Sprint finish to mark reformatted GCSEs, say examiners

The Guardian reports that examiners have complained that this year’s reformed GCSE exams in England have been tougher to mark, taking them longer to complete and leading to exam boards cajoling markers to process more papers and increasing payment rates.

The more intensive English exams appear to have caused difficulties for examiners, with some parts taking longer to mark than the previous format – with the largest exam board, AQA, upping payment rates for examiners by 50% and exhorting teachers to mark more papers.

An email from AQA sent to markers on 30 July said 70,000 scripts on one of the components of the English exam were still unmarked. While the results are published on 24 August, the boards and Ofqual require several weeks to prepare for publication, especially the crucial task of translating raw marks into grade boundaries for the new exams.

“It always goes close to the wire but 70,000 is really quite a lot. I don’t recall it ever being that number with other exam boards,” said one examiner, an experienced English teacher.

AQA and Ofqual, the examinations watchdog in England, say that they are on track to publish the results for English alongside those of the other GCSE subjects next Thursday. AQA said it had completed marking all of its English papers, while Pearson said all its GCSE marking had been completed.

Other examiners – who are barred from speaking publicly under their contracts with the exam boards – were told by AQA that its payment per paper would rise from £5 to £7.50 at the end of last month, while any cap on the number of papers each could mark was removed.

“I got a phone call and a number of voice messages saying, just mark as many as you want. It seemed like they were late getting finished. I only finished marking my batch at the end of last week [7 August],” said one examiner for AQA.

Read more Sprint finish to mark reformatted GCSEs, say examiners

Have you been marking exam papers? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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