What are peoples opinions on being given a grade instead of taking a grading for it?
Well, in our case, as I have come to realize it after some years, the test is only a formality, and the grade is actually given once Sensei decided.
Just to clarify, Korindo Aikido is a different M.A. compared to Ueshiba Aikido with its own organization, my Sensei is the head of Korindo Aikido in Israel and has 7th dan. Thus he has the permission to rank students up to 3rd dan (or possibly 4th, I stopped caring long ago) and "recommend" higher ranks. Further, most of the students we have study with my sensei who teaches 2 of the 4 dojo we have in the country (the other 2 are led by his students, one of which trains with us on a regular basis and the other comes to train with us every time he can since he lives further away).
The result of our situation is that sensei knows all advanced students by name long before they reach their first grading (in most dojo we only start grading at 1st Kyu, though one teacher received Sensei permission to have another earlier test for 5th Kyu).
Due to those reasons, a few years ago some students convinced Sensei he does not need to test for ranks above shodan, instead, the person "tested" should only demonstrate a Kata or two in a level pertaining to his new grade. From my own personal experience in the last grading, Sensei has even given this up, he grades based on seeing the Yundasha in the dojo, no special test occasion is necessary.
Personally, I find this system to be better then a simple test. One is not tested only in one singular event, but is being under test all the time, and has to stand up to par not only in the simple technical aspect but also in his behavior all along. Of course, this type of arrangement requires a very skilled and high level Sensei, a rare thing.