Is exam marking fair? Have your say Watch

The Learn Ranger
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#61
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#61
(Original post by mehokay)
The marking system can never been fair.
Examiners get paid by how many scripts they can mark in a certain amount of time. Most of them will skim through answers and can miss or unfairly award marks.
Some people will get their scripts marked by a nice examiner and some are not as fortunate. It may not make a massive difference in raw marks, but a few marks can result in a change of grade.
There is so much subjectivity, especially in essay based subjects like English, History etc, they are so heavily dependent on what the individual examiner believes is a 'good answer'. An A* answer to one examiner might just be an A to another.
It's sad you think it can never be fair. The issue of examiner quality is important and equally the training they get. I'll raise these issues and report back.
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The Learn Ranger
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#62
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(Original post by RossB1702)
It definitely is not: a girl in my class was 7 marks off an A and appealed and got it changed to an A. Wtf how can 7 marks just be awarded out of the blue. Was the marker hungover ? Getting laid at the time ? Who knows.

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(Original post by Mnemosyne.)
I was 10 marks off an A* for GCSE and went up 9.
(Original post by tyh91)
In the exam season just gone, I got a U in my English lit paper (8/80 raw marks apparently) although my coursework was kept at A* and my AS grade was an A. Got it remarked and got an A. Held an offer for Kings, safe to say this monumental error in marking totally screwed everything up for me. I think that English lit is so subjective and what one examiner thinks is credible another may not. It actually bewilders me how I was awarded a U - I had written over 7 pages, a D/E therefore would have been more realistic.
All these cases show how exam boards can get it badly wrong. And only the students who pay for remarks get moved up. I'll make sure Ofqual are made aware of these extreme cases.
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The Learn Ranger
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(Original post by oopqoo)
I really, really want to see improvements to marking coursework based subjects.

The marking criteria for coursework is usually terrible, making it difficult for students to understand them and making them very reliant on their teachers. My art teacher and the supervisor for my EPQ both told me that I could stop working early because the work I'd done already would almost guarantee me an A*, but I got a B in the end for both subjects. Had I known there was something to improve on, I would have done it. Looking at the marking criteria, I still don't know what I did wrong. If you are relying on the input of teachers, and the teachers give you input which doesn't correspond to the grades the examiner gives, then I think this should be considered somehow.

Also, in both situations, it was impossible to get a remark without the permission of the whole cohort. This is not practical in the real world, and it feels like the exam boards are creating ridiculous remarking criteria which are impossible to fulfil because they can't be bothered to do remarks.
It's very difficult for exam boards in cases where teachers have given inappropriate advice. There is usually no evidence of this ... it's very important that teachers go to all the training meetings they can so this situation is less likely to occur. As for remarking coursework - I guess the worry is that if one goes up maybe the rest should too but only one person has applied. But if they got it wrong for one, maybe the rest should be remarked anyway?

I'll try to raise the issue of coursework remarking.
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peralta99
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This isn't specifially to do with the marking, but it is to do with the accuracy of my grade so hear me out. In my listening exam for French GCSE, the speaker was messed up and i couldn't hear it properly. The room and seating arrangements had been changed last minute so I was furthest back in the room, with my back to the speaker. Needless to say, i performed poorly and got a D in the listening exam, whereas my grades for reading, speaking and writing were all A/A* and this impacted my overall grade. The school contacted the exam board but they refused to do anything to increase my grade. In hindsight, i know i should've put my hand up and told the invigilators that i couldn't hear it clearly, but at the time i didn't want to disturb everyone else, and the invigilator DID say (before the exam started) that once the recording starts, they can't touch it. I was really upset because i worked extremely hard and revised so much for French, and i know im capable, but it all went down the drain in that one exam. I do think the exam board should have done or should do something.
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The Learn Ranger
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#65
(Original post by ShatnersBassoon)
When I got my GCSE results slip, it was laid out abysmally. Subjects in the same table as individual exams; UMS marks displayed with no indication of what they were out of. To get your raw mark, you had to go visit the subject board's website, which was a laborious and obscure process - I know several of my friends would have got remarks, and potentially improved their grades, had they actually been told at some point what the UMS mark given on the results actually meant, and told how close they were to the next grade above. To me, not having a more transparent way of saying how well we did seems only to discourage remarks, which is not how the system should work: my English Language paper was marked very poorly the first time round (it went up by 7 after it was remarked, almost 10% of the total marks available), and I should not have had to research for so long to work out whether to ask for a remark.

