Would You Tell Your Teacher If He Accidentally Gave You a High Grade?


GiantBomb.com’s forum recently posted from user Hunter5024 a question that most were shocked to read. It reads:

So I just got my grades back from the end of the semester and I got an A in my Japanese class. Which is actually statistically impossible based on my work throughout the semester, I did fairly well throughout the semester (for me), unfortunately I bombed my final which is worth a huge part of the grade, I left a lot of it blank even. I was legitimately worried that I might fail after that. So should I tell him and hope that he cuts me some slack due to my honesty? Should I keep quiet and hope that he doesn’t find out? …


  • 20% cried out “Yes!” (My God…)
  • 63% replied “No” (THANK God!)
  • 17% voted “Maybe” (Commit to a decision, people.)


Frankly, for those of you out there with similar questions or ideas, it’s important to clear up this issue with some hard-hitting logic. In college, there are no accidents. An over-powered, biased human being with something of a God-complex is grading you. What does this mean for you?


  1. There are no accidents. The overarching rule here is that your fate is in your professors hands. If he violated his own rules to get an A, then by god, you got an A. There is NO conceivable benefit to telling a professor he did something wrong, and ultimately, ESPECIALLY if you will be seeing this professor again, that is the last thing you will tell him before he sees you next semester. That he is wrong. If there was ever some idea that doing that would leave a good impression, let it be completely destroyed here.
  2. Your professor has a bad job, and therefore knows what he’s doing. Untenured professors make little more than managers at McDonalds. It’s impressive that even students show them a modicum of respect. In order to gain tenure, your professor has to not only run class, but suck up to his superiors and cut his own class for what are essentially company parties and lectures. Unethical? Just a little. It goes deeper:


a) he can actually grade papers;


b) he can assign grades randomly without wasting his own time, based on his impressions of students and the likelihood he will see them again.


So, if your professor happened to throw the darts and grant you an A, don’t tell him you deserved something less. You will essentially be calling him out on not following his own grading scale, and he will be forced to give you a lower grade, or potentially lose his already meaningless, pathetic job. Don’t mock him at his own game.


3. Your professor is human, and therefore makes mistakes. If this IS an accident, and your professor was that much of a buffoon when grading, he sure as hell is not going to waste his time going back to figure it out. Thank your stars, keep making whatever sacrifices to the GPA gods you’ve been making, and wear the lucky jersey you wore the day of the exam, for EVERY exam. It will happen again during your college career. Why? Professors are human, and very rarely as qualified as they make themselves out to be.


On an ethical note: that moral bone in your body telling you to discuss this with your professor is highly honorable, and we applaud your interest in, “doing the right thing.” Unfortunately, there will be NO way to catch your professor on this potentially unethical grading method. If you ask him about it, the only outcome is that he will continue to teach in an unethical manner, and punish you for pointing the fact out. There is no judge, no jury, no righteously guided moral compass in the modern American university system. Remember this moment, and your right instinct to ask for a change to your grade, and save your moral compass for a winnable battle. It’s likely there are MUCH worse professors on campus who fighting with will lead to real changes in the university. If this guy is not a truly bad professor, don’t attempt to fight him, and if he IS, wait until you have more solid evidence.


Ultimately, our favorite answer to this forum post was from Hunkulese:


There’s zero benefit to bringing it up with him. Cut you some slack for being honest? What does that even mean?


Now remember, if you make a grade LESS than you deserve, or want, remember, YOU CAN ALWAYS argue your way out of it. And that, we highly recommend. Good luck this Spring!