Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The ECE 313 Grading Scheme

Grade Distribution Formula: Scores on homework and examinations will be weighted as shown below in determining your grade.

  • 15% Homework

  • 20% Each Hour Examination

  • 45% Final Examination

To avoid fractions, the Final Exam is worth a maximum of 225 points, the Hour Exams are worth a maximum of 100 points each, and your average homework score is normalized to a maximum of 75 points. In computing your average homework score, I will not include the lowest of all your homework scores (which may well be a 0 for homework turned in late or not turned in at all).

Letter Grades: After computing each student's Grand Total score (maximum of 500 points) as the sum of the average homework score, hour exam scores, and final exam score, I find the mean m and the standard deviation s of the Grand Total scores. Letter grades are assigned with ROUGHLY the following cut-offs, PROVIDED that m-s is at least 250.
  • A's to scores greater than m+1.25s

  • B's to scores in the range m+0.25s to m+1.25s,

  • C's to scores in the range m-s to m+0.25s

  • D's to scores in the range m-1.75s to m-s

  • F's to scores below m-1.75s

This often leads to approximately half the class getting A's and B's which seems to be common practice in upper-division ECE courses. On the other hand, more D's and F's are usually recorded in ECE 313 than in most other 300-level ECE courses.

Trivia regarding grading practice

  • + and - grades are SOMETIMES awarded at the edges of these cut-offs, usually on the basis of performance on some specific aspect of the course, e.g. an above average score on the Final Exam and a Grand Total score near an upper cut-off will often result in a + letter grade.

  • The reason for saying ROUGHLY is that I reserve the right to make minor adjustments (UPwards or DOWNwards) to each cut-off as necessary to avoid discriminating between students on the basis of very small differences in scores. For example, if student scores in increasing order are as follows:

    ..., m+0.244s, m+0.246s, m+0.248s, m+0.248s, m+0.251s, m+0.66s, ...

    then the student scoring m+0.251s gets a C (or C+) and not a B (or B-) even though the score is greater than m+0.25s.

  • Regardless of your exam performance and the settings of the cut-offs, you will receive the same grade as everyone who has the same Grand Total score as you, and nobody who has a lower Grand Total score will receive a higher grade than you.

  • The above grading scheme applies only if m-s is at least 250 points. I have a great deal of difficulty in giving passing grades to those who score less than 50% of the total points on the course, and more so when most of the poor scoring comes about as the result of writing probabilities that are less than 0 or greater than 1. Anyone who does not understand or remember even the FIRST axiom of probability does NOT deserve to pass the course, and I am prepared to defend this opinion to Head, Dean, or Provost. In a spectacular case about 11 years ago, 51 D's and F's (called E's in those days) were given in a class of 177 students. However, I hope that performances will not be as bad as that this semester.