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Three point something – MBA courses/CGPA and their grading methodology

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I was just ruminating on my IIFT roller coaster ride completed over two years ago and was pondering over their associated letter grades that they had assigned over my three trimesters over a span of 1.5 years and another three months for my research project (which was a 6-credit course).

My IIFT EMIB CGPA was 3.63/4 and I was in the top 10% of my class of practicing managers across the country, with an average class work experience of over 10 years.

What is the value of this figure is what I was trying to analyze.

We all know that theoretical knowledge is of no use so where does this 3.63 fit in? What is the significance of letter grades?

First off, it gives companies and the person evaluating you a metric to compare your performance with others in comparable fields. We all have performance appraisals and this is a kind of a performance appraisal system.

Moreover, it does indeed bring to the fore the committment and dedication put in by the students vis-a-vis their counterparts who pass through without significant effort because the MBA grading system is done well with emphasis given on continuous evaluation on assignments/quizzes as opposed to older traditional forms where final exminations are like a final hit (you score well there and you are done and you mess up there and you are history!)

In most intelligent MBA curriculums, assignments and quizzes carry a 60% weightage which is good. I believe it reflects the true performance and committment of the students on the entire duration of the course as opposed to the last minute hitters who strike gold in other primitive forms of education.

Coming back to the all important number, 3.63. Three point something.

I believe it is an important metric and I would go more by the practical experience of the person having a three point something out of the theoretical maximum 4.

Grades are letter grades from A to F with a 0.33 spread for A+ or A- and so on.

Look at the practical takeaway the candidates have when they have such glamorous letter grades. Don’t go blindly by the numbers. Look at their usage of that course to their advantage in career advancement or learning. What value have they added to themselves over the course of time they have acquired the degree and become “freshly minted MBA’s”.

Value them for what they bring to the table and not for what their grades say but at the same time be rest assured that a person wih a high CGPA or consistent letter grade has been more systematic/committed (if you are looking for those qualities in that person) in one’s course duration than a person who has been a low scorer and it does not mean a thing more than that. But, then you need to ask the candidate questions such as:

– What made you score low/high?

– Why the inconsistency in grades?

– Why do your grades vary significantly over the average (high levels of variance)? Remember Jack Welch’s adage – in people differentation is everything, in manufacturing, we try to stamp out variance.

– What was the class profile?

– What was the type of course?

– What were the rigours of the course?

– How were the professors coaching?

and the list goes on. But you know, you need to be reading into more than just the numbers or letter grades. Those numbers can sometimes tell you valuable things about a person’s committment when you dig deeper so don’t be blindly impressed by a Harvard MBA, look at what skills one brings to the table and if the person has indeed earned that degree with dedication/committment.

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Written by Naveen Athresh

July 12, 2008 at 5:52 pm

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