How to Appeal an Exam Grade in College

Appealing your grade after class risks outside interruptions from others during the appeal.
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You thought that you did well on your exam, but your professor didn't agree. You can accept the instructor's exam grade or you can make a case for a grade change. Teachers aren't perfect and do make mistakes, but students also misunderstand exam directions and fail to meet the professor's grading standards. Preparing a grade appeal requires some preparation before making an appointment for a meeting with your instructor to argue your case.

1 Review Standards

Review your answers and compare them with the possible alternatives using your class notes and assigned texts. Make notes of how you directly address the exam questions to use in your test defense. Use your class notes and assigned texts to find correct answers for objective questions. This review process helps you evaluate your test answers with the possible responses your teacher might expect from students. Compare your exam with answers from other students, but avoid mentioning the exam-sharing session with your teacher. Looking at other tests helps you see a range of possible correct exam responses.

2 Prepare Your Case

Create a written list of reasons for a grade change using the review materials. A formal list helps you remember your key points during the appeal meeting. Your instructor may ask you for a written appeal, and the list gives you a formal outline to make your position clear. Highlight your main points on the list and then look for specific examples from your exam to prove your points. For instance, show how you answered all of the elements of the exam question, and then cite specific examples from your test as the defense for your position.

3 Practice the Appeal

Make an appeal to your teacher by presenting only your major arguments. Focus on key ideas, and avoid explaining small details related to each point. This helps your teacher understand the main reasons for your grade challenge. Practice your appeal in front of a friend or family member to perfect your skills in condensing your arguments into clear points. Use your review notes as a guide during the practice, and concentrate speaking in a conversational way to establish your position. Santa Monica College suggests taking a respectful tone in making your case for a grade change to improve communication with your teacher.

4 Present Your Case

The University College at Illinois State University recommends making a formal appointment when meeting with your professor about an important issue such as challenging an exam grade. Your practice session gives you an idea of the approximate time to make your points, so ask your teacher for an appointment that will give you enough time to present your case. Instructors ask college students to assume responsibility for coursework, so avoid bringing friends, classmates or family members to the grade-appeal meeting. If your teacher finds your appeal justified and changes your grade, also avoid sharing this information with class members.

Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.