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Ask My Readers: Pluses and Minuses
November 8, 2007 - 8:29pm

Becky Hirta's recent post about grades got me thinking. My college doesn't give 'plus' or 'minus' semester grades -- you can get a B, but not a B-plus or a B-minus. The topic comes up for discussion about once a year.

The argument for pluses and minuses is basically that they offer greater precision. There's some distance between a B-plus and a B-minus, but in our system, that difference is erased. By the same token, if a student is on the border between two letters, there's more at stake in the decision which way to go.

The argument against, as near as I can tell, is based on false precision. The greater the number of gradations, the harder it is to get it just right. There's also the persistent ambiguity of the C-minus.

Since this argument is raring up for its annual go-round on campus, I'd like to get my readers' perspectives. Does it make sense to go with pluses and minuses, or are we better off sticking with blunt, whole letters?


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