1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Exam marking taking too long?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by JaneyEm27, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. JaneyEm27

    JaneyEm27 New commenter

    I have agreed to mark for a new exam board this year. I have been teaching for several years and marked for a couple of different boards, but since moving school I decided to try marking for a new board this year for CPD (and cash!). The problem is, this board seems to take much, much longer per mark than any of my previous marking experience. I also found the standardisation process less enlightening than others I have been through and the results of seeded responses aren't shared with you until the end (which stresses me out, if I am honest).

    I understand that a new board will be a learning curve, but I have previously managed to do the bulk of my marking on the weekends (as I work full time) with a couple of hours a night to keep on top of it. I wasn't able to start on the first couple of days of live marking due to a school trip and parent's evening, but I spent 4 hours yesterday and 8 hours today and I haven't even hit 10% of my quota yet. In previous years, that would be me about 25% done! I worked out that even if I started "on time", I would still need to average 4 hours a night for the next 3 weeks and do my weekend catch-up to boot.

    Does this seem like a normal length of time to spend marking GCSE essays? (I mark English Literature. I've marked A Level for another board and it didn't take nearly as much time AND my feedback on accuracy was glowing.) What am I doing wrong?

    Can I withdraw this early? Should I? I am shocked at how little I managed to achieve this weekend and honestly, it is not going to be sustainable. What will the consequences be if I do withdraw?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. annascience2012

    annascience2012 New commenter

    Hang in there, you'll get quicker as you get more familiar with the mark scheme. I'm always at least three times faster towards the end of the quota than the beginning.
  3. annascience2012

    annascience2012 New commenter

    Ps the consequences of withdrawing are minimal - you forego most of the pay, and you never get rehired by that board. So it is an option, but you wouldn't ever be rehired.
  4. scraggy55

    scraggy55 New commenter

    It does take time to get used to examining for a new awarding body. I am a PE on two specifications (not English) and now only work for one board, although years ago I marked an A level for a different awarding body and found it too slow so did not accept any further contracts.

    You can absolutely withdraw this early and you should be paid for what you have marked. Examiners drop out all the time for various reasons. If you want further contracts to be offered from this awarding body however, (I suspect you may not after this experience) then just tell them that you must withdraw due to personal reasons.

    I also used to mark KS2 SATs tests and the first year they went to online marking it was terrible. I told my TL that unless there was an immediate improvement i would withdraw. She asked me to put up with it, but nothing changed so I withdrew at about 25% and told them why. I was still offered a contract the following (which I refused)!
  5. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    English Lit Paper 1 or 2?
    Budget about 4 papers per hour (some will take 5 minutes, others 25 minutes), and aim to complete about 20 a day.

    I fell behind due to Ofsted, parents evening, and a school trip. 20 a day will see me finished just in time, whereas I used to have nearly a week spare.
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. JaneyEm27

    JaneyEm27 New commenter

    This is what they have suggested I do. I cannot afford 5 hours a night every night as I don't often get home until 6. It has never taken this long before (in fact, once I marked 2 papers at the same time and it didn't take this long, and one of those was A Level).

    The big issue is, I had to pay 350 quid to travel for the training and standardisation, which means I won't be in profit until I mark at least 50%. I am really disappointed with this board, as I just don't feel they are supportive or helpful.

    I guess I made my bed, but lesson learned.
  7. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Surely you can get expenses for this from the exam board. When I have gone to standardisation meetings, I have bene handed a form to cover travel, board and lodging etc plus the fee for the day.

    Yes, you can drop out now, and there might be other markers pleased to take up the slack. I have been asked to do this, as a gentleman of leisure with the time to do it. The disadvantage of giving up now is that the effective hourly pay rate goes up once you are used to the mark schemes. Could you ask for a reduction in your target number of papers rather than dropping out altogether?
    border_walker and JaneyEm27 like this.
  8. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    My board paid my travel expenses, and paid me for the training days (but I'm not teaching) and paid for my hotel + my evening meal(s). It shouldn't cost you anything. Lit P1 marking should be coming to an end by now. P2 probably has another week.
    border_walker and agathamorse like this.
  9. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    Yup, finishes Saturday.

    I'd normally be done by now as well, but a funeral and Ofsted scuppered those plans. Hell's Hell's bells until Friday night now.
  10. peppermint10

    peppermint10 New commenter

    It isn’t necessarily true you won’t get rehired. My colleague withdrew from marking GCSE Literature last year after marking a quarter of her quota and this year she is marking Language for the same board (AQA), who told her that they don’t hold it against you.
    JaneyEm27 likes this.
  11. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Yes, they are probably keen to keep experienced markers, and it may not be inconvenient for them if you do drop out. A couple of years ago, I had an email just after I had finished marking, asking for me to mark more papers because somebody else could not finish. I was happy to, as it was more of the easy money phase when I knew the whole mark scheme back to front and even what results the most common mistakes gave. So, a few minutes work for an administrator at the exam board.
  12. baitranger

    baitranger Established commenter

    Suppose an examiner for this board fell over in their garden and sprained both arms, leaving them in pain when they tried to do marking. They can just about manage at work, but any additional hours of marking are difficult and painful. That examiner would be forced to drop out for medical reasons. If the board demanded a medical certificate that examiner could send it in the post but things get lost in the post sometimes.
    On the other hand , a person's dog might sadly have just passed away , leaving the examiner grief stricken and unable to mark because of intense sadness. Are they going to ask for a dog death certificate?
  13. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If one of these sad events occurred, I assume that an exam board would take the marker's word for it. Surely nobody would make it up, when they had the option of explaining that their target had become too difficult to meet.

Share This Page