Monday, November 28, 2011

What is a reasonable time frame to wait for a test to be graded?

Well, we're on week 8, the last week before finals.  Which means it's been 8 weeks since mid-terms.  Which means our entire class has been waiting two months for our ACT exams to be graded.  It's a little bit unsettling going into finals not knowing where you stand, especially on a test that's worth 20% of your semester grade.

And I've really tried to be understanding.  The faculty decided this year to have both the first and second years take the ACT during midterms, to avoid last year's disaster of not getting our grades back until the first week of February. Last year, the people who had failed first semester didn't find out until a month into second semester.

Anyway, so that means that they've had to grade 200 tests, each about 8 pages long.  I get it.  That's a massive amount of grading.  I've been whining to my husband and my parents for the past month about not having a grade, and my patience is really starting to wear thin.  Partially because the 1st years got their ACT grades a week and a half ago.  So we had to wait until February last year, and this year, even though ours were originally supposed to be taken during midterms, we still have to wait even longer for our grades?  It seems to me that it would be more fair to not make our class wait freakishly long two years in a row.

Even worse is that faculty keeps telling us that finding out our grades shouldn't affect how we study for finals.  Personally, it doesn't really affect how I study, but for some people it might.  A blanket platitude may not apply to the entire class.  Think about it - you have a class of 100 people who are used to being good students and obsessed about their grades - that's how they qualified to get here in the first place.  Telling them to not worry about something isn't going to work, because that goes against the personality type that admissions selects for.

And while it doesn't effect my study habits, it does give me an unknown to stress over.  I've had a blank spot in my excel spreadsheet of my grades that's just sitting there mocking me.  I can fill it in with hypothetical values, so I can get rough numbers of the percentages I need to get on finals to get X grade, but when it affects 20% of my overall grade, the numbers are barely more than wild-ass guesses.    

Or another way to think about how irritating the 2 month wait is, is in dollars.  Tuition is 22k a semester here. The class that had the ACT exam is 16 credit hours out of 22 credit hours.  That means that class costs 16k. That basically means the test that's worth 20% of our overall grade is worth $3200 in tuition per person.  Multiply that by 95 classmates, and that's $300,000 going towards our class's ACT exam.  And yes, I know it's disingenuous to assign test grades a monetary value like that, but when you're putting yourself in debt up to your eyeballs, you expect to get value for your dollar, or feel like you're getting what you're paying for.

Or here's another way to think about why waiting 2 months is so annoying.  8 weeks = 56 days, or 40 days if you don't count weekends.  If they're grading both classes, that would mean they should grade a minimum of 5 tests per day, or if we're only looking at our class's tests, 2.3 per day.  I don't really feel like that's a reasonable pace.  In undergrad, professors taught multiple classes of 100 students, and managed to get grades back quickly.

And then telling us a week and a half ago that we'd get them back "just after thanksgiving break" isn't true, when JUST after thanksgiving break is Monday, which is today, and there are no grades.  Telling us today that we "should" have them by Wednesday doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, when we "should" have had them back weeks ago.

Can you tell it's the week before finals, and I'm stressed and I'm grumpy?

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