How to Write a "Re-Evaluation of Grades" Letter

Email is a more efficient way to contact your instructor.
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Chances are at one point you have received a grade from an instructor that you did not agree with. If you have solid evidence that your grade is incorrect, you should contact the instructor and ask for a grade re-evaluation. If your inquiry is made in a respectful manner, most instructors welcome the opportunity to review your grades with you to determine if an error occurred. Because the registrar processes grades quickly, there is usually a limited time to appeal or change a grade. For this reason, you should send your inquiry as an email rather than as a letter.

Open your campus email. You should use campus email when you contact your instructor because he will be more likely to receive the email than if you send it from your personal account. Many campus email systems have stringent spam filters that do not allow outside email from commercial providers into the system.

Write a detailed subject line. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: "Grade question for English 4360." This subject line is clear and identifies the topic as well as the course.

Begin the email by typing "Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. (Name)" followed by a colon. If you are not sure whether your instructor has a Ph.D. or not, check the faculty directory. Do not guess; many professors become very irritated when students call them "Ms." or "Mr." instead of "Dr." During a grade appeal is not the time to get this incorrect.

Skip a line, and start the email. Begin right away by telling your instructor that you feel that your grade is incorrect. In this instance, you want to avoid active language because it highlights the agent and sounds accusatory. For example, "You made an error when you calculated my grade" sounds harsh and may offend your instructor, even if it is true. In this case, you might use passive voice instead; for example, "I believe that an error might have been made with my grade." The message is the same, but the second example is appropriately deferential.

Explain why, in detail, that you believe your grade was calculated incorrectly. If your grades on your assignments do not add up to the grade that you received at the end of the class, explain that in detail. Keep a respectful tone, because you may be wrong about your grade; even if the instructor did make a mistake, he is only human and mistakes happen.

Thank the instructor for his time and remind him of your contact information. Close the letter by typing "Sincerely," or "Respectfully," and typing your name.

  • Proofread your email carefully and make sure that you haven't used any instant messaging shorthand, such as writing "U" instead of "you."
  • If you do not receive a reply within two days, call the instructor or visit him during his office hours to check on your grade.

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.