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Buster Makes the Grade (episode)

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the book.
"Buster Makes the Grade"
Buster Makes the Grade Title Card.png
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 7b
Original Airdate: United States October 15, 1996[1]
Germany December 17, 2001[2]
Written by: Peter Hirsch
Storyboard by: Nadja Cozic
"Arthur Goes to Camp"
"Arthur's New Puppy"
Read transcript

"Buster Makes the Grade" is the second half of the seventh episode in the first season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Buster Makes the Grade.


The kids tutor Buster to try to help him avoid having to repeat 3rd grade.


Buster is being his usual goofy, absent-minded self on the day of yet another big test in Arthur's class. As shown by Arthur, Buster is known for his lazy antics, often falling asleep while working, distracting the students when they're trying to work, and snacking in public areas while studying when it's not appropriate. Buster doesn't appear the least bit swayed by this latest test, except that once again, he forgot to study.

Buster Makes the Grade

Mr. Ratburn passes math tests back to the class, most of the students having passed with average to high marks; that is, everyone except for Buster, who has once again failed his test. Mr. Ratburn announces there will be another math test next Friday, which will go over everything they learned in the course of the school year, and advises everyone to start studying over the weekend.

After class, Mr. Rathburn tells Buster to meet him in Mr. Haney's office to discuss his failing grades with him, much to Buster's terror. Upon arriving, he meets his grandmother and mother, Bitzi, who breaks down into tears. After comforting her, Mr. Haney and Mr. Ratburn explain to Buster that his bad marks are bringing him on the verge of failure.

Buster later explains to his friends that if he doesn't get a B on the next test, he "won't have the pleasure of joining his friends in the fourth grade!" Shocked, Arthur and his friends desperately try to think up a plan to help Buster pass the test, but Buster has no faith in himself and just chooses to goof off as usual.

At the Sugar Bowl, Arthur's friends are at a loss as to how to help Buster, believing that Buster will still be in the third grade as an adult. Then they see Binky Barnes nearby, so they go to him for advice. Binky knows exactly what it's like to be held back, so the kids ask him how they can help Buster. Binky suggests that Buster get a tutor to help him study, like he has a teacher at home to help him out. The kids approach Buster with their idea, but he brushes it off and goes to play kickball with his other friends. Arthur and the gang decide that they could be his tutors as they are his friends, and so Arthur goes to Buster's the next day to help him study.

After Bitzi leaves, Buster tries to escape out the window to the park to see the ballgame, but Arthur stops him, telling him they must study. However, Buster can't stay awake during his reading, never making it past the first chapter. Arthur tells him to wake up, and Buster claims his bedroom makes him sleepy, so he suggests going outside. At the ballpark, Buster pays more attention to the game than his reading, much to Arthur's frustration. Buster suggests Arthur read the book to him instead. Arthur starts off, but when he looks up, he sees Buster has gone out to the field, arguing with the umpire. Arthur gives up and goes home.

At school, Buster doesn't seem the least bit worried about his test, and seems more focused on desserts, as Muffy points out. This gives Arthur an idea: Muffy and Francine try to teach Buster mathematics, using fudge pieces to teach him division. Initially, Buster seems to do well, but when asked to divide it amongst the three of them, he gets it wrong as the pieces aren't equal. To fix the problem, he goes ahead and eats them. When he doesn't stop chowing down, Muffy gives Buster an F.

With time running out, everybody steps up their progress, and Binky steps in to get Buster serious about studying. He ties Buster to a tree while reading him history, only to find Buster asleep and wearing glasses with fake eyes to trick him. Later, Buster shows Francine and Muffy his excellent multiplication skills, but they found out he cheated after a calculator fell out of his shirt. Arthur tries to get Buster to learn the 50 states of America, but he cheated again with a map in the classroom.

It's the day before the test, and Buster has given up hope on passing. With only one more night to study, everyone says farewell to their friend, who won't be joining the fourth grade with them.

Buster has a fantasy that he's an adult in the third grade, having been held back again and again, but is called to the principal's office (who happens to be Arthur), and is told that there's good news. Buster thinks he's finally going to the fourth grade, but Arthur is instead sending him to a place where he will nap and play all day; preschool! Shocked at the idea, Buster insists that he can do better.

Back in reality, Buster comes to the same realization: He CAN do better. That night, Buster spends the entire night studying, using various means to stay awake and not getting distracted by anything else. Buster finally finds his focus, and does everything he can to ensure he passes.

A few days after the test, the kids are convinced Buster is a goner, but when Mr. Ratburn comes to him, he is very impressed: Buster has passed with a B+! His friends celebrate and Buster thanks them for his help. Surprisingly enough, however, Arthur failed the division part of the test, and Mr. Ratburn actually suggests Buster can help him with those, leaving Arthur dumbfounded.







  • This is the first episode written by Peter K. Hirsch.
  • Muffy doesn't have her buck teeth in this episode.
  • This is Jenna's first speaking appearance.
  • This episode reveals that Binky was held back in 3rd grade.
  • Timeline: This episode takes place near the end of 3rd grade.
  • Running Gag: Everyone telling Buster to study.
  • Moral: Dont be upset when people use a calculator to solve a math problem for your own benefits.
  • Irony:
    • When Mr. Ratburn passes back the graded tests, including Buster's well-earned B+, he tells Arthur that he didn't do very well on the division portion of the test, and suggests maybe Buster could tutor him a bit in long division.
    • Francine asks Buster to divide 20 chocolates into 3 equal parts. 20 / 3 is 6 with a remainder of 2. It will never divide equally. After Buster eats two of the chocolates, there are 18 left, which do divide equally into 6. Buster actually had the right idea taking away two, whether or not he knew it.

Episode connections[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The book Arthur reads to Buster while sitting by the tree near the baseball park is Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • This episode has the same basic premise as the classic Simpsons episode "Bart Gets an F". Both episodes involve a character's (Bart/Buster) lack of studying final catch up to them and must make a good grade on an upcoming test or be held back.


  • In the scene where Arthur comes over to help Buster with studying, the cup full of school supplies was on Buster's desk for most of the scene; but when Buster stands up from his desk after Arthur told him he barely read a chapter, the cup of supplies is gone.
  • When Mr. Ratburn announces to the class that he graded the math tests from last week, Billy is seen in the classroom.
  • At one moment in the classroom, Steve is seen sitting beside Maria, but a few seconds later, Alex is seen in his place.
  • When old Mr. Ratburn asks Buster how old would he be if he stayed back 33 times in 3rd grade, the paper Buster was writing on disappears.
  • In the cafeteria, when Fern drinks juice, the straw is not touching her lips.
    • It's possible she squeezed the juice out of the straw.

Home video[edit]