The most common scales – the grade and pass/fail one – have certain advantages and disadvantages. However, if to consider which one is better for college students, it is important to remember that after college, students will find a job and they should act like adults there. American colleges should use the grade scale because it is more motivational and exact. Moreover, it better prepares students for competition in the real world and helps parents to learn if everything is fine with their children or not.
Firstly, the grade scale is more advantageous because it creates the ground for competitiveness among students. While studying, competitiveness is significant as it helps students to study harder and gives them an opportunity to prepare for their future work. For example, students discuss a book in class. A pass/fail scale allows a student to say at least something to pass while the grade scale presupposes that a student’s answer should be deeper than that of others’ to receive a higher mark. Therefore, while analyzing a book, students will compete with each other, argue, and discuss it in greater detail. In other words, everyone will make everything possible for a professor to notice his or her bright ideas and depth of thought. Such competitiveness also prepares students to find better solutions to stand out from their colleagues in the future. This ability might lead to higher salary and promotion.
Secondly, the grade scale shows accurately a student’s performance level. This quality of the scale under consideration is also very important for a student’s future. The curriculum includes a great number of subjects and all of them are necessary. Most students have certain inclinations, and if they know exactly which ones they have, it will be easier for them to decide wich occupation to choose. For example, if a person receives 99 in one of his or her courses while his or her average mark is about 80 in other courses, then it might be beneficial to consider it after finishing college. A pass/fail scale does not reveal a person’s strengths; therefore, this scale is not very helpful in choosing the future profession.
Thirdly, the grade scale is beneficial for students because it provides them with the constant motivation to study harder. Unlike the grade scale, a pass/fail scale makes students lazy and reluctant to learn more than they must. This process is natural – if a person is aware that to pass, he or she must submit a research paper, this person will try to do it as good as possible. However, in a while, this individual can think that there is no difference between trying and not trying. Therefore, the next time he or she may think that it is no use spending five hours on research when it is possible to spend three hours and pretend that it is the top of his or her capabilities. In the future, this attitude will become a habit. The grade scale will never let a student relax because low grades will always reflect the incompleteness of his or her work.
Moreover, if a student tries hard to retake an exam, it is important for him or her to learn which mark he or she will get after improving his or her work. For example, a student must receive a higher mark to pass the course. He or she pulls himself or herself together, tells all the friends that the weekend will be busy, and studies really hard to receive a higher mark. As a result, a student spends much time and efforts to achieve the aim. Therefore, this person needs a reward. In this case, the grade scale is also rather motivational.
Finally, grades are a kind of feedback not only for students butt also for their parents. If parents notice that their child’s marks have become lower, they can discuss it with their child. Students may face various difficulties, for example, depression, problems in their personal life, alcohol and drug abuse. Their marks can quickly indicate if any problems exist. If their relations with parents are trust-based, then parents can help them.
Someone may argue that the grade scale is disadvantageous because it imposes too much pressure on students. It is possible to state that it is up to a person to decide whether to learn more than he or she must or not. A pass/fail scale lets a student choose subjects to focus on. If a person already knows where he or she will work, a pass/fail system can help him or her to concentrate the efforts on particular subjects and study other subjects simply to pass them. On the one hand, this view is logical. On the other hand, it is doubtful that most of the students are mature and experienced enough to follow this strategy until finishing college. It is necessary to remember that a pass/fail scale offers no motivation. Therefore, it is likely that a student who is interested in particular subjects will stop trying hard because he or she will receive ‘pass’ for the most brilliant ideas while the grade scale can grant this student 99 for the efforts made.
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To conclude, the grade scale is more beneficial for American students than a pass/fail one. Firstly, it helps them to learn how to compete with others. Secondly, this scale is more accurate. Thirdly, it prevents students from becoming lazy. Lastly, it provides students’ parents with an opportunity to check their children’s performance, which might save them from various misfortunes. As a result, the grade scale is more advantageous for students’ future lives.