Thoughts on a 100-Point Review System


I'm not sure if it's because I was raised in the American education system, but I always fine myself breaking down a review score that's not a 5-point system into a 5-point system. Specifically, anytime I see a review score system that uses 100 points as its base and essentially converting that score into the A/B/C/D/F grading scale sans the pluses and minuses.

I had this thought cross my mind the other day when I was reading a Yelp review about a German restaurant in the area (sounds delicious, by the way). The reviewer prefaced her review with the statement that she's grading the restaurant on a 100-point scale, using several different factors to influence that score (though she left out which sections were weighted more, if any). She gave the restaurant a score of 72.

When I saw the 72, I immediately converted it to a "C", which is considered average. It's like that whole point scale of 70 to 79 falls into a single bucket--an average bucket. I understand that there is a difference between a 72 and a 73, for example one is higher by a point, but what really designates that difference? I feel that humans are incapable of understanding grading to that kind of granularity. What makes a 73 point house salad better than a 72 point house salad? An extra sunflower seed? A half teaspoon more of olive oil on the side? Less flies around the entrance?

I then see myself thinking the same thing for even a 10-point rating system. Surely our brains can comprehend a measly 10 points, right? I'm saying, "Hm. Not really...?" and this is where I point the finger, in a non-threatening manner, at the American education system.

As soon as I see a score on even a 10-point scale, I still break it down into the A/B/C/D/F 5-point system. When I see a 7, I automatically think "C" again. If it's an 8? That's a "B" right there. 9 or 10? It's an "A", my friend. You may ask, "But Alex, see how you can clearly break it down now? You have a much better understanding and ability to distinguish those grades. You know the different between, let's say, the 7 and the 8." Sure, I agree. However, what about everything listed as 5 and below? That's half the system right there.

And that brings me to, what I find to be, the most interesting point about this whole system. When something is given a 50 or below (or 5 and below, in the 10-point case), I automatically group it into the "F" grade. I understand that a score of 45 is considerably better than one of 30, and by 15 whole points, but it's still in the "F" grade range and that's how my mind perceives it. I've somehow reserved 50 whole points for a single letter grade when the rest of the grades are within 10 point buckets (60-69, 70-79 and so on). Wouldn't it, in theory, make more sense to break it down into 20-point buckets so those grades are weighted evenly? Why is it that failing equates to half of the entire review scale? And if you break it down into five buckets all worth 20 points, wouldn't that just be a 5-point system?

It's like distinguishing the difference between an epic fail and an okay fail. My brain doesn't do that. They both failed and that's a considerably unbalanced bucket to fall into.

This is why I say it may be due to the American education system. I've spent more than half my life (to date anyway) in it and that A/B/C/D/F system is engrained in my head. "I don't care if it's an 82 or an 83. It's a 'B' and that's all that matters." I'm not familiar with other grading systems in the world, so they may be similar or completely different.

Now, I'm not trying to convince anyone that 100-point systems or any non-5-point system of grading is wrong. I'm just saying that when someone uses it, I automatically just convert it over to something my own brain can interpret properly. And with that I just found it interesting how I review review systems in general... or why I would dedicate this much time just thinking about how I think and interpret review scores.

But maybe it's this unbalanced size and nature of each bucket that makes the 100-point review system so interesting? It's that because it is measured in a more weighted-here-lighter-there way that makes it, I don't know, organic? It's like the review then has some quality that makes it take on a personality of its own.

In the end, it's how your brain interprets this stuff and I think it's worth at least a 72.