Q: English is not my strong subject. What should I do to get a course grade of 3.5 GPA or above?

A: According to the Marking and Grading Conversion System by the University of Alberta, 3.5 equals A-. To reach this goal, it is critical to get at least B+ for your essay. A junior English course offered at the University of Alberta requires that students write two essays during the term which occupies 50% or more of the term grade.


Q: What is the average English essay mark junior university students get?

A: Very roughly, it's at the range of C+/B-. Most A/A+ students in high schools are surprised to see themselves drop to this range. It's not because they write worse after entering into universities, or because university professors are "hard markers" as people complain. Rather, students often don't know there's a gap between the ways in which essay writing is taught in high schools and in universities, and they need a transitional preparation to achieve academic success in English, which is not usually available in junior English classes. 


Q: What is key to getting an essay mark of B+ or higher?

A: On a short term basis, it'll be helpful to revise your draft at least two times and to have your friends, parents, or your professors read your draft and offer suggestions of improvement. On a long term basis, it's important to learn how to read and think critically and how to transfer your critical reading and thinking to critical writing on your computer sceen.


Q: What is critical reading, thinking, and writing?

A: In the specific context of university junior English courses, critical reading and thinking means to "read and think against the grain." For instance, when everyone praises the beauty of Barbie, a critical thinker may have an insight of the destructive forces the Barbie image emits: the construction of skinniness as a kind of feminine beauty may lead to eating disorder among young girls. Don't we often hear girls and women -- those skinny ones -- crying "I need to lose weight"?


What is your question? Drop a line to ceculturelink@gmail.com to join the conversation!

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