I do understand the difficultly. I do my best to try to manage the conversation so those who feel less comfortable speaking up in public will feel comfortable in class and will be able to participate. If after a few weeks of class you still think this is a problem, talk to me during office hours.

  5. How is class participation curved?

    The general scheme I use (and may later adopt to other grading if it works) is this. 100% is the best anyone can do given the circumstances of the class. So I will take (something like) the highest score in class participation and treat that as "100". So, if the highest actual score in a particular term is 25 then I will (almost) treat 25 as the highest possible score, and all other scores will be relative to that.

    I do make one important adjustment on that system (to help preserve the safety of the top scorer). I don't actually pick the the very top score as the measure of what is possible, but the score from, maybe, the 4th from top. The details depend on the actual distribution (so that some exceptionally high scorers don't throw the whole thing off) and it depends on the number of people in the course.

  6. What is my current score?

    During the term, I may tell you that you are doing "reasonably well", or "could stand some improvement" in class participation if you ask me. But I will not be more specific. This is because I don't want students to try to calculate whether they can stop participating. Remember, my goal is to have everyone come prepared for each class.

  7. Does all class participation count the same?

    I won't be precise about the details, but the answer is "no". Some amount of participation all on one day will not count as much as the same total participation spread over several class meetings. Remember, my goal is to have everyone come prepared to class every day.

  8. Why won't you be precise about your scoring details?

    In every class there are always one or two members who try to "game the system". They try to comply with the letter of the requirement without actually meeting its intent. It is because of those few students that I need a complicated system at all, and why I need to be imprecise about some of the details.

Make-up work or extra credit

  1. I missed the surprise quiz and the (surprise) make-up for the surprise quiz. Can I schedule a make-up

    Note: Obviously this question only applies to courses that have a suprise quiz. If there is no mention of a surprise quiz in the course syllabus, there is no surprise quiz.

    No. One of the purposes of a surprise/pop quiz it to provide an incentive for people to come to class prepared. If you somehow miss one, there may be a surprise make-up quiz. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde "to miss one pop quiz may be regarded as misfortune, to miss two looks like carelessness". Indeed, past experience shows that it is exactly the same people who miss the original who are somehow absent for the repeat. It is also the same people who miss these who fail to participate in class. So I repeat again coming to class prepared is a requirement for my courses.

  2. I didn't do some crucial part of the course work. Is there some make-up work I can do?

    No. If you have a good reason for not being able to do what is required for the course (family/personal/medical emergency) you may get an incomplete, with the opportunity to make up the work in the next quarter. This might delay graduation for you, but that is one of the unfortunate consequences of such emergencies.

    Also you must inform me about the possibility of a need for an incomplete as soon as reasonably possible. When students tell me of a long standing problem only during the last week of the quarter, I view the request for an incomplete with suspicion.

  3. Are there exceptions?

    Of course I can't anticipate everything that might come up, so there may be exceptions. But "I am failing your class, and really need to graduate" will not be the basis for exceptions.

  4. This all seems a bit harsh, doesn't it?

    Anything less would be unfair to the vast majority of students who positively contribute to their own and their classmates' education by doing the work for the class.

Version: $Revision: 1.6 $
Last Modified: $Date: 2003/04/10 21:15:22 $
First established March 19, 2003
Author: Livia Markoczy