The various instructors are, as a general rule, fairly explicit, at the opening of a course, in showing exactly what is required of the student to fulfill the needs of the course. The question of the grades to be assigned - the "marks" - is seldom mentioned, because it is of secondary importance. Yet under our present examination system which, though pernicious, seems unavoidable, the question of marks has a certain importance, and in the assignment of them certain perplexing problems frequently arise We know that these troubles would come up much less seldom if each instructor would state at the beginning of the course on what general basis he makes out his marks. The student generally finds this out for himself at the end of the year, but it would be much more satisfactory if the instructor would tell him at the beginning. At the end of the year a student frequently troubles an instructor to explain his mark. "Oh," says the instructor, "I mark at least fifty per cent, on work done in the class room. You wrote a good paper, but your daily work brought you down." The student turns from him to another instructor. This one says: "Well, I do not keep account of daily work. I take the examination mark and then strike an average between that and the general idea which I have of a man." The next professor says kindly - "The real reason I marked you down was because you were absent half the time. I count regularity in attendance at least one-third." Still another says carelessly - "Oh, no: I really don't care much whether you attend the lectures or not. I suppose you have to be regular enough not to get in trouble up at the office, but it really makes no great difference to me."
These various statements are bewildering, but they are not in the slightest degree exaggerated. At one time we hoped that we might have an equable standard of marking, whereby one instructor could not say that "I consider my B as good as so-and-so's A." Such a consummation is plainly not to be looked for; but we certainly demand that at this time, when every course is beginning, each instructor will state explicitly a few of the general principles which govern his individual marking system. The slightest pretensions to justice require such an explanation.