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Slang Dictionary: Curve

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What Does "Curve" Mean

What Does “Curve” Mean?

“Curve” is a slang term used to describe a situation in which someone, typically a teacher or professor, adjusts or “curves” the grading scale for an exam or assignment to make it easier. It often implies that the adjustment is made to boost the scores of students who performed poorly.

Related Words

Related slang words to “curve” include “grade inflation,” “bell curve,” and “grading leniency.” These terms are often used when discussing the grading practices in educational settings.

Where Does This Term Come From?

The term “curve” in the context of grading comes from the visual representation of a curved line on a graph. In a typical grading curve, the distribution of scores resembles a bell-shaped curve. Professors sometimes adjust the grades to fit this curve, making it easier for students who struggled.

Who Uses This Term?

“Curve” is commonly used among students and educators in academic settings. Students might discuss it when hoping for a more lenient grading scale, while teachers and professors use it when considering adjustments to exam scores.

Examples of Using This Term

  1. “I really hope the professor decides to curve the final exam; I didn’t do well on it.”
  2. “The teacher decided to put a curve on the grades because the test was too difficult.”
  3. “The grading curve made a significant difference in my final grade.”

What to Replace This Term within Academic Writing

In academic writing, it’s important to maintain a formal tone. Instead of using “curve,” you can describe the situation more formally by saying “adjust the grading scale” or “apply a grading curve.” This ensures clarity and professionalism in your writing.

“Sometimes, a little curve can make a big difference in a student’s academic journey.” – Educator Jane Smith


“Curve” is a slang term commonly used in educational contexts to describe the practice of adjusting grading scales to benefit students. While it can be a source of relief for struggling students, it’s essential to recognize that grading practices can vary, and not all educators use this method. In formal writing, it’s best to use more precise language to convey the same concept.