msc grades: advice desperately needed

I

======= Date Modified 02 Dec 2010 09:18:24 =======
======= Date Modified 02 Dec 2010 09:16:56 =======
I am just completed my Msc and i have been told that i will be awarded with a pass :( rather than a merit that i was hoping for. I am really saddened and unhappy about this. I have been able to sleep or do anything. The aim of getting the Msc was to increase my chances in getting a good job and make myself and my parents proud but now i feel like i am a total failure.

My first semester was really awful as i had four Ds in the four courses i took.

Second semester was much better and i had one A, two Bs, one C and another B in dissertation. The total course unit was 180units. I was thinking that with my grades i could still nail a merit. So i am really surprised when i was told by the uni that based on a formula that was used, all i will get is a pass grade.

I feel strongly that i am close to the merit mark. The examination board that awards the final grade is yet to sit and i am wondering if there is any advice or suggestion that anyone could give me that could make me present my case to the school and maybe review my grades or give me the opportunity to take some more courses. I had a 67B grade in my dissertation and since the board is yet to sit am wondering if this can be changed to an A.

I did put in a letter for extenuating circumstances about one month before my first semester exams asking for some days off from school. I do not know if i can still use that as a reason to explain why i did so poorly in my first semester.

Please, any advice or suggestions or loopholes just to get this merit grade will be highly appreciated. I have sacrificed a lot financially just to commence this degree and it is just a shame if at the end of the day all i have to show for it is a pass grade.

Please help me.

Thanks.

K

Hey! I think ultimately it depends on how close you are to the merit. Assuming merit is 60%, if you're on 59 point something, then you might have a chance. If you're much further below that I don't think you would get boosted up unless you have a good enough case with your extenuating circumstances. I would see your tutor and ask him to point out the extenuating circumstances to the examination board- if you are close to the merit boundary this may be enough to push you up. Of course, it depends on the formula too, and the weightings of each of the modules and your dissertation. In some courses you would have to get good enough grades in both the modules and the dissertation to be awarded a certain grade, but in other courses they just take an average. Hope it works out for you, KB

D

Assessment is a really a mathematically process. You should take out your School's and your University's Regulations handbook and work out where you stand with your marks. There are rounding up and rounding down rules, conceptual marking schemes and band grading possibilities. Having 58 is not close to have a merit. Having 59.5 is.  Most Universities apply a rule that you need a 70 in the dissertation to get a distinction. The 67 is your dissertation may help your overall average in your hope to get a Merit as often the dissertation is a double weighted module. Having had 4 Ds in the first four modules it is very difficult to regain ground.

You cannot challenge the mark of a piece of academic work. This is wasted effort.You can only challenge the circumstances of the assessment. The main grounds are (1) lack of adequate supervision and (2) procedural irregularities.  In terms of extenuating circumstances, check your regulations to see where your circumstances fall. Again, if the reason is minor, and you were granted a few days leave, or an extension to hand in some work, it is unlikely that this could help you.

Often having a Masters - regardless of the grade - is the criteria for jobs. The grade is often less important, unless you are planning to apply for a PhD. You can easily explain the Pass grade, by saying - I was working full-time and had to fit the Masters in alongside my job. Therefore the mark does not reflect my true ability.

Hope this helps. Be kind to yourself. Masters studies are a hard slog. I am sure your parents are pleased as punch that you got your Masters and are not as focussed on the classification as you think.




F

You passed! Well done!
I know it doesn't feel great when you were expecting a merit, but Masters level work is hard and you did it! So the first thing I think is important is please don't be disappointed in yourself for what is a fantastic achievement.
Secondly I would take some advice from whomever you can - supervisors, postgraduate admin, student union postgrad rep, other people on the course. Do as much research as you can into your options.
Thirdly, it varies from uni to uni but where I am you CAN challenge marks if your marks are really close to the border between two classifications. You don't have to say your teaching was inadequate or you had extenuating circumstances, you just ask if the external examiner can look again at your work and the mark it was given. Often this involves meeting with internal and external examiners for the qualification in a mini-viva regarding the work. If you can show them you deserve a couple of marks better it might make all the difference. Does your uni allow this?
Fourthly, it's probably too late now but check if you can apply for retrospective mitigation if you had some problems during your studies which could have interfered with your work.
Fifthly, I agree with the other poster that outside of academia pretty much no one will be interested in what grade you got.
Which brings me back to point one - you have got your masters. Well done!:-)

J

Every university is different but all those I have had recent contact with (2 masters and the one I teach in ) do not allow appeal against academic judgement.  The uni I work in doesn't allow for mitigating circumstances in performance either - mit circs can be applied in requesting an extension or a deferral but if you are well enough to attend the assessment then the mark applies. It also depends on what the actual marks were - if the lower grades were low and the higher ones were only just the higher grade then you may be quite far off.

