Instructor Support for Educational Systems

Create Grade Categories

Updated Jul 16, 2021

In this article we will explain what Grade Categories are, when to use them and how you can create Grade Categories.

What are Grade Categories?

Grade Categories organize and group related grade items into categories in your gradebook. For example, a Writing Assignments Category with group assignment items or a Class Participation Category with group discussion items.  

Grade Categories are also useful if you want only the highest grade (for example, a resit) to count for the final calculated grade in a Weighted Grading System. Please note that this does not work with every type of Grade Item, only with the Numeric, Selectbox and Pass/Fail Grade Items.

What types of Grade Categories are there?

The Grade Items in the grade category determine the type of grade category, and what the grade category can be used for. There are 2 types of category. To explain the difference between the 2 types, we will call them the calculating category and the organisational category


  • Calculating category: Grade categories that calculate the subtotal of that grade category and use this subtotal in the final grade calculation. This is the case for the Numeric, Selectbox and Pass/Fail grade items.
  • Organisational category: Grade categories that DO NOT calculate a subtotal of the grade category and the category itself therefore has no effect on the final grade calculation. The grade items in this category are still taken into consideration for the final grade calculation, but it makes no difference that these items are in a grade category. The organisational grade category purely exists to help organise your gradebook. This is the case for the Formula, Text and Calculated grade items. 

For example, the category Assignments has 2 Grade Items, both Numeric, called Assignment 1 and Assignment 2. Because these Grade Items are Numeric, a subtotal of these 2 grade items is calculated. For the final grade calculation, the subtotal of this grade category will be taken into account, instead of the individual Grade Items. 

The category Formulas also has 2 Grade Items, but both of the Formula type, called Formula 1 and Formula 2. Because they are both Formula Grade items, no Subtotal is calculated. For the final grade calculation, both Grade items will be taken into account. 

The rest of this manual is based on the Numeric type Grade Item.

Get to work with Grade Categories

After you have completed Setting up the Gradebook for the first time with the Grades Setup Wizard you can create Grade Categories, in which you can group Grade Items.

How do I create a Grade Category?

ScreenSteps - Google Chrome

Navigate to Grades > Manage Grades. Next, select New and click on Category. 

ScreenSteps - Google Chrome

Next, enter a name for your Grade Category.

ScreenSteps - Google Chrome
  1. Enter the total weight (in percentage) that you want the category to contribute towards the final grade.
  2. Choose the desired Distribution.
ScreenSteps - Google Chrome

Adjust the Display Options as desired.

Finally click on Save and Close!

What Distribution should I choose?

Manually assign weight to items in the category

Select Manually assign weight to items in the category when Grade Items within a Category have a different weight. Note that Grade Items in a category should combine to a weight of 100%.

As shown above:

  1. We have a Category 'Midterm', that counts for 10% for the Final Grade.
  2. Within that Category we have a Grade Item 'Midterm MC questions' that consists of 25 points and counts for 25% within that category.
  3. And a Grade Item 'Midterm Essay Question' that consists of 10 points and counts for 75% within that category.

Distribute weights by points across all items in the category

This works the same way as Manually assign weight to items in the category, but instead of setting the weights yourself, weights are set depending on the maximum points of the grade items.

As shown above:

  1. We have a Category 'Midterm', that counts for 10% for the Final Grade.
  2. Within that Category we have a Grade Item 'Midterm MC questions' that consists of 25 points.
  3. And a Grade Item Midterm Essay Question that consists of 10 points.

As you can see in the last column the weights are automatically distributed based on the number of points of the Grade Items.

Distribute weight evenly across all items and drop the lowest grade

ScreenSteps - Google Chrome

Select Distribute weight evenly across all items and enter a '1' in the box of Number of lowest non-bonus items to drop for each user. With the category configured as above, the lowest grade will be dropped.

This is the way to go if you want to set up Resits in a Weighted Grading System. See here for more information.

When should I use Grade Categories?

As soon as you want to work with Resits in your course with a Weighted Grading System, you'll need to work with Grade Categories. 

Another good reason to work with Grade Categories, is to structure your Gradebook. Especially if you have a lot of grade items in your course.   

Previous Article Setting up the Gradebook for the first time with the Grades Setup Wizard
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