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Task Failed Successfully : A Pass/Fail 101

By Soumil Agarwal (UG23)

What is the Pass/Fail Policy?

In order to augment course experimentation among students, the OAA (Office of Academic Affairs) proposed the Pass/Fail Policy to the MAA (Ministry of Academic Affairs). This policy will allow students to have a “Pass” or “Fail” grade written on their transcript for specific courses instead of their actual grades. “Pass” – A grade of D- or above “Fail” – A grade below D-, basically an F.

What is the rationale behind this policy?

To increase course experimentation. This is not a COVID measure and is a permanent policy that will continue post-COVID as well.

Who can avail of this policy?

  1. Undergraduate: UG students can use this policy for a maximum of 8 credits for the duration of their course.

  2. ASP and MLS: ASP and MLS students can use this policy for a maximum of 4 credits for the duration of their course.

  3. MA and PhD: Not eligible

Note: This policy can be used for a maximum of 1 course per semester.

Which courses can we take the policy for?

Major/Minor courses, Foundation Courses (FCs) including Introduction to Critical Thinking (ICT) and Critical Thinking Seminars (CTS) courses. NOT applicable to Independent Study Modules (ISMs) and Capstone-related courses.

What is the deadline for opting for this policy?

For Monsoon 2020 Semester: A special accommodation has been made, the deadline for opting for the P/F policy being 29th November 2020. For further semesters: Week 8 is the stipulated deadline for opting for the P/F policy for the rest of the semesters.

Note: This deadline, i.e. week 8, coincides with the deadline for auditing a course.

What is the course-retake rule with this policy?

A student can retake a course only when they have a “Fail” for that course. In case of a “Pass”, a student cannot retake that course.

What about the Dean’s List and Latin Honours?

Dean’s List: If a student has opted for the P/F policy for a course, they will not be eligible for the Dean’s List for that semester. Latin Honours: A semester in which the P/F policy is opted for will count towards Latin Honours. However, the course for which P/F is taken will not count.

Will the “Pass” or “Fail” have any weightage on my GPA/CGPA?

A “Pass” will have no impact on the GPA/CGPA, whereas a “Fail”, being equivalent to a grade “F” in the transcript, will have an impact on the GPA/CGPA.

Certain things that still need to be made clear by the OAA

  1. Can students take a “Pass” or “Fail” for a course that they are retaking?

  2. If a student can in fact take a “Pass” or “Fail” for a course that they are retaking, which of the two grades—the previous one and the new one—will be counted towards the GPA?

NOTE : As per the new Academic Ministry update, the aforementioned has been clarified by the OAA :

“The official response is that a course that one retakes may be taken as a P/F. If it is then passed, the P will count, not the previous grade. This is in line with the policy as stated and circulated. Feel free to communicate this to students – as always, they are of course welcome to raise questions with the office if needed.”

Concerns by the student body regarding the Pass/Fail Policy

  1. The deadline for opting for this policy for the Monsoon 2020 Semester—29th November—is unfavourable and should be extended since this decision is a very crucial one and would require time on the part of the students. Furthermore, the newer batches, including UG’23, will face some problems in understanding this policy with its numerous caveats and technicalities and some additional time is important. Given that this is an online semester with its own challenges, the Ashokan grading system being new to the UG’23 batch, extending the deadline makes a lot of sense.

  2. The deadline to opt for this policy in the further semesters being set at Week 8 has multiple challenges for a student, including the fact that the mid-term results too are not out by then. Extending the deadline for further semester to a later date, when a student has a fair idea of how they are faring on a course would be extremely helpful.

  3. The term “Fail”, with its implications should be altered. Given that the purpose of this policy is course experimentation, a student will be apprehensive to use it, being afraid to fail in a course. The purpose of the policy is, hence, defeated. Furthermore, the “Fail”, like the “Pass” should not have any weightage on the GPA, the central purpose of the policy, again, being course experimentation.

  4. A student should be given the choice of withdrawing from this policy later if they wish to on a case-by-case basis, especially during the COVID semesters. Given the way and the rapidity with which situations change on a remote system of learning and in the middle of a pandemic, such a choice should be available with the students if they feel they will be able to give time to the respective course.

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