Grading Scale

This is the basic grading scale I use when reviewing something here at The Null Set.

  • 12/12 Perfect
  • 11.5/12 Nearly Perfect
  • 11/12 A+
  • 10.5/12 Strong A
  • 10/12 A
  • 9/12 A-
  • 8/12 B+
  • 7/12 B
  • 6/12 B-
  • 5/12 C+
  • 4/12 C
  • 3/12 D
  • 2/12 F
  • 1/12 Epic Fail

This scale reflects a couple of ideas I have in grading things.

The first is that I dislike grading scales where the average score is far from the median of the scale. I find it absurd, for example, that in most percentage scales that are used that a 59% is a failing grade. That means that over half of this grading scale is hardily even used and, when it is used, all that it’s measuring is the degree of failure. Then, after having the lowest 59% of the scale used for failure, a mere 16% more (for a total of 75%) signals the “average”.

So, for my 12 point grade scale, I anchored what I consider an “average” work (anime, book, etc.) at the middle of the scale at a 6/12. I likened this to a grade of B- because these works are created by professionals and should show at least a degree of success akin to earning a B- in a school setting. Which means a score of 5/12 and below not only is less than half of the possible score, but, is something that I consider below normal.

Second, I needed a fine enough scale that I could differentiate the levels of quality I found in grading something without it being too obtuse. I quickly discovered that a 10 point grading scale, like what MyAnimeList uses, does not give me enough choices. I needed more. I thought about going to a 100 point system but quickly discarded this as way too much. What’s the difference between an 82 and 83? I asked myself. Basically nothing, I answered and depending on my mood I could see a reviewed work fluctuate a few points. Similarly, I wasn’t going to use a ten point system with decimals. What’s the difference between a 8.2 and 8.3? Basically nothing.

I discovered that I needed 14 levels to my scoring system to group works of similar quality levels in distinct enough levels that the difference in score meant something while also minimizing the differences between works that scored the same.

Now, all I needed to do was give these levels a number value and equivalent alphabetic level. I wish that I didn’t need the two half scores (10.5 and 11.5) but I just couldn’t see not including these levels. Maybe more thought needs to be given to my scale.

I should note that my grading scale here and my grades on MyAnimeList don’t mesh especially well. This comes from the difference in number of levels in the two grading scales and because the scales are grading slightly different things. My max score of 12/12 is for something that’s “Perfect”, whereas, the max score of 10/10 at MyAnimeList is something that’s a “Masterpiece”. These two words very often overlap but not always.

Secondary Scores

Separate from the overall score are several secondary scores; these scores are not used in a rigid way to determine the final score but scoring lowly in one might indirectly show why the overall score was the level it was.

The first one is used just for my first impression scores for anime. It’s called the show’s initial Anticipation Level and it measures how well the show hooks me into watching the rest of series.

The next 3 are all used for my series review. Two are relatively new and thus most of my reviews don’t include them yet. When I can, I will go back and add them into the posts.  These would the Ending score and the Animation score. Since I won’t go into detail about a show’s ending for the sake of remaining as spoiler-free as possible the Ending score is my way of giving the reader the knowledge how well the show ended without giving it away. The Animation score is there because while I’m fairly tolerant of quality of the animation when grading a show, others are not. Once again, this is okay – I’m not some sort of snob that thinks my point of view is the only right one. If the reader is one that requires good animation then they can use my animation score to adjust my overall score up or down in their mind as they see fit.

The third score is Rewatchablity and it measures how likely the title will be rewatched in the future. This score came about because not every great show will be rewatched in the future. For example, the movie Grave of Fireflies is a stunningly great movie but also one that is so depressing that I’ll never willing watch it again. This subscore can be used in guestimating if a particular show is worth owning on DVD since a show that only gets watched once is hardily worth buying on DVD. For me a score of Medium is the lower threshold of a show’s worthiness in buying in DVD format.

Both the Ending and Animation scores are out of 5 and I’ll detail them below. First, though, for both Anticipation Level and Rewatchability, I used to just use a verbal score but as of June 2009, I will also make these scores out of 5. Both sets of 5 will mean similar things but with slightly different verbal meanings to better match the category. Thus:

Scale Ending and Animation Anticipation Level and Rewatchability
5/5 Epic Very High
4.5/5 Sublime High
4/5 Excellent Medium – High
3.5/5 Very Good Medium
3/5 Good Average – Medium
2.5/5 Average Average
2/5 Sub-par Below Average
1.5/5 Disappointing Below Average – Low
1/5 Profoundly deficient Low
0.5/5 Horrible Very Low
0/5 Epic Fail None

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