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How do colleges distinguish between inflated grades?

collegegal100collegegal100 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
My school system has rampant grade inflation- a student can get an 89.6% one quarter and a 79.6% the next quarter and still get an A for the semester. I consistently gets As every quarter, but am wondering how colleges will be able to tell between me and the students who get half Bs but the same A for each semester. Does anyone know? I have decent extracurriculars and test scores but I hope it’s not only reliant on that...
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Replies to: How do colleges distinguish between inflated grades?

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,444 Senior Member
    They can't really tell the difference. That is one reason standardized test scores remain important in admissions for many colleges.
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 669 Member
    That's where teachers LOCs and standardized tests like PSAT, SAT ACT come in play, and AP scores are another check if the school offers them.
  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 Registered User Posts: 1,492 Senior Member
    Test scores play a big role in detecting grade inflation. However, the school profile is also very telling. If 70% of kids have a high GPA, that's a hint. If the school has a lot of A students with low average test scores, that's a red flag.

    Ask your guidance counselor for a copy of your school profile (if it isn't on your school web page).

    If you're worried, take the AP exams and/or SAT subject tests. High scores on those may help.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,561 Senior Member
    @collegegal100 a student can get an 89.6% one quarter and a 79.6% the next quarter and still get an A for the semester.

    Your school profile that goes out to colleges with your transcript might explain how grading works.

    However, the scenario you present is pretty common at my kids' high school. A kid can get an A one quarter (quarter grades don't go on the transcript, only semester), and a B the next, but there is a final exam that always counts for quite a lot and if that's an A can bring the whole thing up to A. That final only counts for the semester grade and isn't taken into account in either quarter grade (which is really just informational - the final grade is the semester and that's an average of the two plus the final).

    Is that not the case at your school? You don't have semester finals that count for a lot of your semester grade? If you do, perhaps you are not understanding the full picture of some of your classmates' grades.
  • collegegal100collegegal100 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    @OHMomof2 They stopped doing semester exams a few years ago and instead do quarterly tests that count for 10% of your grade. Once again, rampant grade inflation...
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,561 Senior Member
    So your transcripts sent to colleges show quarter grades, or semester grades? @collegegal100
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 75,364 Senior Member
    Standardized tests based on subject matter (i.e. SAT subject and AP tests) can be more standardized measures of what students learned in various schools, although they are not that commonly used for admission (though more so at the most selective colleges). The more common SAT and ACT are based on some types of subject matter, though more limited than the range of subject matter in SAT subject and AP tests.
  • RiversiderRiversider Registered User Posts: 399 Member
    edited April 11
    This OP is the reason standardised tests are needed. Grades or GPA from any school doesn’t tell you much unless they are supported by rank, SAT, ACT, SAT subject tests, AP, IB scores.

    This is the reason private schools are against class rank, AP courses and standardised testing. Ambiguity gives their students unfair advantage.
  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 1,434 Senior Member
    I totally disagree with @riversider 's second paragraph. Ambiguity is NOT advantageous. Some very elite private HS with strong brand recognition can afford to not offer AP courses. Most other private schools can't afford to do that and need the outside metric of strong AP results to market their school to prospective parents. Those very elite privates that can afford to not offer AP courses avoid them because they find the AP curriculum to be too confining. I think you'd see, though, that even though those schools don't offer AP courses many of their students still take the exams and do quite well.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 31,368 Senior Member
    It's not just about grades and scores. Yes, top scores can back up top grades. But there's so much more involved in showing you have the 'right stuff' for your own college targets. Your other choices matter, too, other things that are within your control. The whole of it, for top holistics.

    Poor scores, paired with top grades, don't necessarily mean grade inflation. In themselves, they can represent less focus on mastering the tests. A student centered issue.

    And of course, many top high schools eliminated AP by choice. They feel their curriculum is rigorous enough, as it is, without needing some CB supplied courses.
  • 1stTimeThruMom1stTimeThruMom Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    @collegegal100 You’ve raised a very good question, collegegal100 Our local school system (MCPS) sounds exactly like the school you described! From what I have observed here in Maryland, the grade inflation helps to assure high GPA students admissions to our excellent state flagship, UMCP. UMCP appears to have a very strict GPA cut off, with this year rumored to be at 4.3. I *think* it is similar at other state flagships. You may find it more difficult to gain admission to certain private colleges, which review more holistically and are probably aware of the grade inflation issues.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,269 Senior Member
    In the end, though, focusing on whether it's easier for others or whether it's unfair that others get the same grade as you is counterproductive.

    Everyone should focus foremost on whether they are the best version of themselves they can be.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,561 Senior Member
    edited April 12
    a student can get an 89.6% one quarter and a 79.6% the next quarter and still get an A for the semester

    I'm still questioning how this can happen. TBH I don't believe it, unless there are unstated factors at play (like a high stakes final exam that can move a grade above 90).

    Or I suppose it's possible that an "A" at this school means anything above 84.75%, in which case that info should be in the school's profile. Or teachers have a lot of latitude to give whatever grade they want, independent of the average number grades of homework, exams or whatever else goes into the grade expressed as a % of 100.

    I feel like important info is missing from the provided description.

    And FWIW I agree with @PurpleTitan . Run your own race and spend less time worrying about the grades other kids are getting.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,782 Senior Member
    I agree with OHMomof2, I can't tell if there is rampant grade inflation or not. There's no empirical reason why weighting a final exam a lot or a little is a sign of grade inflation. Without knowing what counts as an A, I have no idea how what looks to me like a B+ and C+ would average out to an A.

    My kid younger did manage to eke out B's in Latin because the finals always included a lot of mythology, but the regular class quizzes rarely did.
  • bear19bear19 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Not OP, but the description is correct for Montgomery County, MD. They round up to an 80 and a 90 and then the year end grade is based on the semester that is higher.... a 90. A 90 is an A = 4.0. It is ridiculous.
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