Guidelines for Undergraduate Graders

Go to the Department Application | Go to the Application


Undergraduate paper graders make an important contribution to the educational process. Their efforts allow mathematics students practice key skills through extensive homework problem sets, and to receive prompt feedback about their level of understanding.

This document sets out important information about the duties of undergraduate graders who work for the Mathematics Department, and of the instructors for whom they grade. It does not determine departmental policy respecting the allocation of graders to courses; that is the responsibility of the department chair.

Graders and Instructors should read both sections of this document. The first section describes what instructors may expect from their graders, and the second describes what graders may expect from the instructors who supervise them.

To Apply:

You must complete BOTH the Department Application and the Application to apply to be an undergraduate grader.  Note: Please only apply for the current semester, as we will not process any applications for future semesters.

1) Department Application Instructions: 

Please click the first link at the top right of this page which says, "Go to the Department Application." Fill in all of the boxes.  Regarding the two questions at the bottom:  A full time student is one that has enrolled in 12 credits or more.  After that is a question about the I-9 form.  The I-9 form is the Employment Eligibility Verification Form from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form. All students must fill out this form when they are hired. Here is a link to the I-9 form.

2) Application Instructions: 

Please click the link above which says, "Go to the Application."  Under Keywords type Grader, then enter.  Look for Grader-Mathematics.  (Make sure it is for the current year and University Park.)  Choose "Apply to this job" below.  When applying, please use your PSU email address.  Be sure to apply to BOTH applications or you will not be considered.

Instructor Expectations of Graders

  • Instructors should expect prompt and timely return of graded homework within at most 5 days of its delivery to the grader. They should set deadlines for this. Note that a minimum of 48 hours should be given to a grader to complete each grading task.
  • Instructors should expect grades and marks to be tabulated neatly.
  • The instructor should provide appropriate class lists on which the student can record the grades.
  • Instructors may expect graders to report on errors commonly made by students in the class. Instructors should discuss the nature of such reports with graders at their initial meeting.
  • Instructors should not expect graders to solve homework problems on their own. A detailed answer key should be provided. If partial credit is to be given, the answer key should contain detailed guidance as to the level of partial credit to be allocated to different portions of the solution.
  • Instructors should not expect graders to attend class sessions.
  • Instructors should exercise managerial responsibility for their graders. If a grader's work is unsatisfactory (for instance, late or inaccurate), the instructor must take prompt action to resolve the problem (for instance, by calling a meeting with the grader to clarify expectations) and must notify the Undergraduate Director.
  • Instructors should be aware of the technical abilities of their graders. An undergraduate grader will normally have taken the course he/she is grading, or an equivalent course, and passed it with a grade of at least B+. However, he/she should not be expected to have the technical ability or background of a graduate student in mathematics.
  • Instructor and grader will be notified of the number of hours per week that the grader is assigned to grade. The instructor must not assign more grading than can be carried out within the assigned period.

Grader Expectations of Instructors

  • Graders should expect that instructors will provide detailed information about the work that they are required to do. This should include class lists, answer keys, and explicit deadlines for the return of grades and graded homework.
  • Graders should expect that the instructor will schedule a face-to-face meeting early in the semester at which such information will be provided and the grader is able to clarify any questions. Graders should be able to ask questions of the instructor during the semester, whether by email or face-to-face meetings.
  • If a grader feels that the above guidelines are not being adhered to, he/she should attempt to address the matter with the instructor in the first instance. If after such discussion the grader still has unresolved concerns, he/she should bring them to the attention of the Undergraduate Director.
  • Graders should be aware that if they do not carry out their duties in an accurate and timely manner, they are hindering the education of the students whom they serve. Because the Mathematics Department is committed to quality teaching, it will not allow such a situation to continue. Therefore, it may terminate the employment of a grader who fails to carry out his or her duties.
  • Graders must keep the grades confidential. More information about confidentiality is below.


  • Note that only full-time undergraduate students at Penn State are eligible to be graders for the Mathematics Department (part-time undergraduate and graduate students will not be considered). Note also that a grader must remain in full-time student status throughout the semester in order to retain their grading position.
  • To be eligible to grade a Mathematics course at Penn State, an undergraduate student must have passed the course or a higher-level course with a grade of B+ or better. The grade of B is not acceptable. (A higher-level course means one whose course number has a greater hundreds digit, e.g. Math 140 is higher-level than Math 22, but Math 26 is not.) Special cases (for instance, a student who has tested out of a course) will be reviewed on an individual basis.
  • Grader credentials will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Director before grader appointments are made.
    • Undergraduate students who wish to be considered as graders in Mathematics should submit the online application form (see link at the top of the page). You will be informed by email whether your application has been approved.
  • If your application is approved and this is your first time working for the Mathematics Department as a grader, you will need to complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, which is available online, and bring the form to the department office together with suitable supporting documentation, such as a US passport or a driver's license and social security card. (Full details of the documentation rules are provided with the form). Federal law requires that this paperwork must be completed before you start working for the department; since graders need to start work as quickly as possible, applicants must be able to provide the necessary documentation as soon as an employment offer is confirmed by receiving an email message from the Undergraduate Mathematics Office.


  • Graders are wage payroll workers and need to complete a bi-weekly time sheet through WorkDay online. Graders will receive emails offering them training on the WorkDay system at the beginning of their appointments. The time sheets are to be approved by the Undergraduate Staff Assistant handling grader responsibility.
  • Graders can also view their pay information on WorkDay by going to the PAY option and selecting Pay History.

Grade Confidentiality

  • The confidentiality of student educational records is protected by Penn State policy and federal law (see Penn State Policy AD11). A grader must not disclose grades to anyone except the instructor to whom he/she is responsible or a substitute authorized by the Chair of the Mathematics Department. Any violation of this obligation will be cause for dismissal.