6 Tips For Exam Essay Marking

It's the holidays for me but an exam paper marking nightmare for many others. ***haha~~ poor baskets!***
I have marked all my papers & discussed them with my classes.
I am a very strict teacher & an even stricter marker. If I do not give you a certain grade, don't you dare to challenge me or I will drown you with 101 reasons why you do not deserve the grade.
Fortunately, I have yet to meet a small eyed slouch following me around with an umbrella bent on squeezing every mark he can out of me. ***based on a true story***

To help you in your plight, here are 6 Tips For Exam Essay Marking for those of you who are new to teaching, open to new ideas or struggling through your skyscraper high pile of horrigible unintelligible scribble.
**This is written by a PMR English language teacher & may not apply to all situations**

#6 Review References & Keep Them Nearby
The references mentioned here are the scoring criteria & answer schemes.
You need to know what keywords to look for & how to appropriately score the essays.
I have my scoring criteria & answer schemes printed out & kept in full view whenever I am marking.
I usually refer to them about once per 2 exam papers.

Please do NOT mark blindly without reference.
You must have a reason for awarding a particular score.
The best reasons are related to the scoring criteria supplied by the ministry & the answer schemes for the particular exam.

#5 Form by Form with the Best Class First
If you are a teacher in Malaysia, chances are you teach at least 4 classes of various forms & proficiencies.
I teach 2 Form 3 & 2 Form 1 classes.
I mark these classes in a specific order.

I will mark my best class first.
Then, I will move down the proficiency ladder until I finish the whole form.
Only then will I move on to the next form.

As I move down the classes, I know that their scores will not be higher than the better classes.
I would also advise you to finish marking the whole form before moving on to the next one to avoid keyword/answer/format confusion.

#4 Best Students First. Then, Shortest to Longest.
If you pay any attention or have the littlest concern for your students, you will have a general idea of who will do well in the exam even before they take the test.
I will mark the best students first.
Then, I will mark the shortest essays & then move on to the longer essays.

I mark the best students first because this gives me an idea of what the better essays should be like & will prevent me from awarding too high a score to weaker essays.
I mark the shortest essays first because they often deserve a low score & I know that the next essays will more or less have a higher score.
Marking the shorter essays first will also allow you to work faster & motivate you to continue marking until the end.

#3 Do Not Read Between the Lines or Correct
As a new teacher, my attention to detail has always caused me to correct the exam essays.
In the end, the essays would have improved due to my 'tampering'.
Thus, limit your marking to a few symbols like ticking & underlining.

Also, do NOT read between the lines.
Come on, let's face it... Students are not all that brilliant.
They are not Shakespeare so don't force yourself to understand what they are 'trying' to say.
Mark the essays for what it is & give a score for what is there.

#2 Note Down Mistakes & Merits
I think it is very important to give students feedback on their evaluations.
Furthermore, they will be more receptive because it comes from an exam that counts for something.
I have a notebook where I note down the mistakes & merits made in their exam essays.

I make it a point to give them a loud lip-lashing before making each of them copy down & recite each of these points as if their lives depended on it.
They will also have to do the necessary correction drills like making everyone write each grammatical & spelling mistake from my notebook 20 times.
Somehow I manage to force it every time.
***snickers with pleasure***

#1 Do Not Care
It is strange. No matter how horrible the students are, a teacher will tend to feel bad about his/herself when they do not do well.
Allow me to be the devil's advocate & give you a valuable piece of advice... DO NOT CARE!
In fact, get angry. Really really ANGRY!!

Any teacher who cares enough about the students to actually feel bad when they do not do well would have done these few things before the exams:
- exposed students to answering techniques
- exposed students to sample questions
- given students lots of exercises
- told students what to study
- even dropped a few wink wink hints

Therefore, if they do not do well...
Get righteously ANGRY & bring out the candy-cane for a nice whipping.

Hope this helps!
Do leave a comment if you have your own tips to share!
Do your best! Remember to eat lots of chocolate & drink lots of tuak! =)

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