Have you received a grade and believe there may be an error?
The SFSS Advocate has produced a guide outlining how to approach a potential grade appeal situation.
If you have attempted to resolve the issue through dialogue with the instructor but have not received a response, or do not feel that your concerns were addressed by the instructor, the Grading and Reconsideration of Grades Policy states that the next step is for a student to present in writing their request and supporting reasons to the Chair.
A few things to note if you are at this stage of the grade reconsideation process:
- Some departments and faculties have created department-specific grade reconsideration forms and processes. If you are considering submitting a grade reconsideration request to a Chair or Director you should first meet with a Departmental or Faculty Academic Advisor to discuss your next steps.
- A list of Chairs and Directors is available and includes names and contact information
- A student is expected to reach out to the instructor within 10 days of receiving a grade if they have concerns, and reach out to the Chair within 60 days of receiving the grade.
How to write an effective grade appeal letter
A couple of things to keep in mind before you get started:
- Just because you follow the instructions or use the template, this does not guarantee a successful grade appeal. The basis for a successful grade appeal is always having a reasonable basis. However, as with any essay you write as a student, a well written and solidly argued appeal letter will increase your chances of reconsideration.
- You should approach your grade appeal letter like an essay. There is no limit on how many pages you use but it’s always a good idea to try and keep your letter to 1 or 2 pages.
- The first thing you should do before writing an appeal paper is to brainstorm a list of every reason why you believe the appeal should be granted. Disagreeing with a decision because you don’t like it is not good enough. There need to be specific reasons relating to the grading accuracy, policy or procedure that warrant a review.
Your grade appeal letter, like an essay, should consist of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion (proposed resolution). Ensure that you use respectful language and base yourself only on the facts and grounds of your appeal. Make sure to keep your letter as concise as possible while still providing the reader with all the necessary information.
The grade appeal template below provides more guidance on how to structure your letter.
Grade Appeal Letter Template
Your student number
Course code (for the course you are appealing), your instructors name, the term you took the class you are appealing
ARCH 101, Dr. William Murray, Spring 2021
Dear DEPARTMENT CHAIR/DIRECTOR Name
Introduction (do not use section headlines – this headline is just for instruction purposes)
Your introduction should include the course you are appealing, the name of the instructor, the date you received your grade, and why you are choosing to appeal the grade.
I am writing in regards to my final grade received on ____DATE____ in__ COURSE CODE___ taught by Dr ___________. I believe I was assessed unfairly/inconsistently based on the following:
Body (do not use section headlines – this headline is just for instruction purposes)
The body should include all of you fact-based information relating to the events that took place which may have affected the grade awarded. If you can speak to the following points, be sure to include that information to help strengthen your appeal.
- The student was assessed inaccurately/inconsistently. Copies or examples of documentation verifying unfair and/or inconsistent assessment should be attached as part of the appeal submission. Did the instructor use a rubric? Include the rubric and clearly identify why you think your grade is not consistent with the grading criteria that was provided.
- The course requirements or course outcomes as described in the course outline were not adhered to. A copy of the course outline must be attached and referenced within the appeal submission identifying which course requirements and/or course outcomes were not adhered to. Did the instructor abruptly shift the grading format/weighting of the class. Note that this is not necessarily a ground for appeal if everyone in the class was subject to the same changes.
- The Grading and Reconsideration of Grades Policy was not adhered to by the faculty member. Identify the specific sections of the policy that were violated explain what elements of the course violated those sections.
- A policy or process exists that impacted adversely on the academic progress of a student. A copy of the policy or process must be attached by the student and referenced within the appeal submission identifying the sections that impact adversely on the academic progress of the student.
If the points above do not match your fact-based information, please highlight the points you do have in this section. Be as specific as possible in this section (ex. include dates, times, email correspondence). As mentioned above condescending, or inappropriate language/phrasing should not be used.
Your letter should also identify what steps you have taken to raise your concerns with the TA or instructor and the response you received. Include copies of any written communication you have already had regarding your appeal. If the discussion was verbal, specify the date and summarize what was discussed.
Conclusion (do not use section headlines – this headline is just for instruction purposes)
Thank the person the letter is addressed to for taking the time to consider your grade appeal. Identify whether you would like to request an anonymous re-grading by another qualified faculty member, if appropriate (When is this appropriate? If you have been unable to have your concerns addressed to your satisfaction by the Instructor and are now appealing to the Chair. If you have a legitimate reason to believe that your work is not being fairly graded for reasons connected to your identity, you can ask the Chair to arrange an anonymous re-grading by a qualified faculty member).