# How can I say "grade on a curve"?

The Future for Chinese/English Dictionaries mentioned that MDBG doesn't have "grading on a curve", and it seems that it's still rather hard to find a translation for this. A rather literal translation might be "按曲线评分". Here are some suggestions from around the web:

• Wikipedia: 拉curve、常模参照、拉曲线
• Canvas Help: 评分曲线
• Blackboard Help: 曲线成绩

What are the most usual terms for "grading on a curve" or "to curve" (i.e., to grade on a curve, usually with the effect of raising grades, possibly by a set number of points rather than to fit a predetermined distribution of grades), both the practice (noun) and the action (verb)?

I guess it's telling that Wikipedia named their article "拉curve" rather than something with only Chinese characters, and the article was created as late as September 2019, so perhaps there is no established term in Chinese?

If you're not familiar with grading on a curve, here is the description from Wikipedia:

In education, relative grading, marking on a curve (BE) or grading on a curve (AE, CE) (also referred to as curved grading, bell curving, or using grading curves) is a method of assigning grades to the students in a class in such a way as to obtain or approach a pre-specified distribution of these grades having a specific mean and derivation properties, such as a normal distribution (also called Gaussian distribution).1 The term "curve" refers to the bell curve, the graphical representation of the probability density of the normal distribution, but this method can be used to achieve any desired distribution of the grades – for example, a uniform distribution.

It is called 标准分. Its opposite is called 原始分.

Its calculation method might be different from curved scores, but the logic is the same.

The problem is, in China, modified scores are rarely used. Original scores are used in almost all situations. So the word for the curved score is not wildly used.

And letters grades (优，良，中，差，及格，不及格) are usually only considered as additional information because original scores are almost always available. So usually grades are not very important but the original scores are. The original scores are usually out of 100, 120, or 150.

• 标准分 translates to "standard score" (which usually means z-score—the number of standard deviations above the mean—but not always) or "standardized score", and 原始分 to "raw score". It does seem like these might be better understood than a direct translation of "curved grades".
– mic
Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 21:44

I guess you wouldn’t refer to the system using the term “grading on the curve” in Chinese. It is more common to refer to the bell curve itself, and then talk about the grade associated with it.

Notice how “拉curve” is used in the context of Hong Kong. Code-switching is rather common in Hong Kong, and locals like to use words from both English and Chinese to express more abstract concepts. The mixing of English and Chinese terms is something which is socially acceptable there, and might not be suitable for your purposes, if you are searching for a term in pure Chinese.

The other Chinese terms you mention are mainly used in Hong Kong, and are quite unknown elsewhere.

The bell curve is also known as the 常态分布 (normal distribution) or 高斯分布 (Gaussian distribution).

I opine the problem is with trying to force-fit an English expression into Chinese.

P.S. It turns out that a variety of relative grades can be obtained from the bell curve. This document explains the relationship. Relative evaluation can be translated as 相对评价法.

Verbally I sometimes say “平均”（averaged) as a noun.

But as an adjective, I would use “” (pull-up)

For example: “老师平均了我的分数。本来是不及格。可是他帮我拉到了65分。” "The teacher averaged my score. It was going to fail. But he pulled me up to 65 points."

• Although "平均" is more of something I attempted to translate based just on my knowledge of Chinese. Commented Jan 29 at 4:34