Course Grades

Grading in this course is intended to be fair and objectively measure your performance as much as possible. We do not curve to a specific letter grade, but instead look for specific criteria.These means that is possible for all students to earn As. In fact, the number of As has risen by 5% over the past three years, reflecting improved student performance.

Table of Contents

Letter Grades

This course is not intended to be a competition between students, which is why we do not curve to a letter grade. Instead, our letter grades have a specific meaning:

  • A:  Student has mastered the material and can become a consultant or TA.
  • B:  Student is strong enough to continue on to CS 2110 (and beyond).
  • C:  Student should not take CS 2110 without additional remedial work.

Grades of D and F are rare and are typically given to students who stop turning in work.

While we do give some +/- grades when students are near the border, we prefer to give straight letter grades for the most part. In recent years the grade distribution as been 40% As, 40% Bs, and 20% Cs. The number of As has risen over time while the number of Cs has gone down.

To determine these grades, we start first with a simple grade computation. This only gives us a starting point, however. For students near a boundary, we break out grades along multiple axes: assignments, exams, participation. We also look if the student improved over time, such as increased grades each exam.

Because of everything that is involved in grading, we do not set or announce hard grade boundaries. We will say that, historically, any course total over 90 is an A and any course total under 86 is a B (or lower), but the 89 – 87 range is looked at on a case-by-case basis. With that said, we promise to communicate how you are doing after ever single assignment and exam. Your performance evaluation in this class should never be a surprise.

Taking the Course S/U

As of Fall 2018, students are no longer permitted to take the course S/U. This decision was not taken lightly, but we felt it was necessary as a response to the growing size of the course. If an S/U option is of paramount importance to you, this option is occasionally permitted during the Spring semester.

Grade Computation

Grading starts with a raw numerical score based on core points for assignments and exams. However, this is only a starting point for grades, and many other factors are considered when a student is within 3 points of a grade boundary.

Below is a list of the percentage of the total score that is allocated to each component of the course. These percentages may change as the semester moves on, depending on how assignments are revised.

Exams 60%
Prelim 1 15%
Prelim 2 15%
Final 30%
Assignments 38%
A1: Currency 3%
A2: Call Frames 3%
A3: Color Models 4%
A4: Turtles 7%
A5: Class Folders 3%
A6: Connect-N 8%
A7: Alien Invaders 10%
Class Participation 2%


Everyone is expected to complete the lab activities, though labs do not count in the total score. You simply get credit for completing them. You may miss up to three labs over the course of the semester with no penalty. If you miss any more than that, we will reduce your course grade by half a letter grade (e.g. B goes to B-) for every three labs missing.

Lab section attendance is semi-mandatory. If the online system has already given you credit for the lab, then you do not need to attend the lab. However, some labs will have questions that require manual grading. You will need to be in section to have these labs checked off.


You will note that 2% of the course is participation. That grade comes from in-class polls and from the online surveys (1% for each). Your polling grade will be determined by how often you answered an in-class poll. We only grade whether or not you answered the poll, not that the answer was correct (not all questions have a correct answer). You will be graded on a 3 point scale where 3 points is full credit. To get full credit, you must answer 75% of the questions in the class. You lose one point for each 25% below that.

The online surveys will be posted on the CS Course Management System (CMS) periodically throughout the semester. Survey 0 is active the first week of class. These are intended to capture information about the course and the assignments. They will be graded on a 4 point scale where 4 points is full credit. The number of points is determined by the number of surveys answered. To get full credit, you must complete all the surveys, though you are permitted to skip questions you feel are too sensitive.

Grading Policies

Academic Integrity

It is very import that you respect academic integrity. Cheating may seem an easy way out, but in the long run, it really hurts you more than anyone else. You end up not learning what you should learn, and it hurts your self-image. Please review the course academic integrity policy.

Exam Conflicts

The times for the prelims and final are given on the exams page. Make-up exams are only offered in the case of legitimate conflicts. Two weeks before each exam, we will allow students to submit possible conflicts to schedule a make-up.


If you feel that the graders have incorrectly graded an exam or hand-written assignment, you may request a regrade. The regrade policy depends on what has been graded.

Keep in mind that we reserve the right to regrade the entire submission from scratch, and that a regrade request may cause your grade to go down. You will receive more details when you receive a grade on an assignment or an exam.