I would echo what others have said - in the real world (ie outside academia) no one is interested in what classification you got at Masters - most people don't even understand that there are classifications - they think it is a pass / fail.

Don't dwell on it - you passed.

I

Thank you all for your replies and your kind words of encouragement.

I am indeed most grateful.

I had nursed the fear of finishing with a bad grade right from the moment i saw my first semester grades. I cried my eyes out when i saw the first semester grades and i kept asking myself where i went wrong. I had a few meetings with my school tutor where i discussed and expressed my fears and he told me that i could still meet up with a good grade if i did well in my second semester and have a minimum B grade in my dissertation.

According to what he told me, i need to have a minimum grade of Bs in 5 courses. So in my case, i have 1A, 3Bs and 1c. I felt that the A and C in the two respective courses will work out on the average as 2Bs.

Based on the university's regulations and i quote:
For awards of Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master of Arts, Master of Science, or other taught postgraduate Masters Degree, the Board of Examiners shall
recommend the highest classification arising from the application of the following formulae:
a) the classification calculated from the weighted mean of the relevant credits at level M;
b) the minimum classification in which the best 50% of the relevant credits at level M were attained.

Based on a formula my friend explained to me, i worked out my cummulative grade as 57. Just 3marks short of the required 60marks. :-(

I do not know if i can make a case under procedural irregularities or write a letter begging or explaining my case.

In terms of extenuating circumstances, all i asked for was a few days off from school few weeks to my first semester exams so i really do not know if that will count now.

I do have plans of studying for a PhD later in future but it seems that plan has been wrecked now because of my potential grade :-(

Any more advice or suggestions will be grateful appreciated

I

hank you all for your replies and your kind words of encouragement.

I am indeed most grateful.

I had nursed the fear of finishing with a bad grade right from the moment i saw my first semester grades. I cried my eyes out when i saw the first semester grades and i kept asking myself where i went wrong. I had a few meetings with my school tutor where i discussed and expressed my fears and he told me that i could still meet up with a good grade if i did well in my second semester and have a minimum B grade in my dissertation.

According to what he told me, i need to have a minimum grade of Bs in 5 courses. So in my case, i have 1A, 3Bs and 1c. I felt that the A and C in the two respective courses will work out on the average as 2Bs.

Based on the university's regulations and i quote:
For awards of Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master of Arts, Master of Science, or other taught postgraduate Masters Degree, the Board of Examiners shall
recommend the highest classification arising from the application of the following formulae:
a) the classification calculated from the weighted mean of the relevant credits at level M;
b) the minimum classification in which the best 50% of the relevant credits at level M were attained.

Based on a formula my friend explained to me, i worked out my cummulative grade as 57. Just 3marks short of the required 60marks.

I do not know if i can make a case under procedural irregularities or write a letter begging or explaining my case.

In terms of extenuating circumstances, all i asked for was a few days off from school few weeks to my first semester exams so i really do not know if that will count now.

I do have plans of studying for a PhD later in future but it seems that plan has been wrecked now because of my potential grade

Any more advice or suggestions will be grateful appreciated

S

Well done on passing your MSc - that is brilliant news.

With regards to the grades, 57 is nowhere near a merit.... as has been said, 59.5 may have been looked at again with a view to potentially upgrading your classification, but 57 is way off. Let me expand on that - in the real world its very close - in the academic world if you're hoping for review of grading its just not close enough. I know that in my uni they will look at the grade if it is within .5 (that is to go up OR down...) but no further - 59 wouldn't justify consideration for example.

Please don't focus on the actual grade, it really isn't that big a deal. If you want to go on to PhD they will look not at the blanket mark but at the whole breakdown paying specific attention to the dissertation and you did really well in the bit that mattered! Of course we all understand how upset you must be, but in the grand scheme of things for the rest of the planet you have an MSc - that is a big deal. Most people aren't aware of the grading and some unis don't even use it!

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