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Understanding undergraduate marking schemes watch

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    I'm currently working on my first few assignments for Year 1 of a joint honours BA (that falls under my uni's Humanities and Arts faculties; specifically I'm doing Literature & Film). I appreciate that there will be idiosyncrasies as to how marking works at institutional, faculty, School, and even individual tutor levels, but I'd like to get a broad, generic overview of how it works from L4-L6. The key issues are:

    1) Gauging what's hypothetically and realistically possible to achieve (most likely two different things, I accept). What I'm picking up so far is that 85/100 is an exceptionally high mark for an assignment (at least at my uni). What I'm having trouble with is the concept that 100% is literally impossible to achieve; what's the point of having a scale that goes up to 100 if, say, 85-90% is actually the **maximum that anyone is realistically ever going to accomplish?

    The difficulty of achieving the minimum 72% for a first (or any other class of grade, for that matter) is going to correspond to how difficult it is to achieve the realistic maximum. So if that realistic maximum is 85%, 72% is that much harder to achieve than if 95% is the realistic maximum. (Yes, I realise that what's realistic for one person is different for another, but what I mean is if no one on the faculty even got close to 100% during their undergrad studies it suggests that no one who ever studies at that university will either.)

    2) Understanding what's worth striving for (and how results are reported). Further to the previous question, is it really worth getting much over the minimum for a First? Will anyone, other than university personnel, see, and more importantly care, if you get 85% rather than 75% for assignments? Does the answer to that question change if the student decides to pursue postgrad qualifications (wherein academics' opinions become more critical)?

    ** Makes me think of the scene with the amps in This is Spinal Tap!

    Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
    Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
    Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
    Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
    Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
    Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
    Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
    Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
    Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
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    (Original post by jimmy_looks_2ice)
    1) Gauging what's hypothetically and realistically possible to achieve (most likely two different things, I accept). What I'm picking up so far is that 85/100 is an exceptionally high mark for an assignment (at least at my uni). What I'm having trouble with is the concept that 100% is literally impossible to achieve; what's the point of having a scale that goes up to 100 if, say, 85-90% is actually the **maximum that anyone is realistically ever going to accomplish?
    The subjects where 100% is a possibility will be the ones which have yes/no, black/white, right/wrong answers - mathematics-based disciplines as an example. With humanities subjects, there's rarely a right or wrong answer. Analysis, discussion and debate are just going to generate shades of grey, meaning that a 100% simply wouldn't be credible.

    The point of the scale is that everyone is measured against it. In the same way that it could "go up to eleven", it goes up to a hundred.

    The difficulty of achieving the minimum 72% for a first (or any other class of grade, for that matter) is going to correspond to how difficult it is to achieve the realistic maximum. So if that realistic maximum is 85%, 72% is that much harder to achieve than if 95% is the realistic maximum.
    Yes, that's right. As long as this is true for everyone on that course and simikar courses, that's the best measuring system you can hope for. Humanities are subjective.

    [QUOTE](Yes, I realise that what's realistic for one person is different for another, but what I mean is if no one on the faculty even got close to 100% during their undergrad studies it suggests that no one who ever studies at that university will either.)[/QUOTES]
    That's right again, and is generally understood. I would be very suspicious of any Humanities course which gave 100% to a student. Again, it's the parity which is important rather than the maximum on the scale. As long as the same measurement system is used for all students, that's the best that you can hope for in subjects where every answer is going to be subjective.

    2) Understanding what's worth striving for (and how results are reported). Further to the previous question, is it really worth getting much over the minimum for a First? Will anyone, other than university personnel, see, and more importantly care, if you get 85% rather than 75% for assignments? Does the answer to that question change if the student decides to pursue postgrad qualifications (wherein academics' opinions become more critical)?
    It really depends on your personal stance. Personally, I wanted the best marks I could possibly muster. I needed to know that I'd done my best. Nobody gets a First by coasting - you have to work for it. So the concept of kicking back and getting a "lower" First, is a bit odd. If you're going to work for a First, you'd be taking a risk by relaxing a bit because you think you'll get 75% instead of 85%.

    All of your module marks are shown on your final degree transcript, which is what postgrad admissions and employers will want to see. They won't see individual assignment marks. As far as postgrad admissions go, getting the highest possible mark overall will put you in a good position - and getting the best possible marks in any modules directly related to your proposed postgrad course, might give you a competitive edge.
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    You are over-thinking it. To get a first class, you need to work hard across the board. Trying to work out how much effort you need to apply to get a low 1st Vs a high 1st is self-defeating.

    Employers only see classifications, not percentages. A 1st is a 1st to them. However, if you are top of the top, you will earn extra awards and certificates to pad out your CV. I was awarded national recognition in community pharmacy for my masters project. This came with £100 cash, too. I didnt even know about it until I was awarded it. I guess I was too consumed by my work!

    I recommend you work to your best ability on everything, but remember to rest and socialise. Find the balance that works for you. This actually boosted my morale and got me through postgrad. You want a first, hut you also want to be a sane pereon. Good luck, you'll do great.
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    Hi. I appreciate your answers. I also apologise for not thanking you earlier; I've been offline for several weeks since I had a lot of work to do (I have a tendency to spend too much time on here, so I felt a TSR break was needed!).

    (Original post by Klix88)
    It really depends on your personal stance. Personally, I wanted the best marks I could possibly muster. I needed to know that I'd done my best. Nobody gets a First by coasting - you have to work for it. So the concept of kicking back and getting a "lower" First, is a bit odd. If you're going to work for a First, you'd be taking a risk by relaxing a bit because you think you'll get 75% instead of 85%.
    I suspect you've given the best answer that it's possible to give (thank you). I suppose I'll just have to get used to the concept of the subjectivity in the assessment of Humanities assignments.

    I'm definitely not trying to cruise to a First. However, the very notion of "doing one's best" isn't totally straightforward. I'm not trying to be awkward here - what I mean is, it seems to me that even as a mere undergrad, I could easily spend my entire waking hours studying for it and still feel like there's more to do. So, as I suppose everyone does, I have to decide how far short of that total devotion I'll settle for. That could be seen as the end of it, but...

    I don't know the current stats, but even narrowing it to my subject, there must be hundreds of students who graduate each year with a first. My most favoured career options are competitive - so competitive that there isn't enough room even for all the "Firsts", never mind anyone who achieves anything less. So in addition to trying to get myself up to the level of a First, I'm also wondering how to distinguish myself beyond that. Perhaps I'm looking at it the wrong way in thinking that it's purely academic grades that are the way to do it.

    (Original post by GrimBeast)
    I recommend you work to your best ability on everything, but remember to rest and socialise. Find the balance that works for you. This actually boosted my morale and got me through postgrad. You want a first, hut you also want to be a sane pereon. Good luck, you'll do great.
    Thanks. I suppose out of all this worrying that's the only practical approach I can take.
 
 
 
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