By Kazuya Muto
Assignments at my university are marked very strictly. If your logic is muddled or your analysis shallow, your grades drop dramatically, so little wonder that most students (not only foreign students but Australian students as well) are worried about their marks.
Assignments at my university are graded into six categories: High Distinction (more than 85 percent), Distinction (75-84 percent), Credit (65-74 percent), Pass (50-64 percent), Pass Conceded (45-49 percent) and Fail (less than 44 percent). For me, High Distinctions (HD) and Distinctions (D) are impossible dreams. Passes (P) and Pass Concededs (PC) are my reality.
We normally get the results of our assignments — and any feedback — a week or two before our finals. We can then gauge how hard we have to study for our exams based on those results. This has its advantages and its disadvantages. If you do well in your assignments, it can inspire confidence; if you do badly, it can make you lose motivation.
When I was doing my assignments, I worked flat out to get good results. For example, when I was writing up a business report, I would try my best to follow what the lecturer had said in class. I would read as many of the prescribed books as I could, and I would be very careful not to plagiarize (plagiarism is a major issue here; you aren't allowed to copy even a single sentence from another source). I would also check for incoherence, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, and after I'd done all that, I would reference my sources.
It was exhausting. But at the same time very satisfying, particularly after finishing an assignment. Then I would sit back and think, "This is at least a Distinction or a Credit." Silly me. I would later be forced to eat my own words.
On the day I got the results for my business report, I was confident — until one of my Australian friends said, "Hey, Kazu! Did you get your results? Mine sucked, man. I got just a PC." Suddenly I was very worried. If I got a PC it would be very hard to recover from that.
I went to my tutorial, where I would find out my grades. "Hi, guys," said the tutor. "Today I'm returning your feedback for your business report and your presentation." The presentation? That was a surprise.
First came the results of our presentation. I barely had the courage to look at the paper, but when I did, my jaw hit the ground. It was a High Distinction! I immediately checked to see that I had been given the right sheet of paper, that it wasn't someone else's mark. But it was my mark, and I was thrilled.
Then I was given the results of my business report. After the HD, I was confident that I would do well. What stared back at me, however, was a large PC. I had been marked down because my analysis was too weak.
How do I express what I felt after that? On the one hand, I had a High Distinction; on the other, I had a Pass Conceded. I did a quick calculation. I have to get at least 50 percent in my business finals, which are coming up a week from now. Yes. My finals are upon me.
Shukan ST: Dec. 8, 2006
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