I am also seeing a worrying trend in A levels where students are getting less and less information about how well they did. Now linear A levels are being introduced, module scores are no longer given to students, only overall grades. Teachers have access to slightly more information than us but we should be the ones who know how well we did, not them. We need more information, not less.

In the modern age, it would not be difficult to send electronic copies of every exam we take, with the marks we got for each question, to each student via email. But the incredibly small amount of information we get, combined with the costs of remarking and constant scaremongering that "your grade could go down", seems to me like it is designed to deter people from using the remarking system, in order to cover up the amount of errors in marking that are being made. I want to know why there is not a more transparent system in place, because mistakes in marking will always occur - it's human error - but these mistakes are not being corrected, and that deprives people of jobs, of university places and of countless other things that exam results matter for.
This issue isn't directly about marking consistency but it is important as students should know exactly how they have done. I'll try and raise the issue of communicating results. Why shouldn't schools get every students' script sent back to them as a matter of course?
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The Learn Ranger
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#66
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#66
(Original post by iamayesha)
This isn't specifially to do with the marking, but it is to do with the accuracy of my grade so hear me out. In my listening exam for French GCSE, the speaker was messed up and i couldn't hear it properly. The room and seating arrangements had been changed last minute so I was furthest back in the room, with my back to the speaker. Needless to say, i performed poorly and got a D in the listening exam, whereas my grades for reading, speaking and writing were all A/A* and this impacted my overall grade. The school contacted the exam board but they refused to do anything to increase my grade. In hindsight, i know i should've put my hand up and told the invigilators that i couldn't hear it clearly, but at the time i didn't want to disturb everyone else, and the invigilator DID say (before the exam started) that once the recording starts, they can't touch it. I was really upset because i worked extremely hard and revised so much for French, and i know im capable, but it all went down the drain in that one exam. I do think the exam board should have done or should do something.
That is sad. I think that if the school had asked for special consideration and there was evidence of the problem your mark might have been moved up if it was very near a grade boundary overall. I'm not exactly sure of the rules though. gdunne42 do you know?
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RossB1702
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#67
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(Original post by The Learn Ranger)
All these cases show how exam boards can get it badly wrong. And only the students who pay for remarks get moved up. I'll make sure Ofqual are made aware of these extreme cases.
The exam board I was talking about is The Scottish Qualification Authority. Are you going to an AQA meeting ?


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RossB1702
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#68
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Also I agree i with the person that says English marking is subjective because before a prelim a girl in my class handed in a critical essay for practice and got like 18/20 and when she used the same quotes and same annotations in the actual prelim itself it was marked by another teacher and it went down to like 8/20 lol.


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The Learn Ranger
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#69
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Oh OK - no it's run by Ofqual who regulate the work of the English and Welsh boards.
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username2742645
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#70
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Absolutely not. Edexcel AS English Literature was completely unfair, I went from straight 90%s in all my mocks and class tests to 50% in the real thing, which was the best essay I'd ever written. Meanwhile a student who slacked off the entire year got 100% and I read his essay after he recalled it and it was nowhere near good enough for 70%, let alone 100%. It's Ofquals stupid exam remark change as well as lazy marking and needs to change.
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EnterNamehereplz
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#71
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(Original post by The Learn Ranger)
Thanks for your comments. Is there a problem with the recruitment of examiners? Are the boards getting the best people to do the job? Are they paying enough and do the increasing pressure on teachers mean that fewer want to become markers and those that do rush the work or do it when they're very tired?
Yes it pays really poorly so the standard of work is also poor and when they see mistakes they know they can't do anything about it because they don't want to increase their costs and want more profit.
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gdunne42
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#72
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(Original post by The Learn Ranger)
That is sad. I think that if the school had asked for special consideration and there was evidence of the problem your mark might have been moved up if it was very near a grade boundary overall. I'm not exactly sure of the rules though. gdunne42 do you know?
The learn ranger
Every special consideration request is reviewed on its own merits based on information the school provides. The examiners are required to supply a working recording, the school are responsible for the audio equipment and ensuring students can hear the recording. Candidates need to highlight a problem if they are experiencing one. If no other candidate reported a problem that would weaken any case. IF the school asked for special consideration then the way they described the issue must have led the examiners to decide that no increase to marks was appropriate. I think the communication between candidate and the examiners through their teachers/exams office is not always as good as it should be. It would make sense for candidates to see the request and to see a clear response from the examiners.
It should be noted that 5% of available marks is the maximum uplift and this is reserved for absolutely the most serious problems faced by candidates such as loss of a very close relative or life threatening/terminal illness, 2% is more typical for most problems. It wouldn't generally turn a D into an A. Since the listening part of most specifications is a small % of the whole, even an approved special consideration request is unlikely to have an impact on the final grade unless the candidate was extremely close to the boundary.


