Appealing a Grade

The Grading System at the University of Alberta

The instructor must announce at the beginning of the course the manner in which the official grading system is to be implemented. By assigning:

  • an absolute mark;
  • a relative grade; or
  • a combination of the two.

If you have not received this information before your first assignment or exam, consult your instructor as soon as possible. Do not delay until the end of the course.

The University Calendar contains detailed information on the University's grading system.

The following are some basic guidelines and expectations with respect to grading.

  • Instructors are required to announce the distribution of weight between term work and final examination at the beginning of each course. They should provide a course outline and inform students during the first week of any assignment, examination, or other course activity (eg, class participation) to which 20% or more of the final term mark will be allotted. Instructors are also required to inform students at the beginning of the session that information on reexamination policies may be obtained from the individual faculty offices.
  • Instructors are required to announce at the beginning of a course the manner in which the University grading system is to be implemented in that particular course or section (ie, whether a particular distribution is to be used to determine grades, or whether there are absolute measures or marks which will determine them, or whether a combination of the two will be used).
  • Upon request, instructors are required to provide the method which was used to translate final and, where appropriate, term marks into grades.
  • In addition, instructors should announce the weight given to each assignment, examination or other course activity well before the assignment, examination or other course activity is to be completed by the student.
  • Instructors should allow students a reasonable time in which to complete an assignment, bearing in mind its weight.
  • Instructors should mark and return to students with reasonable dispatch all term examinations and, provided the students submit them by the due date, all course projects, papers, essays, etc.
  • All projects, papers, essays, etc, should be returned on or by the last day of classes in the course, with the exception of a final major project or paper (which may be due on the last day of classes), which should be returned by the date of the scheduled final examination or, in non-examination courses, by the last day of the examination period.

Grade Appeals

If you believe there has been a miscarriage of justice, either through procedural error or discriminatory marking, then you may appeal your grade. Simply disliking the instructor's marking scheme is not a legitimate grade grievance. Your grade may fall just below the instructor's cut-off for a higher grade; you cannot grieve this if your instructor clearly outlined how term marks are converted to grades.

Do not rely on percentages alone to determine whether you are passing your course work. It is important to consult with your instructor throughout the academic term to know where you stand, and if your academic performance has to improve.

The University has established procedures for complaints about grades, check the relevant rules and regulations outlined in the University Calendar

As a rule, the informal approach is the appropriate and first step for settling a grade dispute. Voice your concerns with your instructor. Prepare your case point by point, outlining the areas of disagreement. Listen carefully to your instructor's reasons for assigning the grade. If your problem is with a laboratory or teaching assistant, inform the instructor who is responsible for the course.

If your consultation with the instructor is unsatisfactory, then contact the chair of the department in which the course is taught.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Chair, then you should approach the dean of the faculty in which the course is taught or that dean's designate (usually the associate dean.)

Grades can not be appealed beyond the faculty level. The GFC Academic Appeals Committee is not authorized to hear an appeal from a faculty decision regarding a grade in an individual course.

Further information can be found on the Academic Appeals webpage.


If the grade in question is a final grade based in whole or in part on a final exam, you may submit a reappraisal application.

Detailed regulations on reappraisals are contained in the University Calendar.

You must apply for reappraisal by: February 1st for first term courses; June 25th for second term or full term courses; and within 30 days of the publication of grades for the Spring and Summer sessions.

You are limited to two appraisals in each Fall and Winter term; and two appraisals altogether for Spring and Summer Session courses. There is a fee for each reappraisal. Your fee will be refunded if the reappraisal is successful. The reappraised grade is the final official grade, whether it is higher or lower than the original grade.

If you did not write a final examination, you cannot apply for a reappraisal. If your final grade is determined totally by term work (such as a 100% term paper), you are not entitled to a reappraisal but you may launch a grade appeal.

The only portion of your course to be reappraised is the final exam. Consult your instructor to determine the weight of the final exam, the final exam grade, the "raw score" used to calculate the final grade, and how much the raw score must be raised in order to change your final grade.

For example, if the final exam was worth only 30% of the final grade, then your final exam grade would have to increase substantially to raise the raw score. If you require a raw score increase of 5 (out of 100) to raise your final grade by one point, your reappraisal would then have to increase by 17% on the final exam.