Grading and collaboration policy

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Collaboration policy

You may collaborate with other students on your problem sets so as to come up with general ideas on how to implement things, but your code must be your own. Aside from the standard code that comes with the problem set, all the code you submit must have been written by you, with an understanding of what it does. We get very sore if we catch someone cheating.

Grade distribution

We do not grade on a curve, and because there will be little or no time pressure on the quizzes and the final, we expect the grade distribution to reflect understanding. In past years, we have seen a great deal of understanding.

Grading policy


Your grade in 6.034 will be calculated as the weighted average of eight scores:

  • max(Quiz 1 - core, Final part 1 - core)
  • max(Quiz 2 - core, Final part 2 - core)
  • max(Quiz 3 - core, Final part 3 - core)
  • max(Quiz 4 - core, Final part 4 - core)
  • max(Quiz 2 - spiritual and right now, Final part 2 - spiritual and right now)
  • max(Quiz 3 - spiritual and right now, Final part 3 - spiritual and right now)
  • max(Quiz 4 - spiritual and right now, Final part 4 - spiritual and right now)
  • Average problem set grade

The scores are weighted such that the core material sections make up 4/7 of your final grade, spiritual and right now sections make up 2/7 of your final grade, and problem sets are 1/7.

The "spiritual" part refers to lectures not consider part of the core skill set; the "right-now" part refers to lectures given by what's-happening-right-now lecturers.

See Reference material and playlist for assignment of material to quizzes.

All of these scores will be on a 1-5 scale, averaged together like a GPA. The 1-5 scale is not based on a class average -- we do not calculate class averages -- but rather on what the instructors consider the scores to mean:

5 Thorough understanding of the topic
4 Acceptable understanding of the topic
3 Some understanding of the topic
2 or 1 Poor understanding of the topic

You will get an A if your average score is 4.5 or higher, a B if it is 3.5 or higher, but below 4.5, and so on. If you are near one of the transition points, your tutorial instructor can decide whether to round your grade up or down based on your class participation. See Winston's article in the Faculty News Letter for more discussion


There are four 1-hour quizzes, held in the same time slot as lectures. Quiz 1 will contain solely core material (material from Professor Winston's lectures), and Quizzes 2-4 will contain both core and "right now" material (material from the Friday "right now" lectures).

There are also seven sections of the final, corresponding to the core and right now parts on each of the quizzes, which are treated somewhat independently.

The grades you receive for each core or right now section are the maximum of your quiz grade on that section and your grade on the corresponding section of the final. If you do well on a quiz section, you need not do the corresponding section of the final. You may decide not to take a quiz with a view toward taking the corresponding parts of the final, but we do not recommend this option.

Note that the maximizing is by quiz and final section, not by problem or topic. If you get a perfect score on one question of a quiz section, and a zero on the other, you will have to do well on the entire corresponding section of the final to improve your score.


If you have to miss a quiz for any reason (sickness, family emergency, conference, job interview, another quiz), you need not contact us about how to make it up later. We will just tell you that you already have a way to make it up, which is to do the corresponding section on the final examination.


Sometimes we will make mistakes when grading your quiz. You may submit your quiz back to us to be regraded, by talking to your TA. Regrade requests must be submitted before the next quiz. Regrades can only result in increasing your grade: even if we find something where your grade should have been lower, we will not take off additional points in the regrade.

Problem sets

Problem sets are submitted as Python programs, and are graded automatically.

Every problem set comes with a file called "", which you use both to test and to submit your code. It has an "offline" and an "online" (or "submit") mode, which may or may not contain the same test cases. When you use the online tester, you receive your grade automatically. You can always resubmit to try to improve your grade.

Sometimes, the tester will generate random test cases. The point is to make sure that your code is actually doing the right thing, not doing just barely enough to pass the public tests.

Hard-coding the answers is cheating. Don't do it.

Problem set grades

As stated above, problem sets count for 1/7 of your grade.

Problem sets are graded on a 5 point scale. If you pass all the online tests, you get a 5. If you miss one online test, you get a 4. (Remember that you can fix the bug and try again!) From there, your grade decreases linearly at a slower rate with the number of test cases you miss.

You can view all of your grades for submitted problem sets on the lab grades page.

It is your responsibility to make sure that your code was submitted correctly. We will not fix your grade when you realize a month later that you didn't actually submit your problem set.

Submitting your problem set code

When you test your problem set online, you also send a copy of your problem set directory to the server. Make sure that this directory actually contains all the code you wrote to solve the problem set. If you mess it up, submit again. Even though we have an automated grader, we do like to look at your problem sets ourselves sometimes.

Late problem sets

You can submit late problem sets at any time for some credit. Your grade for a late problem set has a half-life of one week. The equation is:

(your lab grade)*(0.5)^(t/7)

Where t is the number of days late. The table below shows examples of the maximum grade as a function of days late. No extensions are granted for problem sets unless there is a medical emergency with official documentation.

Days Late Best possible Grade
0 5.0
1/24 (1 hour) 4.98
1/2 (12 hours) 4.76
1 4.53
2 4.10
3 3.71
4 3.36
5 3.05
6 2.76
7 2.5
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