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Thread: HSC Exam Marking Process

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    cem
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    Re: Explanation of HSC Marks (Moderating)

    A few notes from an HSC marker (Modern History 1992 - 2005 and hoping for 2006 but won't know for another month or so until the appointment letters for this year are sent out).

    The supervisor at your centre ensures that all the papers have been collected from your exams and that a note is made if a student is absent. They will have some paper work to fill in which will mention your school but that is not on the paper that goes to the markers.

    They then send the papers to the marking centre. At the marking centre the clerical staff check that what the exam centre said it sent has actually arrived and arrange the questions into piles according to the requirements of the subject. They also put on each pile the mark pages for the markers to write on. At this marking centre all papers within a particular subject are marked. They are not marked in different centres for different regions.

    Marking starts some days after you do the exam - I mark Modern History and have done so since 1992 and have never started marking less than four days after the exam and usually closer to a week. This year it will be over a week after the exam before we start marking.

    This is to allow time for most of the papers from around the world - yes the world as students do sit the HSC in places other than NSW - to reach the marking centre - mostly at Homebush but not all of them are marked there. Some subjects are marked in places like Bathurst - but that is where the entire exam is marked - or the entire section of the paper not just papers from different regions.

    A marking session or two is spent by the Senior Markers working out sample scripts at each standard for their team of markers to use in the first day or so to get their standard right - i.e. so that all markers in each group and across the same question are marking to the same standard. Senior Markers start a day or so before the rest of the markers.

    Usually after about 6 hours of this briefing (remember I am talking Modern History here but other exams are similar in format just the briefing time may be longer or shorter depending on the question) markers start marking for real.

    Two markers from the team mark each set of papers but not at the same time - usually a day or so will pass between the first and second marks. At Modern we will mark about 45 essays a night which the clerical staff will collect after we have finished and then they record the first mark. A day or so later they will give another marker that entire bundle to do the second mark. One thing to note is that if you are at a school with more than 20 students in the course it is possible that not everyone from your school will even be marked by the same markers depending on how each subject organises the piles. Some do bundle entire schools and other subjects divide large classes into bundles of 20 (20 students are listed on one page of the markers sheet). The next 20 students might even be marked by a different team of markers.

    Each subject does this slightly differently but at Modern the Senior Marker only marks those responses where the two markers in their group are discrepant in their marks e.g. I give a question 18/25 and the second marker gives it 12/25 then the Senior Marker would read the paper and decide on the right mark. If the difference is 3 or less there is no third mark.

    At no time do we know which school we are marking. When the papers are collected at your school there is a paper that indicates the school but markers do NOT see that paper. That is dealt with only by the clerical staff.

    The only information we have on the papers we are marking are the centre numbers and the student numbers within that centre. Sure sometimes someone may know a centre number because they have taught at that school but that is rare.

    Markers do not mark there own school nor the school where a close family member is sitting that exam. On the desk where we are sitting there is a form identifying our school and its centre number so the clerical staff who issue the bundles to be marked can ensure that you don't mark your own school and even if you did the computer would pick it up when the marks are entered as the marker indicates which bundle they mark. If a mistake did happen and a marker got their own school and didn't pick it up then the computer would simply tell the clerical staff that the first/second mark needs to be redone (computer won't accept marks if the marker's school centre number and the school centre number whose marks are being entered are registered as being the same)

    We do not all come from good schools. I mark with people from a range of schools - private, public, catholic, selective. Any teacher who has taught the subject for the required years - each subject will differ here depending on the number of applicants - can apply and the Supervisor of Marking is required to have a range of teachers from different schools, systems and experience so that all different abilities and experiences are included in the groups.

    Please believe me when I say that we are as fair as we can be.

    Sure sometimes we are tired when we mark but we do do our best to be fair and unbiased and the BOS does its best to give you the marks you deserve.


    You sound like you don't want to believe in our intregrity - we do really try to give marks to students and to be fair and to suggest anything less is not fair to the markers who are professional and want to give students fair marks for the work presented.

    As for saying that if we got a bad essay first up we will be biased against the rest in that bundle - that is not my experience.

    I have often come across a weak first essay and then had some brilliant ones in the same centre and vice versa. As a teacher of many years standing I am fully aware that the first student alphabetically in the group is not always the best indicator of the ability level of the entire class and those with whom I have marked over the years would feel the same.


    Sorry for the length of the post but I felt that it was important to get some facts out there about the integrity of the marking process and the professionalism of the teachers who do the marking of these exams, which are so important to thing young people of NSW.

