Grade Calculator

This Grade Calculator calculates a final grade based on weighted averages. The calculator accepts both numerical as well as letter grades in the "Grade" field. Numbers entered can either be typical grade points assigned to certain letter grades, or can also be numbers from 0-100. This allows manipulation of the calculator to determine the averages necessary for each portion of a course to attain the desired final grade. Note that the weight field must be numerical, and additional rows can be added by clicking the last row.

 Assignment or Test (optional)GradeWeight

Grade Planning Calculator

Given a "Target Final Grade," this calculator can help determine the average grade necessary to attain the target grade, based on a current average grade and its total weight contribution to the total grade. For example, if a student currently has an 85 in a course, and wants to determine the necessary average on the remaining assignments or tests to attain a 90 in the course, the student will first need to determine what percentage of their total grade the 85 comprises. Given that value, the calculator can then determine the necessary average grade. It is possible for the calculator to return values that may not be possible, such as an average grade of 116 on future assignments. This means that given the weight of the remaining assignments and tests, the desired grade would not be attainable (without extra credit or a means to attain the calculated grade).

Current Average Grade:
Target Final Grade:
Current Total Weight:

RelatedGPA Calculator

The calculators above use the following letter grades and their typical corresponding numerical equivalents based on grade points. Refer to the GPA Calculator for further detail.

Brief history of different grading systems1

In 1785, students at Yale were ranked based on "optimi" being the highest rank, followed by second optimi, inferiore (lower), and pejores (worse). At William and Mary, students were ranked as either No. 1, or No. 2, where No. 1 represented students that were first in their class, while No. 2 represented those who were "orderly, correct and attentive." Meanwhile at Harvard, students were graded based on a numerical system from 1-200 (except for math and philosophy where 1-100 was used). Later, shortly after 1883, Harvard used a system of "Classes" where students were either Class I, II, III, IV, or V, with V representing a failing grade. All of these examples show the subjective, arbitrary, and inconsistent nature with which different institutions graded their students, demonstrating the need for a more standardized, albeit equally arbitrary grading system.

In 1887, Mount Holyoke College became the first college to use letter grades similar to those commonly used today. The college used a grading scale with the letters A, B, C, D, and E, where E represented a failing grade. This grading system however, was far stricter than those commonly used today, with a failing grade being defined as anything below a 75%. The college later re-defined their grading system, adding the letter F for a failing grade (still below 75%). This system of using a letter grading scale became increasingly popular within colleges and high schools, eventually leading to the letter grading systems typically used today. However, there is still significant variation regarding what may constitute an A, or whether a system uses plusses or minuses (i.e. A+ or B-), among other differences.

An alternative to the letter grading system

Letter grades provide an easy means to generalize a student's performance. They can be more effective than qualitative evaluations in situations where "right" or "wrong" answers can be easily quantified, such as an algebra exam, but alone may not provide a student with enough feedback in regards to an assessment like a written paper (which is much more subjective).

Although a written analysis of each individual student's work may be a more effective form of feedback, there exists the argument that students and parents are unlikely to read the feedback, and that teachers do not have the time to write such an analysis. There is precedence for this type of evaluation system however, in Saint Ann's School in New York City, an arts-oriented private school that does not have a letter grading system. Instead, teachers write anecdotal reports for each student. This method of evaluation focuses on promoting learning and improvement, rather than the pursuit of a certain letter grade in a course. For better or for worse however, these types of programs constitute a minority in the United States, and though the experience may be better for the student, most institutions still use a fairly standard letter grading system that students will have to adjust to. The time investment that this type of evaluation method requires of teachers/professors is likely not viable on university campuses with hundreds of students per course. As such, although there are other high schools such as Sanborn High School2 that approach grading in a more qualitative way, it remains to be seen whether such grading methods can be scalable. Until then, more generalized forms of grading like the letter grading system are unlikely to be entirely replaced. However, many educators already try to create an environment that limits the role that grades play in motivating students. One could argue that a combination of these two systems would likely be the most realistic, and effective way to provide a more standardized evaluation of students, while promoting learning.

  1. Upton, Emily. 2014. "Here's Why You Never Got An 'E' on your School Report Card."
  2. Noe-Payne, Mallory. 2015. "No grades, no problem: How one high school is transforming learning."