Research and analysis
Standardisation methods, mark schemes: marking reliability
A literature review to understand possible factors that affect marking reliability in GCSE and A level exams.
Ref: Ofqual/14/5380 PDF, 1.08MB, 70 pages
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.
Perhaps the single most consistent underlying factor identified in all the work that relates to the effect of mark schemes on reliability is the need for clarity and avoiding unnecessary complications. This applies whether the mark scheme in question is for an objective item with a single correct answer or a levels-based scheme for an extended piece of writing.
It is, however, important to realise that the pursuit of simplicity should not involve a threat to validity, a point made in several of the relevant papers. Some authors argue for a clear statement of the principle behind the award of credit rather than attempting to anticipate the entire outcome space.