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    Re: Explanation of HSC Marks (Moderating)

    Just clarifying a few points.

    Maths are not marked a common centre.

    For non essay based subjects like the sciences all papers are not double marked. After the briefing session, markers will do a couple of hours of double marking. Then it changes over to single marking. Random samples from each group are check marked by the senior marker. This includes seven markers, which are still considered to be short answer by BOS.

    However, markers discuss with pilot markers any papers that do not fit the normal marking scheme.

    I would endorse what CEM has said about the integrity of the system as a marker as well.
    Last edited by helper; 29 Aug 2006 at 11:37 PM.

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    cem
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    Re: Explanation of HSC Marks (Moderating)

    A couple of pieces of advice that might seem obvious but you would be surprised how often students, and top students at that, make these sorts of mistakes.


    If you have to do a multi-part question e.g. personality in Modern History make sure that you answer each section separately and independently of each other. The marks are awarded separately - if you say something in part one it doesn't carry over to part two.


    Clearly indicate where each part in a multi-part question begins. If you don't then the Senior Marker will make that decision for you and it may not be where you wanted it to be (or the marker may not even pick it as a two parter and then you get a Non Attempt for a part).


    Of course if your subject does want you to merge the parts they will make this clear usually by not indicating separate marks for the separate sections.

    In short - if marks are allocated separately then usually you need to write separate responses so the marker can award the marks separately.


    Sorry about forgeting that Maths is marked by the markers at their own homes and not collegially but they still have strict marking guidelines to adhere to.

    In Modern History the first part of the Core is single marked - because it is all so straight forward and most kids get full marks for it.



    If you need new books ask for them - don't crowd your pages - that can become confusing to markers.


    Remember though what my first Senior Marker told my group the first afternoon we were being briefed is a credo by which every marker I know operates


    "these kids have worked their butts off for the last 13 years or so and our job is to give them as many marks as we possibly can"


    I have never forgotten that advice and do try to really look hard and ask myself can I go any higher with this mark?

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    HSC Exam Marking Process

    This thread will have information added about the procedures and processes involved in the marking of HSC exams.
    B Science @ UNSW (Major in Psychology)

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    cem
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    Re: Board Of Studies..Any HSC Mark Documents?

    The marking guidelines for past papers are on the BOS websites.

    How the marking process works is very simple.

    For essay based subjects the Supervisor of Marking and the Senior Markers gather a couple of days after the exam and start reading some of the scripts to find ones that match the different criteria set in the marking guidelines written by the examination committee when they wrote the exam.

    After doing that for a day or a couple of nights then the rest of the markers will arrive and spend about 6 or so hours briefing on the question/s they are marking. They will then begin the marking process which involves the clerical staff giving the markers piles of scripts (in school piles). Each marker reads the script (or essay) and writes a mark on a separate page which has the centre number and student numbers on it. These piles, with marking page, are then collected and reissued to a second marker who also marks the script, without knowing the mark from the first marker. The clerical staff then enter the marks into the computer which will highlight any discripant scripts which are then taken back to a Senior Marker to mark a third time. The discrepancy mark varies (I have had it as high as 6/25 and as low as 2/10).

    For subjects like Maths I really don't know other than that they are marked at home after a briefing session.

    For multiple choice they are computer marked.

    The aligning is done by the judging team, who are also markers, and happens during in and shortly after the marking process. These people concentrate on the marking guidelines, the question and the performance descriptor bands to work out the minumum mark needed by a student at the band cut-off. This is worked out question by question (although not alll questions are done - in Modern History it is one question per section and I believe that is the case in other subjects where there are choices). The individual judges recommend a series of marks at each cut off and the groups marks are averaged and then the averages are added and that is the final recommendation.
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    Re: Marking in exams

    As an HSC marker (Modern History) I can assure you that we do read eveything but... taking a new book is advisable as it makes things easier for us to read.

    We are expected to mark one essay evey 5 minutes on average so students who write all over the place do slow us down a bit.

    Avoid writing on the back of the page as it can go through the front side - again affecting the ease of reading for the markers - and if is is only a little piece of writing may get overlooked.

    If you do do a question in a book which is mislablled we will pick it up, report it to our Senior Marker and who will pass it up to the appropriate authorities to change the label and get it marked properly e.g. if you label a booklet as being on Germany 1919 - 1939 and you do Conflict in the Pacific in that book (sure you would be using question numbers but...) then the marker will pass it up the line so that it reaches the correct group of markers. This also happens when a student starts more than one question in the same booklet but it is better if you take a new booklet whenever you need to do so.
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Just a note, Maths is the only subjec that I know of that the examiners write on your paper.

