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Making the Grade

In which we continue our assimilation ...

I got my first official mark1 last night, which pretty much did my head in2. I had a number of positive comments, one critique about an awkward sentence, a note that I might have been a little heavy-handed with the summation, and an "overall, very nice."

My score was 73. I was not chuffed4.

Back in the colonies4, 73% is pretty much a C-; just barely passing. Whilst5 I've been through a lot of therapy to let go of my perfectionist tendencies, and I've embraced the whole "a B+ is okay" mindset, a C- just wasn't cutting it.

So I opened my gob6 and queried7 just what said score actually meant.

"It's a first8," I was told.

Yes, my first bad mark of my grad school career.

Turns out it's a good thing and I guess I should have done a little research on conversion rates (like I did with dollar -->pound, pound-->kilo, Fahrenheit-->Celsius, etc.) Had I done so, I'd have found this handy chart:

UK Grade
Conversion Chart

So, it turns out my evening had not gone pear-shaped9 after all.

What I can't get my head around is that 70% is "excellent" over here and that one can pass with just over 40%. Does that hold true only for essays or is that true in maths10 as well? I know, I know, it's all about the scale and it seems comparing the two are chalk and cheese11, but still, the fact that they grade on a 100%-scale and "no one ever gets over 80-85" seems to be a bit defeating.

America = "aim high"
Britain = "you'll never reach the top, but keep trying anyway"

I'm sure that's just a little cynical.

They all keep saying that marks are irrelevant and we're in this programme to write a novel, not to get marks. But still. That's not the way the US public school12 system raised me. Must do better, although I don't want to be a swot13.

And, yes, I'm grateful for my mark, although I'm still not sure how the little ticks14 and comments totaled up to a minus twenty-seven points.

Maybe I shouldn't worry about it and just move on.

:: :: ::

UK - US translations:

1 mark = grade
2 do your head in = drives you crazy
3 chuffed = very pleased
4 colonies = US of A
5 whilst = very annoying (and arguably archaic) version of while
6 gob = pie hole
7 queried = asked
8 first = with merit
9 pear-shaped = tits up
10 maths = math
11 chalk and cheese = apples and oranges
12 US public school = UK private school (or maybe comprehensive?)
13 swot = brown noser, teacher's pet, etc.
14 ticks = checkmarks