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username2324315
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#73
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A girl in the year above me apparently got a mid C in AS English Literature, then got it remarked and it went up to a high B. Isn't that so bad? Surely there should be a system in which more than one examiner marks it? It just worries me as so much relies on this grade.

I was 5 off an A in GCSE Maths and although I didn't get it remarked, it scares me reading this thread that I might have got an A overall if the examiner had made mistakes the first time marking.
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peralta99
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(Original post by The Learn Ranger)
That is sad. I think that if the school had asked for special consideration and there was evidence of the problem your mark might have been moved up if it was very near a grade boundary overall. I'm not exactly sure of the rules though. gdunne42 do you know?
The learn ranger
There was evidence, one of the senior teachers looked into it and admitted the evidence himself, and he did contact the exam board. From what he told us the special consideration wasn't enough to actually change the grade though. It really sucks because French was one of my best subjects too.
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The Learn Ranger
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#75
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#75
Sorry it's taken me a while to update everybody in this thread. The Ofqual seminar took place last Monday (14/11/16) and a lot has happened since ... more in a moment.

Here's the main questions I took with me and the answers I managed to get. Remaining issues I will raise with Ofqual and report back when I get an answer.

There were about 50 people at the seminar - lots of teachers who help Ofqual in various ways. Notably there was only one person (as far as I could tell) from an exam board. There was a representative of the Exam Officers Association.

Right – your questions. I’ve sort of merged them a bit …

Why do bad errors occur in marking?
This was the key issue of the day. Ofqual researchers presented their research which is based on a huge sample of scripts across 12 subjects. I won’t go into the details of how they did it (you can read it yourself here) but it’s pretty thorough although at this stage only their first effort at getting an idea of marking consistency.

It is all rather provisional but the bottom line is that marking consistency varies a lot between subjects/papers, with Physics and modern languages over 85% consistency but the more subjective essay-based subjects like English Lit, History and Religious Studies coming down to 70% and under – with English Lit the lowest at just over 60%. Maths not included in the research incidentally.

You can read my summary of the research here which includes links to the research itself and to articles in the educational press.

I was pretty shocked about the research so wrote the article quickly and we also got a bit of a campaign going to get TSR users’ opinions. We don’t want to worry anyone but it is something students and teachers should be aware of e.g. when considering a remark.

Some of the larger errors are probably the result of ‘rogue markers’. The boards do have lots of checking procedures in place but they can’t be 100%.

No one expects a 100% system but we should, in my opinion, be doing better without having to resort to multiple choice questions for every paper.

Would double marking help?
Ofqual also presented some research on double marking, along with Israeli and American academics.

Surprisingly perhaps, it seems that double marking does not make much difference to accuracy – maybe a little. But its resource implications are huge in terms of recruiting examiners which itself may reduce examiner quality. You would need more than double the current number of examiners as extras would be needed to check discrepancies.

What would make more difference is adding more questions to papers, making answers shorter and using point-based mark schemes.

What is the rationale for the new remarking process and how does it work?
I wasn’t able to bring this up as the seminar didn’t cover the issue. The best I can do is to link to the Ofqual explanation. This was based on a consultation which is probably somewhere on their website.

What is the data on remarks?
Again, I couldn’t bring this up but it seems to me that the data should be in the public domain. I will ask Ofqual and get back to you. Although maybe it’s an issue for the boards??

How are grade boundaries set over time?
The best I can do is to link to this explanation.

Why are statements of results so unclear?
Most of these come from schools rather than boards so maybe take it up with your school/college? I will ask if they can be clearer and let candidates know where they sit in relation to grade boundaries.

Why can’t individual coursework be remarked?
I did raise the issue of coursework marking. It wasn’t covered in the research but Ofqual believes it will be subject to the same sort of levels of unreliability as other teacher marking. I will ask about remarks but I guess this has some security concerns as the centres hold coursework. Again, probably more of a board issue than Ofqual.

I also intend to raise the issue of all exam scripts being returned to schools as a matter of course.

OK, that’s it for now. Do let me know your views on all this and any other issues you think should be raised with Ofqual or the boards. I’ll do my best.

