Think Like a Marker

Dr Deborah McFarlane

The bottom line in terms of grades is that academics are grading the work you submit. It’s not uncommon for very able students to get ‘stuck’ with middle grades and feel frustrated trying to understand why. One key reason can be a simple failure to really respond to the project brief. So, a key way to improve your grades is to tap into your markers head to work out what they are looking for! 

Luckily, you don’t need to be a mystic to do this. Every course will have its own grading matrix which differentiates the key skills being assessed in graded work and what level you must demonstrate at each to fall within different grade boundaries. If you have never seen this kind of matrix look on your ELE/ Learning Space pages, flick through your course handbook, or ask your tutor. 

Once you find the matrix, read it properly. What grade do you think you currently work at? Read the specification and the one for the grade boundary above it – what can you identify that you could do to ‘up your game’ for your next submission? Is there something that you don’t understand? Use the Study Hub to look more into this, or come along to an ASK session on campus.

Get into the habit of referring to the matrix as you write, but also as you look at your own feedback. If your course allows peer review, swap a draft with a friend and mark one another’s work – try to help one another to improve your work but in the process, begin to think like a marker and in doing so, become a better student.