An examiners’ report from the almost-certainly terrifying people on the AQA exam board has suggested that students’ scores could actually be harmed by dodgy writing and the shortcomings of their own marking methods.
According to the Guardian, the majority of exam papers are now scanned and distributed electronically, to be marked onscreen. However, the software systems required for onscreen marking don’t exactly sound great, with clarity a particular issue.
“Once again, examiners commented that the answers of many students were difficult to read,” says the report, based on this year’s AQA A-level papers. “In some cases this was the result of poor handwriting or untidy and disorganised presentation. In other cases it resulted when students had not followed the instruction on the front of each examination paper to use black ink or black ballpoint pen.”
Okay, that last one’s definitely on the students. Just use the right colour.
The report also says that faint handwriting can be difficult to read and “may lead to issues” come marking time. An AQA spokesperson added, however, that whenever a script can’t be read onscreen, the original paper is requested from its scanning centre.
Unfortunately, the problems still don’t stop there. “While the scanning resolution isn’t great for online marking, some of the handwriting is so shoddy if you see it in real life it probably won’t help much,” the Guardian quotes an ‘experienced teacher’ with an untameable passion for calligraphy as saying.
You’re welcome kids. There are at least a couple of useable excuses in there. [Guardian]