Grade disparity between sections at UIUC

Originally published on May 13, 2017 by Devin Oliver, Johnny Guo, Joe Tan, Jerry Li, Tina Abraham, Andy (Tianyue) Mao, Kara Landolt, Nathan Cho, and Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider
Updated for Fall 2022 Registration on April 13, 2022 by Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider


One of the most frustrating situations to find yourself in is a coursewhere all of your friends are in the "easier section". For most of us, it feels like this happens all of the time. This visualization is the second in a series of GPA visualizations created to explore the grades given by courses at The University of Illinois.

Using GPA data from the most recent eight full semesters (Fall 2017 through Fall 2021, including summers/winters when available), we found the distribution of every section/instructor group within every course. For example, Calculus I (MATH 221) has been taught by seven different primary instructors recently. We found the following distributions:

(Highest Avg. Grades)(Lowest Avg. Grades)
Instructors with average grades significantly lower than the average grade for a course have increasing red hues.
Final 5%
The darkest shading shows the median grades in a course, with each lighter showing grades further from the median.

External Impact

In the preparation of this work, we found other factors — including the time of day of the lecture and if the course was in-person or online — also have a major contribution to the final grades in a course. We hope others will dive deeper into these factors in the future.

Find Your Course

Type the subject for any course at UIUC (eg: CS for Computer Science) to find the disparity of grades between different sections of a course: