Grading Policy

What follows is the grading policy for JD students. LL.M. students should scroll down further for the grading policy for that program. Students receive both a letter and number grade – for example, 85B. Each number grade corresponds to a specific letter grade (i.e., numbers between 93 and 100 correspond to a letter grade of A.). Further, each letter grade has its own point value on a 4.0 scale.

Letter Grade Numerical Grade Grade Point Value (assigned to the letter grade)
A 93-100 4.0
A- 90-92 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 83-86 3.0
B- 80-82 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 70-76 2.0
D 65-69 1.0
E 60-64 0.0

The college uses the Grade Point Average (GPA) from the letter grades to ascertain Academic Standing, Dismissal, Probation and Readmission as detailed in Chapter 6 in the Faculty Rules. A student is in good standing if he or she has an average GPA of 2.0 or better.

Students also have a Numerical Average, which is calculated by averaging the Numerical Grade. For this average, first year courses are weighted  at 50 percent compared to upper-level courses, regardless of when the courses are taken. This Numerical Average is used to establish class rankings. Class rankings are computed after the second semester ends and all grades are in. Individual class ranks are disclosed confidentially to the students in the top 5 percent of the class. The remainder of the class is not given individual class ranks. Instead, the college provides a class ranking information sheet for each class that shows the numerical grade average range for certain percentage ranges in the top half of the class. Class ranking information sheets are found here.

What is the Grading System?

Anonymity   Some classes, such as seminars and clinics, require that assessment of students’ work  be done on a name-identified basis. However, in most classes, and all of those with exams, assessment is made anonymously. At the beginning of each semester, the administration sends exam numbers to each student. The first four numbers are reserved for quizzes, papers or mid-term examinations and students will use those numbers as instructed by their professor. The last number, identified as the “FINAL” number is used for that semester’s final exams. Professors do not have access to exam number rosters until they submit exam grades. In some cases, professors may consider factors in computing a final grade that require the identity of the student, such as class participation or attendance. In such situations, the professor can turn in grade adjustments by name to the Registrar who then makes the change. Or the professor can make the adjustment after viewing a list of exam scores by name.

In rare situations, students who experience serious health problems immediately prior to or during an exam period find it necessary to delay taking an exam until after grades must be turned in. In these circumstances, anonymity may not be possible.

Grade Distribution Policy   In an effort to treat all students fairly, the Moritz College of Law has a long-standing grade distribution policy. The underlying reasons for the policy are to promote a common faculty-wide grading standard and to reduce instances in which different professors use different grading standards.

The college’s policy suggests the following grade distribution to the teachers of first-year courses:

  • A’s – 30 percent
  • B’s – 60 percent
  • C’s – 10 percent
  • D’s and E’s – Not more than 4 percent with the direction that a D or E should be given only when inferior performance is clearly demonstrated

For second- and third-year courses, the grade distribution is based on the past average letter grade performance of the students as a whole who registered for a particular course. A professor receives a grade distribution for the students enrolled in his or her course that semester.

There are no names on the grade distribution, so the profile in no way focuses on an individual student. For example, an Evidence professor might receive a distribution stating that, based on past performance, 20 students would be expected to receive A’s; 30 students would be expected to receive B’s; and 15 students would be expected to receive C’s

The professor then uses the profile as a tool to assess whether grade distributions in that class roughly reflect distributions in other classes. The profile is a suggested tool and is not mandatory. Professors combine the profile with past years’ experience grading to form an accurate picture of how the class grade distribution should look.

Because the profile is such a successful tool, most professors do not deviate from it in more than minor ways. In fact, to ensure fair and standard grading across the student body, the Associate Dean for Faculty reviews the grade distributions for each course and makes inquiries when there are major deviations from the suggested profile.

Professors are advised to give the profile more weight in larger classes in which its guidance would seem to have more validity.  In  courses where professors have more discretion to deviate from the profile (i.e., seminars, clinical/practica offerings, and classes whose method of evaluation is, in the judgment of the Associate Dean for Faculty, primarily the same as seminars or clinics), professors are advised that the number of A’s should not exceed the greater of (a) the profile percentage of A’s or (b)(1) in the case of seminars, 70 percent; (2) in the case of clinics and practica, 75 percent; and (3) in the similarly evaluated courses, 70 percent. Professors determine the grade distribution of A’s within the applicable ranged based on their evaluations of individual student performance. The Associate Dean for Faculty will review the grades with these faculty-approved ranges in mind.

What Happens Between the Time My Professor Grades the Exam and I Receive My Grades?   In the usual case, after a professor evaluates all the exams, he or she will turn in the raw scores to the registrar. The Registrar will compute how the grades might be distributed, given the class’s grade distribution. The professor receives this information and evaluates it.

At this point, everything is still anonymous. If the professor feels the overall distribution is too low or too high, he or she has the discretion to make adjustments as appropriate. The changes are given to the Registrar again and the distribution is reconfigured.

Finally, the grades are matched up with student names and given to the Associate Dean for Faculty, who, after approving the grades, gives the grades back to the Registrar for release to the professor and to the students. Grades are available to students on-line.

Grading Standards for LL. M. Students

LL.M. students are graded on a separate scale from J.D. students and are not awarded numerical grades. Except in satisfactory/unsatisfactory courses, where a student receives a grade of S or U, LL.M. students are awarded the following letter grades (shown with their corresponding point value)

Letter Grade Grade Point Value (assigned to the letter grade)
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
D 1.0
E 0.0

For LL.M. students, a grade of C or lower indicates unacceptable work. LL.M. students must maintain a 2.3 GPA to be in good academic standing and to graduate. LL.M. students should refer to Faculty Rule 3.09 (H) for information regarding probation, dismissal and reinstatement.

The performance of LL.M. students is not considered in determining grades for J.D. students.  LL.M. students receive exam numbers in the 900 range and their exams are graded separately from J.D. students. LL.M. students are not included when creating the grade distribution profile for upper-level courses, nor are grades for LL.M. students included when evaluating  grade distributions, either under the first-year curve or the upper-level profile, for J.D. students.