What to do with mock exams – part 2

Thanks to Martyn Bajkowski, Head of History at Pleckgate High School and a member of HA Secondary Committee for continuing this series of three blogposts to help us to make the best possible use of mock exams. 

Stage 2 – After their exam

  1. Standardisation

After students have sat their examination it is important to get hold a range of answers but I would suggest no more than three. Ideally one of your high attaining students, a steady middle and one of your lower attaining students’ work. What you are looking at is a range of level 2 and 3 answers with the odd level 4 or 1. We then mark each question and write our own mark scheme.

It is whilst doing this that we flesh out:

  • what is and what isn’t acceptable for that question;
  • where they have achieved marks;
  • what students could have done more of /differently to reach the next level
  • The common misconceptions students might have

The mark scheme we write will obviously not cater for all answers but should do for most. What we achieve, above all, is a consistency in approach, as well as reinforcing what a good history looks like and where common errors occur when trying to do this.

  1. Marking

In the past we did not always maintain this consistency during this process. Having anonymised scripts has helped us with this. This avoids the temptation to ‘send a message’ with your marking by either giving a hard working student a boost with an extra mark or two, or conversely penalising a less hard working student with a mark at the bottom of a level.

We also mark a range of ability.  In the past we found that teachers might be too harsh on those students at the bottom of their high attaining class whilst a teacher of a lower prior attaining class might be over generous with their top students as it is the best (occasionally only legitimate) answer they have seen.

Finally we mark a question at a time.  We find that leads to greater consistency in our marking.

  1. Moderation

Moderating used to be a time consuming process and effectively meant the head of department marking additional scripts. We have moved away from this and instead I place 3 additional ‘seeded’ scripts in each pile. As our scripts are anonymised it gives an accurate picture of how consistent teachers have been throughout the process. It also highlights particular questions or level discrepancies. As HoD I can then quickly select other relevant scripts and talk to the teacher about how they have come to this decision.

I also provide feedback sheets to teachers, like the exam board, which often re confirms how accurate they have been.

To be continued!

We hope you are finding #OBHD blogposts useful and that you will let us know what other posts would be useful and also think about writing a blogpost yourself – contact enquiries@history.org.uk




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