Research and analysis

Survey of teachers on quality of marking in GCSEs and A levels

Findings from a 2013 survey of teachers as part of Ofqual's research into the quality of marking in GCSEs and A levels.


Quality of Marking in General Qualifications - Survey of Teachers 2013

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Overall perceptions of marking

The findings showed that:

  • for GCSEs: 36% had confidence in the quality of marking compared to 54% that didn’t
  • for A levels: 38% had confidence in the quality of marking compared to 49% that didn’t
  • independent schools were least likely to have confidence in A levels
  • comprehensive schools were more critical of GCSEs

Perceptions of elements of the marking process

Perceptions of the marking process were divided with almost as many negative views as positive ones:

  • 54% of respondents agreed that examiners were subject experts compared with 38% that disagreed
  • 54% agreed that examiners were trained in how to correctly apply mark schemes correctly compared with 40% that disagreed
  • respondents were less likely to believe that examiners’ marking was monitored throughout the marking process: 44% agreed and 43% disagreed

Knowledge of marking

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high:

  • just under three quarters of teachers ranked their own knowledge of the process that students’ scripts go through as being five or higher
  • 59% rated their knowledge at 7 out of 10 or higher

Proposed improvements to the marking system

Few respondents made specific or detailed suggestions as to how the quality of marking of exams might be improved. The greatest number of suggestions, 31%, related to examiners themselves.

Many respondents suggested that examiners should have more experience and should be subject specialists. Due to the brevity of responses, it is unclear whether these teachers do not believe this is the case currently, or whether they were merely reiterating the importance of these qualities.

A further 14% wanted better training for examiners, 10% wanted better pay for examiners, and 7% suggested more generous deadlines and fewer time constraints for examiners.

Attitudes towards examining

60% of respondents had never examined. Those who were examiners or had examined believed the experience had helped them in their teaching profession through a better understanding of exam requirements and of the application of mark schemes.

9 out of 10 assistant, deputy and head teachers stated they encouraged their staff to become examiners and most (87%) reported that they had at least one teacher working as an examiner within their school or college.

Published 14 February 2014