Flunking a test or doing worse than you thought you would on an essay can be a horrible feeling. And if you don’t think you deserve the grade you were given, this sensation can be even worse.

While discussing a mark with a teacher can go well and help you understand what you might be able to do better next time, it can also go very wrong. Here’s how to do it right.


1. Wait a few days after receiving your mark 

Chances are, you’ll be calmer if you spend a bit more time analysing your teacher’s words and the grade itself. This way, you’ll also be able to make a better argument for your work — or realise you overreacted.

In this time, compare your work with the rubric and try and consider what you really did get wrong, and whether your mistakes warranted the grade you received.


2. Set an appointment

If you’ve done all the above and still think you were graded too harshly, set up a time to chat with your teacher – when they aren’t insanely busy marking. Ask them for a time that’s convenient to them, so they’re in the best frame of mind to discuss your work.


3. Make a copy of your work with your teacher’s comments

Annotate this copy with any questions, queries, comments or concerns you have so you don’t get off track in the meeting. This extra effort will also make it clear to your teacher that the assessment is important to you, and you’re not just trying to get your grade changed for the sake of it.


4. Remain calm

In the meeting, try and remain as calm and measured as possible. Go through each point you have – without criticising the way your teacher marked your work – and listen to their explanations and clarifications.


5. Say thanks

Regardless of what happens in the meeting, remember to thank your teacher for taking the time to go through your work for a second time. Whether or not your mark changes, you will now have a better idea of what your teacher is expecting for future assessments.