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Do College Grades Round Up? Let’s Demystify This!

If you want to earn high grades in college, you need to study hard and understand the material that you are learning in your classes. It can be frustrating to work hard but not end up with the grade you thought you would have, especially if your grade is close to the next one up. But do college grades round up? 

College grades often round up automatically if they have a decimal that would normally round up like a 79.5 would round up to an 80. But, if your grade does not round automatically, you have to ask your professor to round it up. Professors can decide if they want to bump up your grade or not. 

This article will explain how classes are graded in college and whether or not college grades round-up with an example. We will also explain how to ask your professor to round up your grade and how grading curves work. Finally, we provided some resources to help you study hard and succeed in college. 

Rounding Up College Grades - what you need to know.

How Are Classes Graded in College?

Colleges grade on a 4.0 GPA scale where different number ranges on the scale correspond to a grade. There are different ranges on the GPA scale for plus and minus grades. 

Here is how each letter grade corresponds to a number on the GPA scale: 

Letter GradePercentage (out of 100)GPA (4.0 Scale)
A+97-1004.0
A94-964.0
A-90-933.7
B+87-893.3
B84-863.0
B-80-832.7
C+77-792.3
C74-762.0
C-70-731.7
D+67-691.3
D64-661.0
D-60-630.7
F0-590.0

On the 4.0 GPA scale, the highest GPA you can have is 4.0 if you have a numerical average of 94 or above. While most colleges use this scale, some colleges may grade differently or have exceptions for certain programs like the graduate or law schools.

See Unweighted vs. Weighted GPA Explained

How Rounding Can Effect Letter Grades

So what happens if you have a grade in between a range, such as a 96.5? Would this count as an A or an A+? Decimals ending in 5 or higher usually round-up, and your grade will automatically round up to a 97, or an A+. 

However, if you have a 96.4, you may have your grade rounded down, which means you earned an A instead of an A+ (source). 

We will explain how to ask your professor to round up your grade later in the article. 

Does an 89.5 Round Up to a 90 in College?

As discussed in the section above, many professors will round up based on the grade percentage you earn. 

An 89.5 would round up to a 90 in college because there is a five as the decimal place. It does not only work for 89.5, as it is true for any grade. So a 79.5 would round to an 80, an 83.5 would round to an 84, and an 86.5 would round to an 87. 

Grades will often round up or down in whatever grading system your school or professor uses, so you do not have to worry about asking your professor to round grades like this. 

But, if you notice that you have a grade close to the next grade up and should be rounded, you can ask your professor to round up your grade. We will explain how to do this in the next section. 

How To Ask a Professor To Round Up Your Grade

It can be frustrating if you are close to a higher grade, but your grade percentage does not quite get you there. 

For example, if you have a 79.5, you will likely earn a C+ based just on the percentage and the GPA scale discussed above. But, you may think you earned a B- based on your effort in the class, or want a B- to keep a good GPA, or because a B looks better on your transcript compared. 

So, you may decide you want to ask your professor to round up your grade. Before you do this, make sure you read the syllabus for any grading policies. 

Then, if you are going to meet with your professor for a grade raise, be prepared. 

See Do Professors Bump Up Grades?

Read the Syllabus and Your Assignments

Before asking a professor to round up your grade, make sure you check the class syllabus to see if your professor has any policies regarding grading. See if they have anything about their grading scale not changing from the syllabus or if they state that they do not round or change grades. 

Some professors have a strict policy about rounding grades. 

They may not do it at all, or they may round everyone’s if they round any. Keeping it to everyone or no one keeps it fair for the whole class without giving one student an advantage over the others. 

If there is anything about grade changes in the syllabus, don’t ask your professor to change your grade (source).

There is something called curved grading, which is usually when the professor changes everyone’s grades to be better, and we will explain this in a later section. 

You should also check your assignments and any feedback your professor gives. 

Maybe you missed part of an assignment, like not meeting deadlines or the word count for a paper. Having one of these happen is an easy way for your grade to fall. So, make sure you fully complete your assignments and turn them in on time. 

