What is it?
When students complete an exam, an assignment or even a piece of classwork, tutors often grade this work based on a discipline specific mark scheme that is divided into categories. For example, in Modern Languages, the categories include content, structure, accuracy, style, range of expression, syntax, register and vocabulary. All categories are provided with a descriptor of each mark band that allows students to ascertain where their weaknesses and strengths lie in order to make further progress. Given that tutors often use the same mark scheme throughout the academic year, this type of feedback can also be useful for students to chart their progress over the course of the academic year.
How can students make the most of it?
As soon as students receive a piece of work that has been marked using a detailed mark scheme, it is important that they carefully analyse each category by reading the mark band they fall into in order to ascertain where their weaknesses and strengths lie. For example, if you achieved a high mark in the ‘accuracy’ band, and a much lower one in the ‘structure’ one, this suggests that you need to work on the structure of your work. It is also important that students study the higher mark bands to help them identify areas they can build upon in the future. In addition, if students are unclear about anything to do with the mark scheme, it is important that they consult their tutor who will be able to clarify any misunderstandings. Similarly, if students do not receive a detailed breakdown of their mark, they should be encourage to request one if they so wish.
Another way students can make the most of this feedback is by regularly charting their progress using the mark scheme as tutors often use the same one throughout the academic year. For example, you may obtain 60% in the ‘accuracy’ category in one assignment and 70% in the next. This would therefore suggest you have made significant progress, thus allowing you to concentrate on other areas of weakness if need be.