Behind the scenes of the exam marking process

The Guardian is reporting on the A-level marking process after being offered access to the OCR’s inner workings.

…There’s a hush of concentration in the room, the only sound the turning of pages and scratching of pens, as the group sit poring over the anonymous exam papers in front of them – but no exams are actually being marked.

Instead, the small group of experts for the OCR examination board is working its way through piles of scripts arranged by score, weighing up where the boundary should fall between an A or B for this particular humanities subject.

This is the most highly regulated and delicate part of the examination system, which the public never sees. OCR, one of the five main examination boards, granted the Guardian exclusive access to its inner workings – revealing a process characterised by caution, rigour and sophisticated technology.

“Everything has changed in the last three to four years. The days when examiners would get delivered 200 scripts, and then we’d sit and wait for them to come back, have gone,” said Sarah McPhee, OCR’s chair of examiners for history, in the middle of what she calls “the white heat of the examination season”.

The stakes and numbers involved are huge. July at OCR is like Christmas for retailers, as the exam board receives, processes, marks and grades 2.7m GCSE and 1.4m A-level scripts. 

While pupils still sit in halls and write answers in booklets, almost everything that happens from there on has been revolutionised by technology…

More at: A-level examiners must achieve top grades before sealing pupils’ fates


It is well worth reading the full article to get some fascinating insights into the modern exam marking process.

Does it make you feel more sympathetic towards the boards, in light of considerable criticism that is coming their way at the moment?

Please share in the comments or via Twitter…


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