Class of 2023 Experimental Grading and Credit Limit Options

Quick links and Q & A for common student questions.

The full policy for the Class of 2023 can be found on the Registrar’s Office website. Students are welcome to ask questions via this form or email one of the addresses listed below. 

  • Class of 2023 students should direct general questions to the Office of the First Year Staff at   
  • More information about the CUP Experiment and other first-year-related changes can be found here and questions may be directed to Kate ( or  

Check out the list of Fall 2019 First-Year Discovery (FYD) subjects and other exploration options. 


Common Student Question -  Q+A 

What are the “approved exceptions” that can count under the extra 9 units? 

The approved exceptions include First-Year Advising Seminars, up to 6 units per semester of UROP for credit, music performance subjects, Seminar XL, and Terrascope’s 9-unit class 12.000. 

Can I reuse a P/NR slot if I receive a grade of “No Record” in a class?

Yes, the three experimental P/NR slots can be reused for the same or an equivalent subject if you do not pass. For example, if you do not pass 8.022, you might choose to reuse the P/NR slot in a later semester to take 8.02, but you could not use it to take 7.012. First semester P/NR grading cannot be reused. 

What is a passing grade under P/NR grading? 

A passing grade for P/NR is a C or higher. Students who get a hidden grade of “D” will have it noted as “DN” on their internal advising transcript but there will be no external record that they took the class and they will need to retake it for credit. Because a D counts as passing for upper-level students, a student who uses a P/NR slot AFTER THE FIRST YEAR and receives a grade of D will have the option to switch their official grade from “No Record” to “D” after the fact. If they choose to take the letter grade, they will receive credit for the class and will not be able to reuse the P/NR slot. If they choose to keep the “No Record”, they must retake the subject to get credit but may reuse the P/NR slot. 

Why would I not want to use P/NR grading? 

The primary reason students are advised NOT to take advantage of the experimental P/NR option are those considering Pre-Health. The Pre-Health advising staff has noted that using the P/NR option may negatively impact students when applying to medical schools. For more information, consult Pre-Health Advising

Other students may find that they are more motivated to learn the material when they know they will receive a letter grade and may elect normal grading for this reason. 

What if I want to exceed 60 units in the Spring (plus 9 discovery-focused units)? Is there a petition process? 

No, there is no process for petitioning the Spring credit limit. For most students, 60 units is more than enough to keep busy, but students who genuinely want to take on more can consider pursuing UROPs, extracurriculars, personal projects, or reading to supplement their coursework. 

Does this apply to other classes besides the Class of 2023? 

Students who entered in Fall 2018 (most of whom will be Class of 2022) also have the option to take up to three science core GIRs P/NR after the first semester. The other experimental policies described in the video are only being implemented for students who enter in Fall 2019 (most of whom will be Class of 2023). Students who do not graduate in four years will be subject to the rules of their entering class, not the class with which they graduate. No experiments have yet been proposed for students entering in Fall 2020. 

Do I have to use the P/NR grading option? 

While many students have found the P/NR option to be a comforting safety net, it is entirely optional. 

How do I designate a subject as P/NR? 

To use a P/NR slot, you must switch the grading type of the subject via your online registration form or add/drop forms. Science core GIRs will default to ABC-grading, but you can switch back and forth until add date of the semester when you are taking the subject. 

Why do FYDs exist? Can I just take a regular subject in a major to explore it? 

FYDs were specifically created to complement the existing landscape of exploration opportunities. Many departments offer 6-12 unit subjects for first-years or welcome first-years into their sophomore-level classes, but it can be hard for students to explore more than a few departments in their first year. Depending on your goals and interests, you may take a mix of FYDs and more traditional exploration options to both encounter new topics of interest and to dig into known interests and see what it’s like to pursue them at a college level.