    They write your mark next to each question part and then sum up for each question on the front of the first booklet.

    In maths, they sometimes use abbreviations such as,
    J = Justify (i think)
    TE = Transcription Error

    They may also underline a line to indicate that an error has been made on that line.

    Source: My 2007 HSC Maths examination scripts.
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Cem, can you tell me anything about scaling between different subject areas in modern history? For example the paper I did today, I think the Germany questions were considerably easier than the USA questions - if this turns out to be true, will the examiners scale the USA answers accordingly?


    Thanks for your help

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    Re: Board Of Studies..Any HSC Mark Documents?

    Quote Originally Posted by cem
    The marking guidelines for past papers are on the BOS websites.

    How the marking process works is very simple.

    For essay based subjects the Supervisor of Marking and the Senior Markers gather a couple of days after the exam and start reading some of the scripts to find ones that match the different criteria set in the marking guidelines written by the examination committee when they wrote the exam.

    After doing that for a day or a couple of nights then the rest of the markers will arrive and spend about 6 or so hours briefing on the question/s they are marking. They will then begin the marking process which involves the clerical staff giving the markers piles of scripts (in school piles). Each marker reads the script (or essay) and writes a mark on a separate page which has the centre number and student numbers on it. These piles, with marking page, are then collected and reissued to a second marker who also marks the script, without knowing the mark from the first marker. The clerical staff then enter the marks into the computer which will highlight any discripant scripts which are then taken back to a Senior Marker to mark a third time. The discrepancy mark varies (I have had it as high as 6/25 and as low as 2/10).


    The aligning is done by the judging team, who are also markers, and happens during in and shortly after the marking process. These people concentrate on the marking guidelines, the question and the performance descriptor bands to work out the minumum mark needed by a student at the band cut-off. This is worked out question by question (although not alll questions are done - in Modern History it is one question per section and I believe that is the case in other subjects where there are choices). The individual judges recommend a series of marks at each cut off and the groups marks are averaged and then the averages are added and that is the final recommendation.
    cem, thank you for sharing your knowledge! makes me feel so much better to know what the Senior Marker said to you - "These kids have worked their butts off for 13 years..." etc

    I just wanted to ask, if raw band cut-offs for the Modern essay questions are worked out for only one option Q in a section where there are choices...What happens if one option within the section is considerably harder than others?
    Within the National Study section of Modern, for example, is a raw band cutoff set using only one option from one national study? Or do they select one option from each National study to set the band cutoffs?
    My modern teacher, who has been a marker in the past, said that today's Germany Q option A was harder than B...But that just may be subjective.
    Thanks for your help.

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    cem
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by janaranaran!
    Cem, can you tell me anything about scaling between different subject areas in modern history? For example the paper I did today, I think the Germany questions were considerably easier than the USA questions - if this turns out to be true, will the examiners scale the USA answers accordingly?


    Thanks for your help

    The official examiners (those that set the papers) have always maintained that all questions are of equal difficulty (although I don't always agree). When we say to one of them that we feel that one question in a pair of questions is harder than the alternative they say they are all set to the same standard and, most importantly, marked on the same marking scale.

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    Re: Board Of Studies..Any HSC Mark Documents?

    Quote Originally Posted by fallenstar
    cem, thank you for sharing your knowledge! makes me feel so much better to know what the Senior Marker said to you - "These kids have worked their butts off for 13 years..." etc

    I just wanted to ask, if raw band cut-offs for the Modern essay questions are worked out for only one option Q in a section where there are choices...What happens if one option within the section is considerably harder than others?
    Within the National Study section of Modern, for example, is a raw band cutoff set using only one option from one national study? Or do they select one option from each National study to set the band cutoffs?
    My modern teacher, who has been a marker in the past, said that today's Germany Q option A was harder than B...But that just may be subjective.
    Thanks for your help.

    The cut-offs are worked out on one option per section i.e. World War One, and then one National Study, one Personality and one International Study. They use the most popular response in each section - usually one Germany, Speer and one Indo-China (but if another topic/essay is the most popular they will use that).

    That is to give the best range of marks as usually a very large % of the state will attempt those questions.

    As it takes about 20 hours to actually go through the aligning process with only four questions to do any more would add just too many hours to the process and delay the results.