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EnterNamehereplz
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#76
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(Original post by The Learn Ranger)
Sorry it's taken me a while to update everybody in this thread. The Ofqual seminar took place last Monday (14/11/16) and a lot has happened since ... more in a moment.

Here's the main questions I took with me and the answers I managed to get. Remaining issues I will raise with Ofqual and report back when I get an answer.

There were about 50 people at the seminar - lots of teachers who help Ofqual in various ways. Notably there was only one person (as far as I could tell) from an exam board. There was a representative of the Exam Officers Association.

Right – your questions. I’ve sort of merged them a bit …

Why do bad errors occur in marking?
This was the key issue of the day. Ofqual researchers presented their research which is based on a huge sample of scripts across 12 subjects. I won’t go into the details of how they did it (you can read it yourself here) but it’s pretty thorough although at this stage only their first effort at getting an idea of marking consistency.

It is all rather provisional but the bottom line is that marking consistency varies a lot between subjects/papers, with Physics and modern languages over 85% consistency but the more subjective essay-based subjects like English Lit, History and Religious Studies coming down to 70% and under – with English Lit the lowest at just over 60%. Maths not included in the research incidentally.

You can read my summary of the research here which includes links to the research itself and to articles in the educational press.

I was pretty shocked about the research so wrote the article quickly and we also got a bit of a campaign going to get TSR users’ opinions. We don’t want to worry anyone but it is something students and teachers should be aware of e.g. when considering a remark.

Some of the larger errors are probably the result of ‘rogue markers’. The boards do have lots of checking procedures in place but they can’t be 100%.

No one expects a 100% system but we should, in my opinion, be doing better without having to resort to multiple choice questions for every paper.

Would double marking help?
Ofqual also presented some research on double marking, along with Israeli and American academics.

Surprisingly perhaps, it seems that double marking does not make much difference to accuracy – maybe a little. But its resource implications are huge in terms of recruiting examiners which itself may reduce examiner quality. You would need more than double the current number of examiners as extras would be needed to check discrepancies.

What would make more difference is adding more questions to papers, making answers shorter and using point-based mark schemes.

What is the rationale for the new remarking process and how does it work?
I wasn’t able to bring this up as the seminar didn’t cover the issue. The best I can do is to link to the Ofqual explanation. This was based on a consultation which is probably somewhere on their website.

What is the data on remarks?
Again, I couldn’t bring this up but it seems to me that the data should be in the public domain. I will ask Ofqual and get back to you. Although maybe it’s an issue for the boards??

How are grade boundaries set over time?
The best I can do is to link to this explanation.

Why are statements of results so unclear?
Most of these come from schools rather than boards so maybe take it up with your school/college? I will ask if they can be clearer and let candidates know where they sit in relation to grade boundaries.

Why can’t individual coursework be remarked?
I did raise the issue of coursework marking. It wasn’t covered in the research but Ofqual believes it will be subject to the same sort of levels of unreliability as other teacher marking. I will ask about remarks but I guess this has some security concerns as the centres hold coursework. Again, probably more of a board issue than Ofqual.

I also intend to raise the issue of all exam scripts being returned to schools as a matter of course.

OK, that’s it for now. Do let me know your views on all this and any other issues you think should be raised with Ofqual or the boards. I’ll do my best.

Spoiler:
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Did anyone talk about how poorly markers were paid you get what you pay for
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The Learn Ranger
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#77
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No, but I agree that improvements to quality could be made if the boards devoted more resources to the security and accuracy of the marking process. Also, teachers used to be far less busy in the summer term. Now it is just as busy as any other time of year so they have less time available for marking and are more likely to rush or mark when very tired.
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Bulletzone
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#78
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#78
Yes, Every examiner is different. Some more lenient than others.
They're all not the same.
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Nikapro
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#79
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I think examiners should definitely take longer to mark papers. As well as that another examiner should mark or (maybe review) each paper after one an examiner has marked it, without seeing the comments, to make it more objective.
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VMD100
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Marking on the whole is not fair.
While it could be argued for maths and science based subjects the answers tend to be more one dimensional and there is a clear divide between correct and incorrect this is not always the case. Some exam boards will accept answers that are not on the mark scheme provided they are scientifically correct. In that instance you are relying on the scientific knowledge and proficiency of the examiner - which similar to candidates will have varying levels of ability.

In essay based, qualitative, subjects the mark scheme serves as a guideline which individual markers interpret differently. I have had history papers go up 10 UMS which was a giant move from high B to mid A at A2. Similarly there will be people that got A's purely by chance when the majority of examiners would have graded their examination lower.
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