How to Contest a Low Grade in College

By Brenda on October 6th, 2011


At least one time during your college career, may you get a grade that you think is undeserved and flat out wrong. If this happens to you, do you have any recourse?  Many students never question the grades they receive and think everything on their record is written in stone.  While this may be the case at some schools, not all think this way.

Below are some ways that you may formally contest a grade that you disagree with.  You may not get the answer you want, but it is worth a try.

Determine if the grade is worth challenging

First of all, you must determine if the grade is worth challenging.  Most employers do not care what your GPA was in college, but graduate schools may.  Ask yourself if the grade is crucial to your future goals, and if so, it may be worth contesting.

If you plan to go to medical school, law school or any other competitive graduate school program, challenging a low grade is beneficial and sometimes necessary for your career.  Also, if you have a scholarship that requires your GPA to be a certain number, than challenging the grade is a must.

Compile the evidence

Do not storm into your professor’s office with only a case full of emotion.  This will get you nowhere fast.  It is better to gather all of the evidence on your behalf to present it in a tactful and persuasive way.  Examine your syllabus and take into account class participation, attendance, assignments turned in on time, and copies of all of your papers and projects. Have everything at your disposal with an answer for each and every possible case against you.

Create a case

Now that you have taken into consideration all of the evidence to support your case, it is time to create one.  What is your stance?  What are you asking for? It is important to know what you want before you have the discussion with your instructor.

One of the most important things to do prior to discussing the case with your professor is to do the math.  Most professors and instructors calculate grades based on the math they have done.  Look for errors or discrepancies that support your demands for a higher grade.  Once you have everything in order it is time to present your case.

Know who to talk to

In most cases, a professor or instructor is the key person to talk to when challenging your grade.  Most professors calculate the grades themselves and are therefore willing to discuss contesting the grade. Be sure to bring with you to the meeting all required work completed for the class.  Remain positive and avoid any finger-pointing or accusations.  Focus on how much you received from the class and the positive aspects of what the professor taught.

While there is no guarantee that the professor will change the grade, it is always worth a try.  In the event that the instructor will not budge, you may be able to discuss the case with the department head.  Be prepared to go through your case again and remain positive and upbeat about the process.


Category: Degrees,Other and General