Bell Curve Marking

This month I discovered a thing called bell curve marking. When I first went through and got my first diploma the marking was black and white. You got the mark that you earned. You studied and passed or sometimes you studied and failed. You always aimed high because most exams a pass was 80%. 79% sounds great but was actually a failing mark.

This Fall term I decided to take a Marketing class and a required Business Math course. I knew I would be able to do well in the marketing class but I knew the math would be difficult. Throw in way more time at work then I expected as well as a toddler who decided not to nap anymore these courses ended up being much more difficult then I had hoped they would be.

I had settled on I would accept anything over a passing grade in the math course. Despite my efforts I was achieving 50s on my text book assignments, squeaking out 60s on tests and even failing the last test with a miserable 30%. I knew the last test was going to be bad because it was on a week I worked 6 days and was getting 3-4 hours sleep. When I sat down to do it I just flew through it just wanting it to be done. I could have taken advantage of many offers for tutoring however again trying to have someone teaching you something while your toddler does everything in his power to get your attention is almost impossible. I spent several days battling this balance of getting homework done and giving him the attention he needed.

I knew I could get an easy 20% for labs which I could do over and over and they would only count the highest mark and lessons which you had to do anyways.

Then this concept called bell curve marking came in. I had to research it and simply stated there are many different was of marking to ensure all students fall within a specific curve. You also for simple explanation sake could consider it a quota, a certain amount have to pass, a certain amount have to fail and the rest fall in between. If you want to fully understand it Google it.

The long and short of it is that I calculated my final grade to be in the low 60s. Which I was fine with, it was a pass. It would be a little blemish on my transcript and if I had to retake it later to qualify for a designation I was willing to do that. The math in this course is not math I would use on a daily basis in my future career. The text book was also poorly written and just overall was a bad course.

Today the marks have been updated and if all my calculations are correct (which I question based on how I retained nothing from this course) I will finish with an 80%

1/3 of the class did fail the final test. Apparently this is not good so with some manipulation and taking some questions out we finish with only 1 person failing and it wasn’t me. Somehow I achieved a high 70s on this test. I couldn’t even tell you now what it was about.

I sit here now with mixed emotions. I don’t feel as if I deserve 80 in the course. It is not a true reflection of my knowledge on the subject, however I am glad that an 80 will be on my transcript.

I now realize why people coming out of college are feeling so entitled as well as have unrealistic views of life. You can’t always be awesome at everything. I am horrible at algebra or complicated math, but with this type of marking it isn’t a true reflection of abilities or knowledge. If you look at my mark you would assume I was good at math. I’m sure many of these people think regardless of how much effort is put it they will still pass.

Failure is a part of life, unfortunately many people aren’t learning this lesson.


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