Extra credit

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This article is about the academic concept. For other uses, see Extra credit (disambiguation).

Extra credit is an academic concept, particularly used in American schools. Students are offered the opportunity to undertake optional work, additional to their compulsory school work, in order to gain additional credit that would boost their grades.[1]

Reasons for extra credit[edit]

Teachers employ extra credit for a variety of reasons. For example, it may be felt that students who are highly capable may benefit from additional challenge that might not be suitable as required work for all students. Extra credit may also be used as a way to allow a student to improve his or her grade after weak performance earlier in a course. In both of these cases, extra credit can promote differentiated instruction by factoring in optional work in the assessment of student performance.

Method of computation[edit]

Typically, participation in extra credit can only improve one's grade. Points might be added to an existing activity, for example, if the student correctly answers a more difficult portion of a test than would be required to meet the objectives of a unit. Optional activities may also add points or marks used in an overall grade computation. This may, for example, increase the numerator of the fraction used in computing an overall percentage, while leaving the denominator unchanged. This can lead to grade percentages that exceed 100% unless the policy used for grade computations caps a grade at a maximum value.

Controversial aspects[edit]

Author Julia G. Thompson refers to extra credit as "a controversial topic for teachers."[2] In California, during late 2006, there was controversy when students were offered extra credits simply for buying course books in an effort to overcome a lack of resources.[3] In 2002, in Pennsylvania, a student took part in an anti-abortion demonstration in order to gain additional credits.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

The concept has been featured in a titular role in various works of fiction, including Amber Brown Wants Extra Credit[5] and the Degrassi: Extra Credit series.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Lucas, Sandra Goss; Bernstein, Douglas A. (2004), Teaching Psychology, p. 36 
  2. ^ Julia G. Thompson, "Extra Credit Dilemmas and Solutions," The First-year Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day (Wiley_Default, 2007), 279.
  3. ^ "For credit, students go buy the book", Shirley Dang, Contra Costa Times, 3 November 2006
  4. ^ "Students take to the streets for cause - and extra credit", Matthew P. Blanchard, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 15, 2002
  5. ^ Richard Brightfield and Paula Danziger, Amber Brown Wants Extra Credit (Scholastic, 1997).
  6. ^ Ed Northcott and J. Torres, Extra Credit: Turning Japanese (Simon and Schuster, 2006).
  7. ^ Ramon Perez and J. Torres, Suddenly Last Summer: Degrassi Extra Credit #2 (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
  8. ^ Eric Kim and J. Torres, Degrassi Extra Credit: Missing You (Simon and Schuster, 2007).