I’m a big fan of setting goals, and I would guess that passing your class is probably a priority goal for you by the end of the semester. If you’ve been getting straight A’s so far, then you’re probably feeling pretty confident. However, if you’re human like the rest of us, then you probably didn’t get straight A’s…and you might have even failed a test or quiz at some point during the semester.
If that’s your situation, then you’re probably wondering what grade you need on the final exam in order to pass your class. Luckily, that’s something you can figure out for yourself before you take your final. All you need is your syllabus, a calculator, and some scratch paper. (If you want to get fancy, you could even use an Excel spreadsheet!)
The key is calculating the weighted averages for each part of your grade, and if you like algebra then it’s a cinch. But if that statement just made your eyes glaze over, then here’s a formula you can use as a shortcut:
Don’t be discouraged if the equation looks a little confusing to you at first, I’m going to walk you through it with an example. But first, here’s what each variable means:
- – Desired_Semester_Grade = What grade do you want to get for the entire semester? If you’re trying to figure out the minimum final exam grade you need to pass, then choose the minimum passing score for your nursing program.
- – Grade_1 = Enter the grade for your first assignment. (Then your second assignment goes in Grade_2, and you can keep following the pattern for as many grades as you have until you’ve entered them all)
- – Grade_Weight_1 = Enter how much each assignment counts towards your final grade. Make sure that you keep each “grade” and “grade weight” paired together in the equation…if they get mixed up, then you won’t get the correct answer. You should be able to find all of your grade weights in the syllabus.
- – Final_Exam_Grade = This is what we’ll be solving for, this is the grade you need on your Final exam in order to earn the semester grade that you want!
Let me show you an example of what one student’s semester grades might look like, and how to plug that information into the equation. Here’s some sample grades for the semester:
- – Assignment : Grade (Grade_Weight)
- – Mid-Term Exam: 81% (60%)
- – Project: 92% (10%)
- – Participation/Attendance: 100% (10%)
- – Final Exam: ??? (20%)
And this is how it would look once you plug it into the equation. Let’s assume that this student wants to get an 85% for their semester grade:
Notice that I converted ALL of the percentages to decimals when I plugged them into the equation. Don’t forget to do that! To convert a percentage to a decimal, simply move the decimal point two places to the left. Now we have to solve for “FinalExamGrade.” Remember to follow the Order of Operations rules. For this equation, you’ll need to complete all of the multiplication on top of the fraction before doing any subtraction, then you can divide.
This student will need an 86% on the final exam in order to earn an 85% for their final class grade.
And like I mentioned earlier, you can also use this equation to figure out the minimum final exam grade you would need in order to pass the semester. Just use the minimum passing grade for your class as the variable DesiredSemesterGrade. If I solved this equation again using a DesiredSemesterGrade of 78% (the minimum passing score for my school back when I was a student), then this example student would only have to get a measly 51% on their final in order to pass the semester. Not too shabby, and definitely takes a little bit of pressure off to realize that!
Once you’ve calculated what grade you need, make sure that you remind yourself that the point of nursing school is NOT to get straight A’s. It is to learn the information you need to be able to think like a nurse and provide spectacular care for your future patients. So don’t stress if your grade isn’t quite as high as you’d like it to be. Instead, try to focus on your real goal of passing school and becoming an awesome nurse.