How we grade
In the first year, faculty may grade solely on examinations or may also consider class participation when assigning the final grade.
In upper-level elective and seminar courses, your academic work may be graded entirely by an exam or paper; or the professor may factor with the exam or paper grade, any of the following or combination of the following:
- in-course assignments
- classroom participation
If a professor bases the final grade in a course in whole or in part on written assignments other than “traditional” exams, these written assignments should be graded anonymously except where the assignment involves student-faculty interchange that in the faculty member's judgment makes anonymity for all students impossible. Professors must announce their grading practices during the add/drop period.
In clinical, externship and skills courses, how your grade is determined will be announced by the instructor prior to the end of add/drop. In most of these types of courses, your grade predominantly will be a matter of your participation and may include written work or an exam. Naturally, these courses will have an attendance requirement. If unable to meet the attendance requirement, you should consider dropping the course before the end of add/drop.
Since 2004, law faculty are required to adhere to a mandatory grade curve and in 2012, the law faculty modified the grading policy. You can find the new policy here . Only the Vice Dean can grant an exception to the policy and only then for good cause shown by the faculty member.
Once a student's degree has been conferred, the academic record is closed and it cannot be changed or amended.
What types of grades are given
Law grades in courses graded by standard letter grade have quality points from which your grade point average is determined:
"A+" (4.3) "A" (4.0), "A-" (3.7)
"B+" (3.3), "B" (3.0), "B-" (2.7)
"C+" (2.3), "C" (2.0), "C-" (1.7), "D" (1.0) and
"F" (fail -- 0 quality points that will factor into your grade point average, no credit is earned).
As an alternative to these standard letter grades, pass/fail grades may be used in certain Law School courses as approved by the Vice Dean. The following four grades are available: "H" (honors), "P" (pass), "LP" (low pass), and "F" (fail). A grade of honors, pass, or low pass will not affect a student's grade point average but will count toward the total number of credits required for graduation. A grade of "fail" will affect a student's grade point average. With the exception of Lawyering Skills courses, the number of honors grades cannot exceed 10.0% of enrolled students under any circumstance.
Absent a controlling language in a course description, instructors may select which grading system they use in a given course. If the course description does not specify a grading system and the instructor does not specify a grading system before the end of the add/drop period, Standard Letter grading will be used. If a course description or an instructor indicates that some form of pass-fail grading will be used, but does not use the exact phrase "Standard Pass-Fail" or "Extended Pass-Fail" or is otherwise ambiguous, Extended Pass-Fail grading will be used.
Other grades that have no effect on your grade point average may be on your transcript:
"T" (transfer credit from another institution -- students must request permission to "visit" another institution or an institution's abroad program and must seek approval to register in specific courses. To transfer, grades in approved credits must be a "C" or better and will come to the W&M transcript as a "P")
"NG" (no grade or credit earned – when a faculty member has not yet submitted your grade)
"I" (incomplete—can only be given with permission of the Associate Dean for Student Services and is never given to a graduating student in the semester they are graduating)
"O" (audit—no credit earned)
You may not elect to take a regularly graded course pass/fail. You may only convert a grade earned (subject to the policy) to a "pass."
You may, if in good standing, elect to convert to a “pass” one course grade that was graded by a letter grade. This option is governed by the Grade Conversion Policy.
You can request that a faculty member explain how you were graded but there is no appeal process for a grade.
We do encourage grade review.