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3rd March 2014

Humanities faculty suggests drastic grading system change

Proposed change in the mark scheme could see students graded in a similar way to the American style of letter grades

The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Humanities has proposed introducing a revised marking scheme intended to be “clearer and more transparent,” turning away from the classic 100-point system.

The suggestion, still in its early stages, would see students instead being assessed by a 14-level system, with zero equalling a very low fail and 14 a very high first.

The final grades, rather than being in the long-running undergraduate class system, would be presented in a way resembling the American system, with grades awarded ranging from A+ to F.

While the Faculty is still asking for students’ opinions on the subject, there is some suggestion that it could be introduced in September 2014 to students from all years.

The idea to change the system comes after dissatisfaction from students and staff alike over the marking discrepancy between quantitatively marked exams in many modules of subjects such as economics, and qualitatively marked exams that are sat in philosophy and others.

Many find the generally accepted view that essays and written answer exams are rarely given a grade above 80 per cent unfair in comparison to the possibility of getting 100 per cent in exams such as mathematics or economics.

This can be especially noticeable for those studying for joint honours degrees, where the result for one module may be drastically higher than for others purely due to its nature of examination.

However, joint honours students may not welcome the proposed change. Many students’ subjects span faculties and having different grading systems for different subjects could complicate matters more.

Many are concerned that concentrating 100 intervals down to 14 would hinder discernibility over how students perform, and that students currently in their first and second years would graduate with a potentially confusing range of grades.

The faculty said that “nothing has yet been decided.”

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