Dear Hypothetical future student,

For the final journal, the course has asked me to write a journal telling a future student whatever I would want to say to them.

Of course, I don’t really care to say anything to a future student, nor would I really be able to speak my mind in a graded assignment anyway, so I’ll just give you a quick guide on how to pass this class and others, from someone who will probably get an A. 

Your grade for this course is allegedly computed from five equal components: journals, author  critiques, peer critiques, major writing assignments, and final portfolio. 

Obviously everything here is written assignments. If you hate writing, I suggest you take another creative expression class. That being said, this is much less difficult, though probably more time consuming, than your English composition classes.  

Of the five components the first three, journals and the two types of critiques, are only based on participation. That is, as long as you actually do them past an effort threshold(hint: the only objective quantitative determinant for “effort” is length) and follow directions, you’ll get a 100. This should already be 60/100 points for the course.

The major writing assignments are probably the main barrier to achieving an A for most students. Like the journals and critiques, as long as you put in the time and effort, you’ll receive full credit. The difference compared to the other participation based assignments is length. You’ll be given 7 assignments: 2 memoirs, 2 short stories, a set of 4 poems( though only 2 will be graded), and 2 dialogues. Each of these are significantly longer and thus more time-consuming than the other assignments so far. 

Assuming each category of writing is given equal weight (which is an uncertain assumption), then each assignment is 2.5% of your grade. That seems low until you realize that the final portfolio includes one each of memoir, short story, and poem, plus a final reflection, each worth a quarter of the 20% of the final grade, or an additional 5%. So the best memoir, short story and poem is 7.5%(5+2.5) each, the second memoir, short story and poem and both dialogues are 2.5% each(though one dialogue also doubles as a journal, so it’s technically worth 4.5%). 

If your goal in this class is to get an A, you can lose at most 7 points of the 40 performance based points. Assuming you do every assignment, you need to earn 33/40 points, or 82.5% on average. This is actually a pessimistic view, as remember your best memoir, short story and poem are counted more than double as much as their inferior counterpart. Additionally, each major writing assignment should be an easy 100% as long as you put the time in. 

In the end, this is mostly a participation based class, so as long as you do the work it should be an easy A. There are 10 journals and 6 of each critique. Every skipped journal is minus 2 points, every skipped critique is minus 3.33 points, the first skipped major assignment is minus 2.5 points the second is minus 7.5 points. 

None of the above should matter as long as you just do the work. For GPA purposes, this class is actually one of the more efficient classes to spend time on since any assignment you put enough work in is a guaranteed 100. The only way to fail this class is just not doing the work. 

Now, the main reason I illustrate the grade calculation, even though it shouldn’t be relevant for this class, is to provide a framework to calculate and predict your grade in any given class. Most classes have a grade breakdown which you can find in the syllabus that resembles something like this:

Homework: 20%

Tests: 50%

Final exam: 30%

The majority of classes have either exceedingly easy or participation based homework. For simplicity I’m going to assume homework is an easy 100%. 

Out of the remaining 80 points, you can lose at most 7 points to get an A, or 40 points to get a passing grade. If there are three tests, of which the lowest is dropped, each test is worth 25 points. You can calculate the impact each test score has on your final grade by multiplying your percentage test scores by its worth. So if you earn a 76% on your test, it’ll be worth 0.76*25=19, or 19 points out of the possible 25 you could have earned towards your final grade. This also means 6 points are lost permanently, so your highest possible final grade is a 94. 

Once you understand the above calculations you can start calculating how high your upcoming test scores need to be to achieve a target grade. If I have the test scores of 93%, 84%, and 72%, the lowest is dropped, so only the 93% and 84% are counted. 0.93*25=23.3 points from test one, 0.84*25=21 from test two, and 21+23.3 = 44.3 points out of 50 from both tests. 50-44.3 = 5.7 points lost permanently, so my highest possible grade is now 100 minus 5.7, or 94.3. If my goal in the class is to earn a B+, which is 87 points, I can lose no more than 94.3 – 87, or 7.3 points from the final. Therefore, I need a 22.7/30 on the final, which is a 76%. 

The main use is to know how much relative effort you need for the upcoming tests. Using the previous example, of the three tests, my average performance is 83%, which is higher than the 76% I need to earn a B+. As long as I put in the same amount of effort in studying for the final as I did for the other three tests, I should be able to earn a B+ unless I’m very unlucky.