Every semester/quarter, we college students must face the inevitable specter of registration. For some, it’s as easy as seeing which graduation requirements you have left and just picking the ones you want to take. But what if you’re trying to pick one course in a universe of them that can fulfill a breadth requirement? Or maybe none of the electives sound appealing but you just have to pick one to graduate? In cases like those, it can be invaluable to see past grade distributions and student course reviews to help you decide which class to pick. That’s where Courserank comes into play.

Developed by Stanford undergraduates four years ago, Courserank’s main draw is that it provides previous grade distributions, allowing students to see the specific breakdown by letter grade, professor, semester, and for the course overall. Essentially, it provides information on the relative “easiness” of a course in the past. The unique thing about Courserank is that it has agreements with all these schools to pull data directly from university records, so you can be assured that this data is both factual and accurate. Though I might be wrong, I believe there is no other site out there that works directly with associated student governments to obtain that data directly from the university. Currently, Courserank is available at over 500 schools; see if your school’s on the list here. On top of that, Courserank also offers other features like 1) the ability to plan your schedule and 2) connect with friends on Facebook to share your course reviews and schedules.

However, there are certainly limitations associated with Courserank. For one, the grades data does not update after every term; sometimes a class won’t even have a distribution altogether. You should also remember that there’s no guarantee a professor’s future distributions will match previous distributions. And more importantly at the end of the day, it’s still up to you to study and do the work to get a good grade, even if it is an easy class. No one’s going to hand you an A for doing nothing. I’ve found that the student reviews are often far more helpful than the grade distributions, giving you much richer insights into the structure of a course and the professor’s teaching style and expectations. All in all, while it’s not perfect, there really is nothing like Courserank out there. It’s a great tool to help you pick between classes when you literally just can’t tell a discernible difference between them all, but remember to take its findings with a grain of salt.

Have you used Courserank.com before? What do you see as its limitations? Are there other sites out there that show past grade distributions? Let us know in the comments!