GRADE REVIEW DO’S AND DON’TS
You may have noticed that final grades for the semester have been released today. Some people may be celebrating at the bot bar, others may have a box of tissues at the ready. If your part of the latter, then you may want to consider reviewing your grade.
The QUT Guild’s Student Assist Team help hundreds of students do this every year and we want to help you too. Whether this is your first or hundredth time disputing your grade, you should keep reading. We go through some of the common mistakes we see when it comes to these applications. Before we delve into that, let’s start with the basics first.
HOW TO REVIEW YOUR GRADE
There are three steps involved in the grade review process.
Step 1: The informal consultation
The first thing you should do is book an appointment with your Unit Coordinator. Go through your assessment with them and ask them to explain why you received the marks you did. You may find that you understand why you received that grade for your unit before lodging a formal grade review.
Step 2: The school level review
If you’re still unsatisfied with your unit grade, then this is when we would recommend you consider seeking a review of your grade by your school. This is the first step of the formal grade review process and this is where we see students makes the most mistakes in their applications (we’ll get to that a bit later).
To initiate this step, you will need to submit an ‘RGS form’ to HiQ within 10 working days of the release of final grades for the unit. This form can be found under ‘Student forms’ in your HiQ. Simply search for ‘RGS form’ and it will automatically display itself.
Whatever you do, make sure you do not miss this deadline. Every year, we see students who submit the application too late because they were spending so much time trying to initiate Step 1 or could not submit because of unexpected circumstances beyond their control. If your Unit Coordinator hasn’t replied to your email about having a meeting with them and the deadline for the RGS form is fast approaching, our advice is to skip Step 1 and jump to Step 2. If you know that you won’t be able to make the deadline on time because of some other extenuating circumstance, make sure you call HiQ and ask them if you are able to extend the deadline to apply. Once the deadline has passed, it’s unfortunately gone for good.
Another thing to be aware of is that the RGS form will cost you nothing if you received failing grades, but it will cost you $20 if you are reviewing a passing grade. This money is refunded to you if a higher grade is awarded as an outcome of this review.
Now, for the most important part. Attached to this form, you will need to provide a written statement justifying the need for a grade review. This is where we see the most mistakes.
A good personal statement will make a case to the Head of School that the assessment in the unit met the requirements for higher graded criteria according to the criteria sheet. It will link the assessment back to the criteria and will make good arguments as to why a higher grade should have been awarded. For example, if criteria 1 says you need to do ‘A, B and C for a grade of 6’ and you believe you did this but only received a grade of 4, you need to state an argument like this in your application: “I deserve a grade of 6 for this criteria because I did ‘A, B and C’ on page 4 second paragraph etc…”
A bad application will provide no – or very weak – justification as to why they deserve a higher mark. It will not explain that the assessment met the criteria for a higher grade, or it will do so very superficially. Worse still, those students may say one or more of the following things in their statements which QUT warn will result in immediate refusal of any review application:
- “One of my assignments wasn’t marked when it should have been”. For one reason or another, one of your assignment may not have been marked. Some students can’t submit their work by the due date, or a student may have uploaded the wrong link, etc… Whatever the reason, refrain from mentioning this in your school level review application. QUT advise that the best thing to do is to talk to you Unit Coordinator about this (better still, talk to the QUT Guild Advocacy Officers during the semester as soon as you realise there is a problem with your assessment so we can try and help!).
- “I was so close to receiving a higher mark!”. This is the most common thing we read in these applications, but we advise that you steer clear from writing this – or anything along these lines. If you were 1% or 2% away from a higher mark, they won’t go through the whole grade review process just for that. There needs to be evidence that there was a substantial amount of marks unaccounted for, and you need to show them where in your assignment your work should have been awarded these missing marks. They won't give you extra marks just because you were close to another grade.
- “I put so much effort into the assessment, so I believe I deserved a higher grade.” Whilst it is always disappointing getting a grade that is lower than expected despite all the effort you put in, this is not enough to justify a grade review. QUT need hard objective evidence that the assessment met the criteria for a higher grade. Effort is a subjective factor that QUT will not consider.
- “I only got this mark because I overloaded units this semester and did 5 units, instead of my usual 4 units.” Overloading units is a tough gig – and it’s something we do not recommend any student do. You have less time to work on assignments so the quality of your work will be compromised In QUT’s eyes, this is a risk you take when you sign up for 5 units, so the consequences of overloading is not their problem.
- “I didn’t do as well as I would have liked because of special circumstances (e.g. health issues, personal issues, etc…) that impacted my assessment.” If you want the University to take into account any circumstances that have impacted your performance, then you will need to submit a special consideration application. A school level review is not the place to request any concessions and the University specifically state on QUT Virtual that using these circumstances to justify a review of grade will result in no review at all.
