Research Article

Grade Inflation at Saudi Universities Before, During and After the Pandemic: A Comparative Study



This study investigates grade inflation in 127 language, linguistics, translation, education, and computer courses taught at some Saudi universities before, during and after the Pandemic. Grades obtained from some instructors for courses taught over 8 semesters were analyzed. It was found that between 20% 65% chose a pass/no-grade results, the rest of the students mostly earned A & B grades in Spring 2020 when instruction and assessment were held online compared to students’ grade in Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, and after the Pandemic (in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022). Grade inflation was the highest in computer courses followed by education courses and was the least in language, linguistics, and translation courses. Grade inflation in Spring 2020 was due to the adjustments mandated by universities to alleviate students’ anxiety caused by the sudden shift to online teaching and assessment. Universities allocated 20% of the course marks to final exams, gave alternatives to a written final and to be lenient in grading. Students had the option to drop the course or have a pass with no-grade result. In Fall 2020, classes were still held online but exams were held on campus. Starting Fall 2021, both instruction and exams were held on campus. Mark distribution and exam requirements went back to normal as before the Pandemic. However, grade inflation continued in many courses even in Spring 2022. The study gives recommendations for maintaining exam reliability, validity, and fairness in emergency and normal situations to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Article information


Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies

Volume (Issue)

4 (4)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2022). Grade Inflation at Saudi Universities Before, During and After the Pandemic: A Comparative Study. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies, 4(4), 111–125.



Grade inflation, COVID-19 Pandemic, online assessment, online exams, distance education, online instructions, learning assessment, learning outcomes, emergency exam procedures, emergency assessment adjustments.