Will I get grades at the UW, just like in high school?
Yes, you'll get grades, but the type may be different from what you're used to. For example, you may have received A, B, C grades in high school. UW uses numerical grades, starting with 4.0 as the top grade and 0.0 the lowest. We also have pass-fail options. Everything is described at our website on the
Is there a set standard for assigning grades at the UW?
No. Each instructor determines what standards to use in a particular class. Some instructors may give a 4.0 grade to all students they think have done excellent work in the class, even if that's a substantial percent of the entire class. Other instructors grade on a bell curve, which means that more students end up with a grade in the middle, while a smaller percent receive either a very high or very low grade. The course syllabus, an outline of what's assigned and expected for the quarter, should be distributed the first week, and will include information on grading standards in the course.
How important are grades?
It depends on how you intend to use them. If you plan to attend graduate or professional school, you'll need high grades (among other things) to get into better schools. Chances are, though, your future won't hinge on your getting a 3.83 rather than a 3.62 GPA.
What's a GPA?
Grade Point Average. If you take three 5-credit courses and get a 3.6 in one, a 2.8 in one, and a 3.2 in the third, your GPA for that quarter will be 3.20. Grades are weighted by the number of credits in the course, so that a 2-credit course affects your GPA less than a 5-credit course. See
Computation of GPA
and our GPA Calculator
for more information.
How often are grades given?
Grades that appear on your UW record are given at the end of each quarter. Within the quarter, each instructor may assign grades for papers, midterm exams, class participation, etc. The syllabus should show how various grades will be used to assign the final grade for the quarter. In one course, you may have a single final exam that determines your entire grade for the quarter, while in another course you could have weekly assignments or "quizzes" which, along with a midterm and a final exam, will add up to 100% of the final grade.
How will I find out what my grades are?
Your grades will appear in MyUW about a week after your final examinations.
Will I be dropped from the UW if my grades are too low?
As long as you maintain at least a 2.00 GPA, you won't be in danger of being dropped. Even if you don't do well your first quarter, you'll have two more quarters to improve before you're dropped from school. For further information about what happens if your GPA does fall below 2.00, see
and the Help!
section of this website.
Is there any way to avoid the constant pressure of grades?
There are two ways.
- The first is internal. Instead of worrying incessantly about what grade you might get in a specific class, concentrate on learning the material and getting help if you need it. Also, in your first few quarters at the UW you should make a real effort to discover what academic area interests you the most, instead of concentrating on what you think you need to do to get a job after college — or what your parents think you need to do. In the long run, you'll be much more successful in college, and after college, if you discover what you're interested in and take classes related to that interest.
- The second is external, tied to the UW grading system. You can take a few courses on what we call the "Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory" (S/NS) grading option, and they will not be calculated into your GPA. Be sure to see an adviser before deciding on this option. You can't take any courses you want to count toward requirements this way, and only a limited number of S/NS credits may count toward a degree. Also, some graduate and professional schools don't look favorably on S/NS grades.
What kind of help can I get with my homework?
UW offers many kinds of academic assistance, including writing centers, study centers, and study-skills workshops. For more, check out the Help!
section of this website.
Once I'm in a class, am I stuck with it no matter how hard it is or how far behind I get?
No. You can "drop" a class, but this should never be done lightly for several reasons. First, there may be other options (e.g., talk to the professor and/or TA; change to S/NS grading
; ask for an Incomplete
; petition for a hardship withdrawal
, etc.). Second, you are restricted to one annual drop
per year beginning week of of the quarter. Third, there may be financial penalties if you go below full-time status. Fourth, although a drop or two will not affect your chances for graduate or professional school, if you make a habit of dropping classes you might have to explain it later. Before exercising this option, be sure to see an adviser and/or read over the
Course Drop Policy
What happens if I can't finish the quarter for whatever reason?
You can withdraw for the quarter
(unless the quarter is already over, which is too late). Dropping out for the quarter is not the same as dropping an individual class, and has different implications, so always discuss this option with an adviser. The adviser can help you plan how to withdraw from school with the fewest complications (such as failing grades) and also show you how to get back in as soon as you're ready to return. If you are withdrawing because of a hardship, you should consider petitioning for a hardship withdrawal