Look up your course records and grades at Blackboard.

Estimating your Course Grade after Exam 4

As of Friday, April 29, your overall course score has been calculated according to the formula announced in the syllabus, and is now posted on Blackboard, along with the four components which add up to the course total. On Blackboard, you will find the columns described below. At this time it is still possible to improve some (but not all) of these scores, which in some (not all) cases could also improve your letter grade. Below this list you will find a final table of numerical score - letter grade correspondences.

  1. Exam Total: This is the sum of the three best exams from the first half of the semester (Exam 1, Exam 2, and Make-up Exam 1), plus your scores on Exams 3 and 4. You may be able to improve your exam total if you take the second Make-up Exam, which will be given in class on Thursday, May 5, starting at or near the beginning of the class meeting period. The May 5 exam can replace your score (or a missed exam) for Exam 3 or Exam 4, but not for any of the earlier exams. (If you do worse on Make-Up Exam 2 than on Exams 3 and 4, it will not count.)
  2. Homework Total: The best 6 out of 8 homework scores, converted to a percentage of the total available points (96) and scaled to a maximum value of 15. This can no longer be changed.
  3. Quiz Total: The sum of all Quiz scores, up to a maximum of 15. If this number is currently less than 15, you may be able to raise it by taking Quiz 12, which will be given at the beginning of class on Tuesday, May 3. Quiz 12 will be on material in chapters 21 and 22. (It will be graded similarly to the other quizzes, so if your answers are incorrect, you won't receive credit.)
  4. Participation Total: The sum of all index cards, plus up to 2 points for Star Parties and up to 3 points for Public Lecture write-ups. If the total is less than 10 points, you may be able to increase it by attending a Star Party and obtaining an official signed slip with your name on it. Slips from any Star Parties attended through Wed., May 4, must be turned in before class on Thursday, May 5 in order to receive credit. Slips from May 6 or 7 must be turned in at the Astronomy Student Office, RLM 15.202AA, in an envelope addressed to Prof. Dinerstein, by 5 PM on Monday, May 9, to receive credit. Again, if you already have 10 points of participation credit, you are not eligible to earn additional credit through Star Parties.
  5. Course Total: The course total has been computed from the above items, weighted as described in the Syllabus. The following score ranges will be assigned the corresponding letter grades in the table below. Scores will be rounded up only if they are less than 0.10 points below the next higher interval. If this is not the case, do not bother asking the professor to approve further rounding-up of your grade. The answer will be No.

Letter Grade

Course Total (Range)

88.0 - 100


85.0 - 87.9


78.0 - 84.9

75.0 - 77.9


72.0 - 74.9


68.0 - 71.9

62.0 - 67.9


58.0 - 61.9


55.0 - 57.9

52.0 - 54.9


50.0 - 51.9

< 50

Estimating your Course Grade at Mid-Semester

Many students would like to know how they are doing in this course, in terms of a semester grade. You can make a rough projection of your likely course grade, assuming that your performance in the class continues to be at the same level as in the first half of the semester. In order to make such an estimate, do the following:

  1. Add together your two best exam scores, out of the three hour exams given to date (Exam 1, Exam 2, and First-Half Make-up Exam). This should be a number between 0 and 60.
  2. Add your three best homework scores out of the four homeworks given in the first half of the semester (HW 1, 2, 3, and 4). Divide the total by 48, then multiply by 15. This should be a number between 0 and 15.
  3. Add up all your Quiz scores from the first half of the semester (Quizzes 1 - 6). Multiply by 2. If the total is greater than 15, round it down to 15. This should be a number between 0 and 15.
  4. Add up all your participation points from the first half of the semester. Multiply by 2. If the total is greater than 10, round it down to 10. This should be a number between 0 and 10.
  5. Add the above numbers, A - D. The total should be a number between 0 and 100. Consult the table below that gives the correspondence between letter grade (first column) and percent correct (third column). This gives an approximate idea of your expected semester grade based on the first half of the semester. Of course, any significant improvement in one or more of the items above has the possibility of raising your grade.

Exam 1 scores are now available. I do not "curve" exam grades, but instead I set up a table of correspondences between raw exam scores and approximate letter grades. The correspondence table for Exam 1 is as shown below. In general, the same table usually will apply to future exams as well.

Letter Grade

Exam Score

% Correct































< 50

Statistics of student scores for Exam 1 are summarized below. Approximately 85% of the class received scores corresponding to letter grades of A - C, while 15% of the class had scores in the D - F range.

Letter Grades

# of Students

% of Class

A, A-



B+, B, B-



C+, C, C-



D+, D, D-