    When I first went on the aligning panel they actually told us that if they did every question in Ancient History they would still be aligning the Ancient Paper when the students were starting university as it takes that long.
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by cem
    The official examiners (those that set the papers) have always maintained that all questions are of equal difficulty (although I don't always agree). When we say to one of them that we feel that one question in a pair of questions is harder than the alternative they say they are all set to the same standard and, most importantly, marked on the same marking scale.
    Hahha "all questions are equal" is such a load of shit.

    One year, an ancient question was about the military campaigns of Horemheb. I'd forgive you if you've never heard of him because both his reign and his military campaigns (whilst actually very interesting) were not at all extensive.

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    Re: Explanation of HSC Marks (Moderating)

    Quote Originally Posted by lou071
    when the markers mark the essay, and if there is a quite big difference, like you said, how do they solve this problem?
    like i know you said that the senior markers come and judge it but what if other senior mark think differently? so 1 marker and 1 senior mark give 18/25 and another 1 marker and 1 senior marker give 12/25
    After the two markers have marked it if there is a difference the Senior Marker makes the decision by either agreeing with one or other of the original marker or deciding on a separate mark, somewhere in between normally.

    However, on occasions (like about 5 times in my 16 years of marking) the Senior Marker has passed it to another Senior Marker to get a fourth opinion.

    One year one essay was passed around all the markers on that question and there were two camps - one was for a very high A range response and the other was at the other end - it was a 'left field' response - one that just approached the question from a very unusual approach but in the end the essay was given the high A range.

    Usually it is just left to the Senior Marker to make the decision.
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    Re: Board Of Studies..Any HSC Mark Documents?

    Quote Originally Posted by cem
    The cut-offs are worked out on one option per section i.e. World War One, and then one National Study, one Personality and one International Study. They use the most popular response in each section - usually one Germany, Speer and one Indo-China (but if another topic/essay is the most popular they will use that).

    That is to give the best range of marks as usually a very large % of the state will attempt those questions.

    As it takes about 20 hours to actually go through the aligning process with only four questions to do any more would add just too many hours to the process and delay the results.

    When I first went on the aligning panel they actually told us that if they did every question in Ancient History they would still be aligning the Ancient Paper when the students were starting university as it takes that long.
    Haha well now I can see that doing all Qs in Mod, or at least one from each national study, would be quite extensive...
    Thanks for your help.

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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by cem
    The official examiners (those that set the papers) have always maintained that all questions are of equal difficulty (although I don't always agree). When we say to one of them that we feel that one question in a pair of questions is harder than the alternative they say they are all set to the same standard and, most importantly, marked on the same marking scale.
    equal difficulty? yeah right

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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    CEM, I know the answer in sicences, only one of the options are judged. Do you know what they do in history?

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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by helper
    CEM, I know the answer in sicences, only one of the options are judged. Do you know what they do in history?
    For all subjects with sections e.g. Core, Personality, National, International (for Ancient Period and Society) the most popular question in each section is judged e.g. one Germany, one Indo-China and Speer as these are the most popular options and questions within the option.

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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Pilot Marking in science has apparently been removed, true or false?
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    my phys teacher says that pilot marking in the sciences still happens.
    Quote Originally Posted by Carrotsticks View Post
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    What happens if a teacher looses your exam?

    Or what would happen if the whole facility caught on fire, and everyone's HSC exams were destroyed?
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    bump
    Quote Originally Posted by Carrotsticks View Post
    cos I'm thirsty af always
    Quote Originally Posted by teridax View Post
    +1 BoS went to a whole new level of stupid.

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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by Flop21 View Post
    What happens if a teacher looses your exam?

    Or what would happen if the whole facility caught on fire, and everyone's HSC exams were destroyed?
    My friends english paper went missing in the HSC, and I think they got an estimate for that section.
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by Flop21 View Post
    What happens if a teacher looses your exam?

    Or what would happen if the whole facility caught on fire, and everyone's HSC exams were destroyed?
    Are you talking about at school or the HSC itself?

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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    Quote Originally Posted by cem View Post
    Are you talking about at school or the HSC itself?
    The HSC, the externals. Say they go missing or there's a fire in the marking centre.
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    Re: HSC Exam Marking Process

    The HSC has very stringent processes in place but occasionally an odd paper gets 'lost'. It usually turns up during the ongoing sorting process but in that case an estimate based on the school's marks would be issued as a 'misadventure'.

    The same if there was a fire and the entire lot of papers were burnt.

    These days though with the papers being scanned very quickly after being written they would still have the papers online if the paper papers were burnt.
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