Recording And Calculating Grades

Before You Begin

Before setting up your gradebook, you should determine:

  • How grades will be calculated in the course
  • How much of the final grade each assignment or exam is worth

Grading policies are generally determined by the senior professor and communicated in the course syllabus. Final grades may be calculated based on total points, the weighted average of percentage grades, or the weighted average of letter grades.

Keeping a Record

If you are keeping paper records, wait about two weeks (or until the add/drop deadline passes and your course roster stabilizes) to create your permanent gradebook. For the first two weeks, keep track of absences and early grades on the initial roster provided by your department, a temporary notebook, or attendance sheets passed around in class. If you are keeping electronic records, you can use Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program to create a gradesheet before the first day of class. You do not need to wait two week, as these programs allow you to add or delete student names from your gradesheet as the roster stabilizes.

Setting up the Gradebook

List students alphabetically by last name in the first column. This ordering will save you time and prevent errors when you submit final grades. List all of the graded course requirements at the top of the remaining columns.


You can list these items in the order they occur in the class, or group them by type (i.e., all lab reports together, all papers together, all exams together, etc.).

Calculating Final Grades

Double-Check Your Grades

Before you begin calculating your final grades, you should double-check the accuracy of your gradesheet. In other words, make sure that the grades in your gradebook match up with the grades that you actually gave your students.

Calculating a Weighted Average

If you are using a points system in your course, then you will use simple arithmetic to calculate the total number of points earned. The grading scale for the course (generally located on the syllabus) will help you to convert total points into a letter grade. For example, in a course with a possible 500 total points, students will need a certain number of those 500 points to earn an A, a B, a C, etc. You do not need to worry about how much of the final grade each assignment or exam is worth in the point system, because their worth has already been determined by the maximum points allotted.

If you are using percentages or letter grades instead, calculating the final grade is a bit more complicated. You will need to "weight" each assignment or exam according to how much of the final grade it is worth. Using our earlier example, say that Assignment 1 is worth 10%, Assignment 2 worth 30%, Assignment 3 worth 20%, Exam 1 worth 20%, and Exam 2 worth 20% of the final grade (remember: the percentages should always add up to 100%). Then the final grade would be determined by the following "weighted average" formula:

(Assignment1Grade x .10) + (Assignment2Grade x .30) + (Assignment3Grade x .20) + (Exam1Grade x .20) + (Exam2Grade x .20) = Final Course Grade

Calculating Final Grades in Excel

The formula function in Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet programs can also be used to calculate final grades. If you are using the point system, you will instruct Excel to add up the total sum of the point values in each row. If you are are using percentages or letter-grades, you will provide Excel with a variation of the weighted average formula.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.