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1985: 8-point Grading System Abandoned

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At the 1985 spring University Council meeting, faculty and students narrowly passed the resolution "that Council adopt a percentage system for recording grades to which literal descriptors can be attached as soon as administratively possible and that this system be implemented in July of 1986."1 This ended the University's experiment with an 8-point grading system. The rationale behind the 1982 point-system implementation had been to "provide students in the humanities and the social sciences with an equal opportunity to score top grades." Under the percentage system, top students in the sciences, math and engineering could receive marks in the high 90s, or even 100%; whereas for their counterparts in the humanities,
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it was rare to find top grades above 85%. This put the humanities students at a distinct disadvantage in any campus-wide scholarships or awards based on grade averages, despite their high achievement. The grade-point system was designed to identify performance more clearly - with no reliance on an obscure difference between a 74 and a 75%; and with no need to provide 49 different ways to fail.

Unfortunately, many professors did not understand the goals of the system; or perhaps old habits die hard. Some professors and departments capped their marks at 7, incorrectly arguing that an 8 indicated perfection and was therefore impossible to obtain. The faculty of engineering, whose students could potentially obtain perfect 100s under the percentage system, were among those who voted against retaining the 8-point system.

Related Collections

Vice-President (Special Projects)/(Planning & Development), RG 2006.2.


1985a: The Sheaf, September 6, 1985. 
1985b: The Sheaf,  June 13, 1985.


1. University Secretary’s Office fonds, RG 2009.
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