U.S. Academic Culture


Grading is not standardized across universities. Each university course typically has a syllabus that explains how students’ grades are calculated. For example, class participation and group work are often a large part of students’ overall class grade. Generally, missing class and in-person group work, submitting homework late, and missing project deadlines or tests result in a lower grade unless the student has planned in advance with their instructor. If students believe they will not meet an assignment deadline or miss an exam, they must check with their instructor in advance to request an extension or make-up. Communicating early with instructors is important in establishing a professional, positive relationship with them.

Some instructors calculate individual or entire course grades on a curve. In this way, instructors make the class grades more balanced. For example, if the entire class scores low on an assignment, the professor could add points to each student’s assignment. Likewise, if the entire class is scoring high, the professor could subtract points for students’ scores so that the overall class grades form a more uniform distribution curve.