- “I had a lot of issues with the learning outcomes or the method of assessment”. These complaints should be taken up directly with the Unit Coordinator as soon as you can. The grade review is not the place to list all your gripes with the unit, it’s learning outcomes or assessment methods that you need to state. They may be valid, but they won’t justify a need for independent review of the assessment.
- “My friend did the same thing in the assignment as me, but they passed, and I didn’t!” We read this in applications quite a lot, but this will not justify a grade review. Firstly, your friend may have received a higher mark for having satisfied a certain criterion that you didn’t. Secondly, all marking is moderated. This means that the university check to make sure that all markers are consistent across board. If your grades differ from your friends, it won’t be because there has been no moderation. Thirdly, looking at or accessing your friends assignment is collusion and is a breach of QUT’s academic integrity policy. The following is a situation that we see occur quite often:
If Student A sends a soft copy of their assignment to Student B to compare them after it’s been graded, Student A has no control over what Student B does with that assignment. Student B may choose to send Student A’s assignment to Student C who is enrolled in the same unit the following semester. Student C may then plagiarise that assignment and all three of them will get into a lot of trouble. We’ve seen it happen before and you can trust us when we say that it’s not a pleasant road to go down.
- “I only failed this assignment as a penalty for misconduct, but I think this is unfair and harsh”. This only applies to students who have lost grades for breaching QUT’s Student Code of Conduct (for things like collusion and plagiarism). If you are unhappy with the penalty that was applied to your assignment/unit grade, then you need to appeal this by submitting an ‘Appeal against penalty for misconduct request’. A school level review is not the right avenue.
If the Head of School reads your application and thinks a review is justified, the University will send your assignment to an independent marker. It will be marked as though it was never marked to begin with. But beware: the grade won’t automatically increase just because it has been independently reviewed. There is always a real risk that you may receive a lower grade or no change to your grade at all. You should receive the outcome within 10 business days.
Step 3: The faculty level review
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your school level review, you can appeal to the Faculty for review. You must submit an ‘RGF form’ to HiQ within 5 working days of receiving the outcome of the school level review. This form can be found under ‘Student forms’ in your HiQ. Simply search for the ‘RGF form’ and it will automatically display itself. Once again, do not miss this deadline and if you think you will, call HiQ to ask for an extension.
Submitting this form will cost you nothing if you received failing grades, but it will cost you $30 if you are reviewing a passing grade. Just as the school level review, this money is refunded to you if a higher grade is awarded as an outcome of this review.
You will need to resubmit the original application that you handed in at school level and you need to write a personal statement explaining why the outcome of that review was unsatisfactory. You can add more evidence at this stage. We suggest including anything that is relevant. Your application will be forwarded to a Faculty Review Committee who will reconsider the assessment item and make sure that the process the Head of School took at the school level was satisfactory. They are not undertaking the task of deciding whether your assessment is to be sent for independent review like they did at the school level. Their job is to check that the Head of School gave your application due consideration and determination when reviewing it. You will normally receive notification of the outcome within 15 days of submitting it.
If you need help applying for a grade review, get in touch with the QUT Guild Advocacy Team for further support and assistance.
Should I review my grade?
Now that you know how to dispute your grade, the next question is deciding whether disputing it is a good idea. In some situations, it is, in others, it’s best not to poke a sleeping bear.
For example, let’s say you’re a first-year student and you got a grade of 3 for a unit, with a mark of 41/100 overall. We would recommend you review your grade because you don’t really have much to lose. Your grade may get pumped up to a 4 (which won’t be easy here, but not impossible), or your grade could be reduced to 2. If you’ve already failed the unit, then it may be worth hedging all your bets.
Now, let’s imagine an identical scenario, but this time, you are not a first-year student, you’re in the final semester of your degree. In most cases, not all, a student in this position would be eligible for a supplementary assessment (aka. a ‘supp’). This would be either an assignment or an exam, and if you get 50% or more in that assessment item, your final grade is bumped up from a 3 to a 4. Check out QUT Virtual to find out if you are eligible after final grades are released. If you are, we would advise that you choose a supp over a grade review if it’s an option. You have a high chance of losing your right to do a supp if you start the grade review process, and the chance of your grade getting bumped up from a low 3 to a 4 is slim.
If you’re not sure whether you should lodge a grade review or not, have a chat to the QUT Guild Advocacy Team and we would be more than happy to talk to you about your options.
Always remember that you have the right to review your grade according to QUT’s policy. There is a three-step process that you need to follow should you wish to go down that road, and there are many mistakes we see students make along the way. If you get stuck, get in touch with QUT Guild’s Student Assist Team for guidance.[AW9] We have been down this road hundreds of times and we will gladly help students navigate that path another hundred times over.