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Grade Category Options in the Moodle Gradebook

Grade categories are useful for grouping assignments together, calculating subtotals, and doing special calculations such as dropping the lowest grades. 

Category Settings

Category settings can be modified while creating a new category (To add a category, see Create & Organize Items & Categories in the Moodle Gradebook). To change the settings of an existing category:

  1. On your main course page in the Administration block, click Grades. The gradebook will open to the View tab.
  2. In the navigation tabs (at top), click Setup. The Categories and items page will open.
  3. Locate the row that contains the title of the category. In the Actions column (at right), click Edit.  The Edit settings drop-down menu will open.
  4. Click Edit settings (Edit category icon). The Edit category page will open. 
    Note: The Edit category settings for the course total can be found in the top row of the Categories and items table.
  5. Click Show more... to adjust these settings. (See below for an explanation of some of these options.
  6. When finished adjusting settings, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save changes.

Below are explanations of the most commonly used gradebook category settings.  For more advanced settings, please see Advanced Grade Item Options in the Moodle Gradebook.

Grade category

Category name: This name replaces the default "Category total" name that displays in the Grader report and the User report. This is useful when you use multiple categories so you can differentiate total columns.

Aggregation determines the kind of calculation used to compute the category total. For more information about aggregation methods, see Grade Calculation in Moodle.

  • Mean of grades: Average of all grade items in the category (the sum of all grades divided by the total number of grade items).
  • Custom weights: Each graded item is assigned a value used to determine the relative importance of the item in the overall calculation. The value does not need to be the same as the possible points for an item. If an item has a weight of "0," it will not be calculated in the total.
  • Natural: The sum of all grade values in the category.

Exclude empty grades controls what the category does when grade items have empty scores for individual students.

  • Selected (default): Empty grades are skipped in the calculation and do not count against students.
  • Deselected: Empty grades are calculated as "0".

Drop the lowest enables a specified number of the lowest grades to be excluded from the category total.

Note:  When using Natural weighting, drop the lowest is only allowed when:

  • all children of the category have equal weights
  • all children of the category have equal max grade
  • there are no sub categories in the category
  • there are no extra credit items in the category

Category total

Grade type allows you to determine the type of grade associated with this category.  There are four grade types:

  • None: No grading possible
  • Value: A numerical value with a maximum and minimum
  • Scale: An item in a list
  • Text: Feedback only
  • Letter: A letter value as defined in Grade administration > Letters

Maximum grade determines the maximum grade when using the Value grade type. The maximum grade for an activity-based grade item is set on the activity settings page.

Grade display controls how the category total will display in the Grader report and the User report

  • Letter: The numerical total converted to a letter value using the scale found on the Letters tab of the gradebook. To configure the letter scale used for this conversion, see Letter Grades in Moodle.

  • Percentage: The numerical total divided by the maximum possible points.
  • Real: The numerical total calculated by the category.

Overall decimal points determines the number of decimal points to display for each grade. This setting does not round values in calculations. If the category total is used in another calculation, the real numerical value will be used, which has an accuracy of 5 decimal places.

Parent category

Item weight is used in the category aggregation to influence the importance of the item compared with other grade items in the same category.