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5 Things to Consider When Switching a Class from Letter Grading to Pass/No Pass


You’ve probably recently been hearing everyone obsess over what classes to enroll in for spring quarter, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. We’re still in winter quarter, and you have until Friday (of sixth week) to change the grading basis of a course from either a letter grade to Pass/No Pass or the other way around. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to submit a Late Change of Credit Detail petition, but on its handy website, UCLA College Academic Counseling mentions that “these petitions are rarely granted.” If you’re thinking about changing the grading option for a class, here are five very important things to consider before making the change official.

1. What are your plans for after you graduate?

If you’re planning on applying to graduate school, medical school or law school, it is absolutely crucial that you do your research and check how these schools will look at Pass/No Pass classes. While UCLA simply does not count these Pass/No Pass classes into your GPA at all, graduate schools, law schools and medical schools all count Pass/No Pass classes differently when it comes to calculating your GPA. Don’t rely on forums for this information; instead, check the official admissions website for the program or schools you wish to apply to.

2. What other classes are you taking?

Because we cannot take classes for our majors as Pass/No Pass, whenever we consider changing the grading option for a class, most of the time, it’s for an elective or a GE. You are most likely going to put more importance on the classes you are taking for your major, so you must take this into account when considering how much study time you will have to focus on your other classes. Ultimately, everyone’s academic situation and tolerance levels are different, so it is important that you make your own decisions.

3. How will changing the grading option affect your GPA?

Does your GPA need an extra boost? If you’re in this boat and taking a class as an elective or a GE, doing exceedingly well in this class has the potential to affect your GPA in a positive way, as long as you take the class for a letter grade. Pass/No Pass classes are not counted into your GPA. This can go both ways: you are relieved of the stress of having the class affect your GPA in any way, but you also forfeit the opportunity to benefit from taking the class for a letter grade and receiving a high grade.

4. Have you looked at your finals schedule for this quarter?

For most classes, the final exam usually has the biggest effect on the final grade you receive in a class. Although the midterms for your classes may magically be spread out and give you enough time in between to dedicate yourself to preparing for every midterm and completing each assignment on time, finals for classes are unfortunately all crammed into a single week. It is definitely a good idea to check the schedule of your final exams so you can determine realistically how much effort and time you will be able to put into studying for each final. For example, if you have back-to-back finals, one of them being an elective and the other a major class, it may be wise to consider taking the elective as Pass/No Pass, so that you can dedicate more time studying for your major class and don’t have to sacrifice a blow to your GPA.

5. How many Pass/No Pass classes have you already taken?

The UCLA College Academic Counseling website states that you may take no more than five units of Pass/No Pass each quarter, as long as you have a 2.0 overall GPA and a 2.0 GPA from the quarter before. If you don’t take any classes Pass/No Pass one quarter, then you can take 10 units Pass/No Pass the next quarter. Take into account that the primary purpose of the Pass/No Pass option is to allow students to take classes that interest them outside their majors without straining their GPAs. Try to not make your decision entirely based on numbers, but use the option as an encouragement to take classes that appeal to you. Also, remember that most graduate schools won’t want to see Ps (hopefully no NPs) all over your transcript.

After you’ve asked yourself these five questions, do some research. It may seem arduous, but it’s worth it. The Pass/No Pass grading option is something that every undergraduate at UCLA should consider taking advantage of.


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