Grading Sheets and Grading
I have received several questions about the grading sheets (also called
answer sheets) I have posted so I decided to further explain this
grading system. Grading sheets are available for each of my
Constitutional Law exams between Spring 1998 and Fall 2011 (12 exams).
Each sheet identifies the maximum number of points available for each
question on the exam. If you look at the corresponding exam, you will
see how this information is presented on the exam itself. Each exam
lists the total points available for the exam, the number of those
points allocated to each question and a corresponding amount of time a
student should spend on each question. While the number of total points
available varies from exam to exam, that number is usually between 120
and 150 points.
On the grading sheet, for each question, the total number of points for
that question is divided among the issues for which points are
available. Each issue is described in a short hand form so that the
sheet is compact, usually a single page. After the description of the
issue, there is a parenthetical with a number inside. The number
represents the maximum number of points available for that issue. If
you add up all the individual points, it will add up to the total
number of points available for that question. Next to the maximum
number of points for an issue there is a line. When I grade an exam, I
make a copy of the grading sheet for each exam (identified by exam
number) and I write in a number above that line for the number of
points a student receives for that issue. Some spaces will be blank
meaning no points are awarded.
Underneath the last line for a question, I will write a point total
which represents the total number of points a student receives for each
question. In the bottom left margin, I will add up the points for all
of the questions. That number will then be written onto the top of the
exam in the space for the raw score. That raw score will be converted
into a final grade and the final grade will be included on each exam’s
grading sheet. I will include the grading sheet inside the exam when I
return the exams to the Registrar’s Office where they will be available
for students to review.
When I convert the raw scores to final grades, I maintain the relative
position of the exams, but adjust all the scores to fit within the
55-99 grading system used by the law school as well as within the
mandatory curve. This typically means adding points to each raw score.
For example, on the Fall 2011 Constitutional Law exam, there were 144
available raw score points. Students who received grades of 90 or above
had raw scores of 86 (60 % of the available points) and above, students
who received grades of 80 or above had raw scores of 57 (40 % of the
available points) and above, students who received grades of 70 and
above had raw scores of 44 (31 % of the available points) and above.
Raw scores below 44 received grades of D or F. Only 1 student of the 27
students who took the exam received a failing grade and that student
had a raw score of 30 points (21% of the available points) out of the
available 144 points. As a second example, on the Spring 2010
Constitutional Law exam, there were also 144 available raw score
points. Students who received grades of 90 or above had raw scores of
73 (51 % of the available points) and above, students who received
grades of 80 or above had raw scores of 60 (42 % of the available
points) and above, students who received grades of 70 and above had raw
scores of 44 (31 % of the available points) and above. Raw scores below
44 received grades of D or F. Two students out of the 46 students who
took the exam received failing grades and those students had raw score
points of 30 and below (21% of the available points) out of the
available 144 points.
While some of the numbers and percentages are the same for the two sets
of exams (although others are different), this is just coincidence.
There is no guarantee that a particular number of raw score points will
result in a particular final grade. This varies from set of exams to
set of exams based on the nature of the questions (general difficulty
of a question as well as the number of easy points available vs. hard
points available) and the nature of the class. I share this information
to make it clear that a student does not have to get all of or almost
all of the available points to do well on the exam. However, points are
only awarded for an accurate understanding of constitutional law
including the standards or tests used and how to apply those standards
to particular sets of facts.
A sample grading sheet after I graded the exam is available here
illustrate what a completed sheet looks like.