CS 473: Grading Policies
If you have any questions or concerns, please ask in lecture, during office hours, or on Piazza.
Homeworks are graded by the entire course staff, directly within Gradescope. To keep grading consistent, each numbered problem is graded by one or two CAs, under the supervision of one TA, using a detailed rubric developed within Gradescope. Under normal circumstances, all homework should be graded within one week of submission.
Exams are graded by Jeff and graduate TAs, also using Gradescope. Under normal circumstances, exams should be graded within two weeks. You can retrieve your original ungraded paper (including your cheat sheet) in office hours a few days after the exam, once we've had a change to scan everything.
Homework and exam solutions are posted at most a day after the corresponding submission deadline. Homework and exam solutions include the rubrics used by the graders.
Please double-check the posted solutions for correctness. If any posted solution contains a serious error, all students will receive a perfect score for that problem. Yes, really.
Submit regrade requests directly within Gradescope. We encourge students who have questions or concerns about their grades to talk with the course staff before submitting a regrade request. However, no grades will be changed in any student's presence.
Regrade requests for homeworks and midterms can be submitted up to two weeks after the graded work is returned. Regrade requests for the final exam can be submitted up to three weeks after the exam scores are released. Late regrade requests will be denied.
All regrade requests must include a brief written justification for the request. (Fill in the appropriate textbox on Gradescope.) Good justifications include the following:
- My answer agrees with the posted solution, but I still lost points.
- I lost 4 points for an incorrect time analysis, but the rubric says that's only worth 2 points.
- You took off points for missing the base case, but it's right here.
- My answer is correct, even though it does not match the posted solution.
- There is no explanation for my grade.
- The official solution contains a serious mistake; here's a counterexample. (Perfect scores for everyone!)
- I got a perfect score, but my solution has an error! (Yes, really.)
If you submit a regrade request correctly reporting that a problem was graded too leniently—meaning your score is actually higher than the published rubric indicates—you will keep your original grade and you will be awarded the difference in scores. For example, if you recieve a score of 9/10, and you successfully argue that you deserved a score of 3/10, your score wil be changed to 15/10. Yes, really.
We can only grade what you actually submitted. You cannot get a higher grade by explaining what you meant, either in person or in writing. Your original submission must stand on its own.
Final course grades
Final course grades will be determined as follows. (What do you expect from an algorithms course?)
- Compute raw totals from homework and exam scores.
HwCount = min(24, max(actual number of homework submissions, 16))
HwAve = (sum of HWcount highest homework scores) / (HWcount * 10)
ExAve = (sum of exam scores) / (max possible sum of exam scores)
HwWeight = HWcount * 0.0125
ExWeight = 1.0 - HwWeight
RawTotal = HwAve * HwWeight + ExAve * ExWeight
20% ≤ Homework ≤ 30%:
Each submitted homework problem is worth 1.25% of your raw total.
We expect to assign and grade about 30 homework problems during the semester.
We will count a maximum of 24 problems, dropping the lowest scores if you submit more than 24.
We will count a minimum of 16 problems, adding zeros if you submit less than 16.
70% ≤ Exams ≤ 80%:
There will be two midterm exams, each worth ≥20% of your raw total, and a cumulative final exam worth ≥30% of your raw total. If you submit less than 24 homework problems, your exams are given correspondingly higher weight.
- Forgiven homework will be treated as if it did not exist; submitted homeworks will have more weight in the overall grade computation.
- Forgiven midterms will be treated as if they did not exist; the other exams will have more weight in the overall grade computation.
- Anyone who misses both the final exam and the conflict final exam will be given an ABS (“absent from final”), which is equivalent to an F, unless they get an Incomplete from their college.
- We will not drop zero grades that result from cheating offenses.
- Remove outliers and exceptional cases.
- Anyone with an adjusted total over 95%. These students automatically get an A+. This rule typically applies to the top 2–3% of the class. I reserve the right to lower the 95% cutoff.
- Anyone with an adjusted total below 40%, or who has submitted less than half of the homework, or who otherwise does not appear to be making a good faith effort in the class. I reserve the right to give these students failing grades; however, this is not the only way to fail! This rule typically applies to the bottom 1–2% of the class.
Determine letter grades from total scores according to the following cutoffs. Each possible letter grade (except D+ and D–) covers a range of 6%. We reserve the right to lower these cutoffs.
- 94% ≤ A+
- 88% ≤ A < 94%
- 82% ≤ A– < 88%
- 76% ≤ B+ < 82%
- 70% ≤ B < 76%
- 64% ≤ B– < 70%
- 58% ≤ C+ < 64%
- 52% ≤ C < 58%
- 46% ≤ C– < 52%
- 40% ≤ D < 46%
- 0% ≤ F < 40%
As a backup, determine letter grades using the actual distribution of total scores among undergraduates:
For example, the B+/A– cutoff is 2/3 standard deviations above the mean, and the B–/C+ cutoff is 2/3 standard deviations below the mean. Outliers are excluded from the cutoff computation to avoid unfairly skewing the curve.
- The mean is the center of the B range.
- Each standard deviation is worth 3/4 of a letter grade.
Give each student the higher of the two letter grades. The fixed cutoffs were chosen to be slightly more generous than the curves in Jeff's previous offerings of 473 (see below), so we don't expect to apply the curve to anyone.
- Adjust grades upwards at the instructor's whim.
Here are the grade distributions for all Jeff's previous offerings of CS 473. This isn't really enough for the “typical” distribution to make sense, but there it is anyway. (Spring 2015 was a pilot offering, which did not use the current flexible homework percentage. Jeff also taught CS 473 in Spring 2020, but the course was graded on a strict Pass/No-Pass basis that semester.)
||Mean ± stdev
| Spring 2015* || 65% ± 12% || 42%
|| ugrads: || 7 || 12 || 5 || 0 || 0
| || ||
|| grads: || 13 || 6 || 0 || 0 || 0
| Spring 2016 || 74% ± 11% || 42%
|| ugrads: || 27 || 29 || 21 || 3 || 0
| || ||
|| grads: || 11 || 11 || 0 || 0 || 0
| Spring 2017 || 73% ± 13% || 41%
|| ugrads: || 28 || 30 || 22 || 3 || 4
| || ||
|| grads: || 6 || 7 || 3 || 0 || 0
| Typical || 72% ± 12% || 42%
|| ugrads: || 32% || 37% || 25% || 3% || 2%
| || ||
|| grads: || 52% || 42% || 5% || 0% || 0%
You can compare my grade distributions with others' here.