336: Priorities

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You should start giving out 'E's so I can spell FACADE or DEFACED.
Title text: You should start giving out 'E's so I can spell FACADE or DEFACED.


In this comic, Cueball is a student, who apparently didn't turn in his homework assignment repeatedly, for which he gets a warning from his Cueball-like teacher.

In some schools in the United States, a student's grades are determined mainly using letters for quick reference. In most schools, the letter grades are given as follows:

A — 100%–90%
B — 89%–80%
C — 79%–70%
D — 69%–60%
F — 59%–0%

Traditionally, these schools send 'report cards' in which the student's current grading of the semester or even the entirety of the class the student is taking is denoted using these letters, for example:

English — A
Mathematics — D
Science — B
Social Studies — B
World Building — C

The student may have noted that, if he aims for certain scoring (for example: altering the quality of his homework or even sending out his homework only at the times needed for his grades to reach a certain level), he could make the report card spell every letter grade in alphabetical order. Deriving from the previous example, the student would aim for the following report card:

English — A
Mathematics — B
Science — C
Social Studies — D
World Building — F

Interestingly, since in some schools even a 0% grade would produce the required 'F' grade, the student does not need to work at all (not even turn in any school assignments) to get the required 'F' grade, this leading to the situation presented in the comic above. Rather than a letter upon a continuum (as it might be assumed if 'E' were not skipped) it is generally accepted that 'F' actually stands for 'Failed' and covers any situation where insufficient credit was gained to obtain any other letter-grade. There are some schools, though, where turning in nothing would result in the class being marked "incomplete" or "inc" instead of having a grade shown at all.

The title text references that, not only can the grades in the report card inadvertently spell out certain words (for example: 'CAB' or 'FAD'), but also that the letter grade system denoted omits the letter 'E' in standard letter grading. The reason for the missing "E" is complex and explained in this Slate article. However, this is not universal in the United States: Ohio State University, for example, uses 'E' for failing.


[A teacher, holding a book, is talking to a student, sitting at a desk and holding a document of his own.]
Teacher: If you don't turn in at least one homework assignment, you'll fail this class.
Student: Yeah. But if I can fail this class, the grades on my report card will be in alphabetical order!

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By the way, 'Word Building' is 'Etymology,' or again, studying how words are formed. (School of Tomorrow is very thorough on teaching people the power of words...) Greyson (talk) 20:18, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Somehow our county (and many neighboring ones) uses A-E, no F. It's probably one of those watering-down things about how failure crushes self-esteem. Everything else is the same. --Quicksilver (talk) 19:29, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

County? And here we only have A to D! 13:22, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

Don't sonic games additionally have an S grade?--Church (talk) 12:33, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

And don't get me started on Devil May Cry, that have from D to A, then S, SS and SSS. 21:40, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Math is spelled wrong, and what in the world is World Building? I recommend "Foreign Language" or a specific one like "French." 20:37, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

"World Building" is a nicer sounding name for the class "Creative Writing"

Regarding the title text, spelling words with only letters A-F is something that I have done a lot when bored in class with my calculator, which can do hexadecimal. Unlike on report cards, one can also use digits like 5 or 1 as letters like S and I. I hope this is something common, as it can be very entertaining when the teacher keeps on talking about boring topics you already know about. 13:30, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

The grade numbers that correspond to letter grades can be different than those listed depending on the region. For instance, the schools I attended in San Antonio would have C = 75 to 79 and D = 70 to 74. Anything 69 or less was an F. Iguanabob (talk) 13:03, 14 June 2016 (UTC)

As I found it worth editing in the (not necessarily canonical) 'F'=='Failed' idiom, I will add that over this side of the pond the predominant scaling system for many people's qualifications has tended to use various lengths of scales from 'A' to 'E' (for O-Levels, previously numbered '1-5' or thereabouts, as similarly were the alternate examination system, called CSEs) or even through to 'G' (for the rationalising successor to both those other systems, now called GCSEs). 'U' ('Ungraded') was the catch-all for those that failed to even get upon that standard scale. The 'A*' was then introduced for the topmost GCSE 'A'-grades, trying and failing to prevent 'straight A students' from clumping together without differentiation (getting straight A*s seemed just as possible, for the right students, and grade-inflation critics just had a new top-target to complain about being too easy to get). Recently, there's been a conversion to a numeric scale (9, best; 1, worst? Dunno if zero gets used as the 'new U') but I've been away from education too long to know the full details. But I'm sure if you want to know more about this increasingly off-topic Trivia then you can easily look up the precise current/historic details. 20:49, 18 January 2022 (UTC)