Negotiate with Professor for Higher Grade

Negotiating with a professor for a higher grade is a delicate matter that requires tact, clarity, and respect. Although professors have the final say in grade determination, there are certain strategies you can employ if you believe there is a valid reason for reconsideration. Here are some steps to guide you:

1. Self-Assessment

Before approaching your professor, do a self-assessment:

  • Re-evaluate your work: Go over the assignment, test, or project in question. Are you truly confident that you deserve a higher grade?
  • Compare with the grading rubric: Professors often provide grading rubrics or feedback. Ensure your understanding aligns with the provided criteria.

2. Prepare a Solid Case

Merely disagreeing with a grade isn’t enough. Gather evidence that supports your claim:

  • Detailed Review: List points where you believe you met the criteria but were not awarded marks.
  • Previous Examples: If you’ve performed similarly in past assignments and received higher grades, cite these examples (though do so cautiously, as each assignment can be different).

3. Timing is Crucial

Choose the right time to approach your professor:

  • Office Hours: Respect their schedule by approaching during office hours or by scheduling a meeting.
  • After Grading: Wait a day or two after receiving your grade. This gives you time to cool down and assess rationally, and it also provides a buffer for the professor.

4. Be Polite and Respectful

Remember, you’re asking for a favor. Your tone and demeanor should be respectful:

  • Start Positively: Begin the conversation by expressing gratitude for their teaching or feedback.
  • Avoid Accusations: Avoid using phrases that might come off as confrontational or accusatory.

5. Seek Feedback

Instead of directly asking for a grade change, consider asking for feedback:

  • Learn and Grow: Express your desire to understand where you went wrong so you can improve in the future.
  • Open Dialogue: This approach can open a constructive dialogue and might lead the professor to reconsider without a direct request.

6. Be Ready to Listen

Your professor will have reasons for the grade awarded:

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  • Understanding Perspective: Listening can help you understand their perspective and grading criteria better.
  • Acknowledge Mistakes: If the professor points out errors or areas of improvement, acknowledge them gracefully.

7. Provide Solutions

Sometimes, a compromise can be reached:

  • Extra Work: Offer to do an additional assignment or correction to demonstrate your understanding.
  • Re-take: If it’s a test, ask if there’s a possibility of a re-take or an additional test to improve the grade.

8. Know When to Accept and Move On

If the professor provides valid reasons and doesn’t see a need for grade adjustment:

  • Respect their Decision: Understand that they have the final say.
  • Focus on Future Assignments: Use the feedback to improve in future assignments or exams.

9. Reflect on the Experience

Regardless of the outcome:

  • Self-growth: Use this as a learning experience. How can you avoid similar situations in the future?
  • Build Relationships: Remember, building a positive relationship with your professor can be more valuable than a single grade.


Negotiating for a higher grade is not about challenging the professor’s authority but seeking clarity and understanding. Always approach the situation with an open mind, humility, and a genuine desire to learn. Whether or not the grade changes, the experience can provide valuable insights and growth.

Last updated on August 8, 2023 / By