# About grades

Your final grade for this course is computed through an arcane process of fiddling around with weights and algorithms until I get results that I (not necessarily you) feel are fair and reasonably generous.

# Exams

Your exam grades are normalized to a z-score. The z-score is:

(your_grade - average_grade)/(standard_deviation)

This compensates for different means and standard deviations on the exams. The mean is the class average and the standard deviation measures how wide the grade distribution spreads out. A z-score of 0 means you're at the exact class average. A z-score of 1 means you are one standard deviation above the class average; that's about the 84% percentile. A z-score of -1 means you are one standard deviation below the class average; that's about the 16th percentile. See here to read up more about standard scoring if you're curious. From the z-score, a continuous-scale GPA is computed. All exams carry the same weight and the lowest exam grade (based on the z-score) is dropped.

For example, suppose a student gets a 58 on exam 2, where the mean grade is 48.8 and the standard deviation is 18.5. Her z-score is (58-48.8)/18.5 = 0.497. This is equivalent to a grade of 81.5 on exam 1, where the mean grade was 74 and the standard deviation was 15.1. Hence, if the same student got a score of 75 on exam 1, the 75 would be the lower of the two grades.

To get an idea of how your grade measures up, compute your z-score and add 3.1 to it to get a GPA for that exam grade (disclaimer: I may change this factor). Using the above example, the grade of 58 for exam 2 corresponds to a GPA of approximately 3.6.

Here are the mean grades and standard deviations for the exams:

Exam 1 | Exam 2 | Exam 3 | |
---|---|---|---|

Average | 73.7 | 67.6 | |

Std. dev. | 13.5 | 14.8 |

# Assignments

Homework assignments are not normalized to mean grades but stand on their own. They are normalized only to the maximum number of points allotted for that assignment. For example, a grade of 8 where the maximum score is 10 is identical to a grade of 80 where the maximum score is 100. Programming assignments count for substantially more than written assignments.

# Quizzes

Quiz grades are also not normalized. The lowest quiz grade (e.g., a missing quiz) will be dropped. Others will be averaged together.

# Final grade

Two sets of scrores are computed from the exam, quiz, and assignment grades: one allots a greater weight for exams and the other places a greater weight on the assignments. Of these two scores, the greater one is picked for your grade.

Two factors may override your final grade:

- Cheating:
- If you are caught cheating in any way, I will assign you a grade of F. Your actions will also be reported to the department and to your dean.
- Not doing programming assignments:
- If you do not turn in programming assignments or turn in truly pathetic submissions (that do not come close to working) you will not get a grade exceeding a D.