But, if you do not see anything in your syllabus and you don’t see any grading mistakes or other late policies, you can ask your professor to round up your grade. 

So how do you ask your professor to round up your grade? 

Talk to Your Professor

First, know that you are more likely to raise your grade if you have a good relationship with your professor. You should be proactive at the beginning of the semester and start to build a relationship with all of your professors so you are not introducing yourself right before you ask for a grade raise. 

Then, come up with a few convincing reasons that you deserve to have your grade rounded up. Did you participate in the class or attend office hours? 

Or maybe you missed a class or two due to an illness or death in your family. 

Go to your meeting prepared to give your professor reasons to round up your grade. Or, you can offer ways that you can make up for it. Maybe you can do an extra credit assignment or redo an assignment to boost your grade. 

If you missed part of an assignment, ask if you can submit it before the grading deadline for partial credit at least. Anything you can think of that may help your grade may be worth asking your professor about. 

But, if you ask them to raise your grade and they say no, do not push them any further unless there is a clear error in their grading. For example, maybe your professor forgot to put an essay into their grade book, or you took a test, and they missed some correct answers. 

If this is the case, show them the mistake and ask them to recalculate your grade. 

But, if there is no objective reason that your grade is low, and they say no when you ask them to round up your grade, let it go and accept your grade as the professor gave it. 

How Grading Curves Work

Some professors use grading on a curve, which is a method of rounding grades up for everyone in the class. Each professor can choose how they curve grades, but they use a few common methods to grade on a curve. 

The first method is mathematically such that the highest grade is 100%, and all the other grades are curved to match. 

So, say that the highest grade at the end of the semester is 90%. The professor will add 10 percentage points to everyone’s grade, so the student who earned a 90 will now have 100%, and everyone else will also have their grade raised by 10 points. 

Professors can also add a certain number of points to everyone’s grade, even if the highest is not 100%. Say they add five percentage points, so someone who earned an 87 would now have a 92, and someone who earned a 73 would now have a 78. 

There are other ways to curve grades, too, like by using a bell curve such that the distribution of grades makes a bell-shaped curve. 

The few best students will earn an A, the majority of students closest to the mean of the grade average will earn a C, which is the middle of the curve. And, the lowest students will have grades lower than the mean, which is usually an F.

But, when grading on a curve, students’ grades will never be lower than what they earned, only higher, up to 100%. So, if the worst grade in the class is 72, no students will be given a D or F, even if the professor uses a bell curve. 

Professors use grading curves to give students an advantage in the class when it comes to grading fairly to everyone in the class. 

See Curved Grades – A Complete College Student’s Guide

Study Resources

If you want to succeed in school, you need to study hard. The resources in this section will teach you some great study tools that will help you earn good grades in college. The books are from Amazon.com.

  • How to Study in (Almost) Every Situation: This book has more than 20 study strategies that you can use to keep your studying on track without having to spend all of your time outside of class studying. 
  • How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There): This book is a more general guide to college success which is great for students transitioning from high school to college, and one of the most difficult parts is studying for a higher level since college is more intense. While it is geared towards first-year students, any grade level can learn from it. 
  • Teach Yourself How to Learn: This final book is a great resource for teaching yourself how to learn anything, extending past college. You will find the skills in this class to be useful for college, graduate programs, and whatever jobs or other paths you take after college. 
  • A ten-video playlist on YouTube by Crash Course teaches you study skills that everyone can benefit from, no matter your major or classes. You will learn how to take notes most efficiently for you, be productive, and feel prepared for exams. You can find the whole playlist here:
Playlist: Study Skills

Final Thoughts

Sometimes your grades will round up automatically in your school’s grading system, such as if you have an 89.5, it will round up to a 90. But, not all colleges and professors do this, so you may have to ask your professor in person to round up your grade. 

Make sure to check your syllabus before talking to your professor because they may have a policy in place about grading. The best way to avoid asking your professor to round up your grade is to study hard, using the resources we provided above as tools. 

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