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Universities across the United States have been using the Pass/Fail grading system for a variety of reasons and in many different ways. There are so many uses of the system as there are universities.

In general, universities have used the Pass/Fail grading system to: help reduce stress and pressure on students; provide more flexibility in course selection and encourage students to explore and pursue interest without fear of damaging their GPA; reduce perceived discrimination and bias in grading, providing more equitable opportunities for all students regardless of race, socioeconomic status or prior academic background; and to improve retention rates by reducing the risk of failing a course and being unable to complete a degree or program. The case is made for a Pass/Fail grading system and suggested options are identified.

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Eastern Illinois University


Charleston, IL


Alternative grading, EIU Think Tank, +/- grading system, retention, equity


Higher Education

The Strategic Application of Alternative Grading to Improve Retention and Enhance Equity (Spring 2023)