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 to illustrate what a completed sheet looks like.