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Science Marking Scheme For Essay

Not many students would admit to enjoying taking exams or writing essays, but if you want to get a degree, they're an ordeal you have to survive.

So we've worked out how to make the whole thing a little less stressful. We've persuaded four academics from a range of subject areas to tell us the top 10 things students get wrong in exams and coursework. This is what they've told us:

Panic and procrastination

Sometimes a task can feel so overwhelming that it's difficult to begin, says Amber Regis, lecturer in 19th century literature at the University of Sheffield. Procrastination takes over and you just can't seem to get anything done. The bare white page is a formidable foe when it stares back at you, untouched, from the library desk. Try not to panic, protect and manage your preparation time, and don't put off getting started.

Lack of analysis

It can be tempting to parrot everything you know when writing essays and exam answers. But to demonstrate your understanding you should engage critically with your source material. Always assume an informed reader — they do not need a plot summary or biographies of key figures. Read through the marking scheme used by your department. You will notice some very telling words and phrases attached to the highest marks, for example: "originality of interpretation", "astute engagement" and "critical thought". To fulfil these criteria, you must favour analysis.

Poor planning

In exams it's vital that you don't jump the gun. Take the first five to 10 minutes to read through the paper and plan the questions you're going to answer in order of how confident you feel in that subject area, says Bhavik Patel, lecturer in physical and analytical chemistry at University of Brighton. Make sure you secure the marks on the questions that you find easiest to answer first, before attempting questions that are more difficult. The latter often make you lose confidence and time during exam conditions.

Not reading the question properly

When revising, students often rehearse answers in their head. says Roy Jackson, course leader in religion, philosophy and ethics at the University of Gloucestershire. "Although we don't deliberately intend to catch them out in exams, we do set questions that requires them to think and reflect under timed conditions. But instead students will often pick up key words in the question and write out a rehearsed response."

This can be avoided by taking some time to reflect upon the question, rather than seeing that as wasted time and rushing to fill the pages.

Focusing on word count

In both exam responses and coursework, students are often more concerned with quantity rather than quality. The best essays are those that demonstrate evidence of personal reflection and are not just trying to achieve a word limit.

Insufficient reading around a subject

During revision time, students are too selective in what they choose to read, selecting one or two books and remembering as much from those as possible. What comes across in a good essay is confidence, and this can only be achieved by demonstrating plenty of reading on a subject, so that you can be prepared for any question that you come across. This also requires giving yourself plenty of time to read, and not leaving it until a few days before an exam or assignment.

Regurgitating in-class or lecture material

In English we are looking for excitement and originality of thought backed up by evidence and we don't want you to take our formulations as gospel truth, says Martin Eve, lecturer in English literature at the University of Lincoln. Challenge – and think for yourself.

Over-generalisation

Always make sure your statements are specific and show self-awareness. Do say: "There is no one single representation of working-class life in post-50s British fiction". Don't ever go for something like: "Novels that feature the working class show us that these people..."

Carelessness

Getting characters' names or other basic factual details wrong just smacks of not caring. If you don't care enough to do this correctly when you're paying to be at university, what will an employer think when he or she is paying you?

Spelling, grammar and register

Universities have a standard academic English in which you should write. The best way to become proficient at this is to read a great number of academic journal articles and books and mirror the register, language and tone (but not the content: never plagiarise!). It can also help to write a small amount every day as a form of practice.

Marking Scheme for Writing Assignments

This scheme is currently used on the writing courses and some other courses at the Athabasca University. It should be used as a guide to writing expectations. Some instructors may use different marking schemes.

Content—refers to the following elements:

  • A clear understanding and complete analysis of the topic (given the length/scope of the assignment)
  • An awareness of audience and purpose
  • The use of appropriate quotations (where relevant)
  • Originality of ideas and expression
  • Appropriate evidence of reading and research (where relevant)

10

Outstanding

  • Original ideas well developed, relevant, and thoroughly supported
  • Analysis complete
  • Ideas and expressions original
  • Evidence of reading and research apparent (where appropriate)
  • Perceptive insights
  • Text interesting

9

Excellent

  • Topic coverage complete
  • Appropriate elements achieved to a high degree
  • Many ideas and expressions original
  • Some evidence of research (where appropriate)
  • Text interesting and shows promise

8

Very good

  • Topic coverage mainly complete
  • Most elements completed well

7

Good

  • Topic coverage nearly complete—minor omissions only
  • Analysis weak in places

6

Satisfactory

  • Topic coverage basic
  • Evidence of some analysis

5

Sufficient—improvement needed

  • Topic coverage just adequate
  • Other elements present at a basic level
  • Minor omissions in some elements

4

Insufficient—remediation suggested

  • Topic coverage inadequate
  • Analysis lacking
  • Text uninteresting
  • Omissions in several elements

3

Unsatisfactory—remedial work needed

  • Intent of the writing difficult to understand
  • Omissions in most elements

2

  • Text unfocussed and confusing
  • Major omissions in all elements

1

  • Off-topic
  • Complete lack of audience awareness
  • Text unfocussed and confusing

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Organization—refers to the following elements:

  • A clear thesis statement
  • A variety of effective transitions to make the writing ‘flow’
  • Appropriate and logical structure both within the assignment as a whole and within the paragraph
  • Good main ideas at the paragraph level
  • Maintenance of ‘purpose’ of the writing
  • An introduction, development and conclusion (paragraphs at the essay level; sentences at the paragraph level
  • Effective sentence variety
  • An awareness of audience

10

Outstanding

  • Arguments thoroughly developed
  • Strong links between sentences and paragraphs making the text logical
  • Appropriate introduction, development and conclusion
  • Mastery of the organizational elements

9

Excellent

  • Appropriate elements achieved to a high degree
  • Structure logical and readily discernible

8

Very good

  • Structure apparent
  • Effective transitions
  • Most elements completed well

7

Good

  • Some minor omissions so that ‘flow’ is not well maintained
  • Structure mainly discernible

6

Satisfactory

  • Structure apparent but at a basic level
  • Omissions in some elements cause ‘flow’ problems

5

Sufficient—improvement needed

  • Structure just adequate
  • Other elements present at a basic level
  • Problems with some elements cause lack of ‘flow’

4

Insufficient—remediation suggested

  • Structure inadequate
  • Lack of logical connection between parts of writing
  • Omissions in several elements

3

Unsatisfactory—remedial work needed

  • Structure and ‘flow’ problems cause confusion
  • No clear purpose to the writing
  • Omissions generalized

2

  • Structure unfocussed and confusing
  • Shift(s) of purpose
  • Major omissions in elements

1

  • Purpose unsupported by structure
  • Complete lack of audience awareness
  • Shift of focus and purpose
  • Major omissions generalized

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Mechanics—refers to the following elements:

  • Spelling, correct and consistent in usage
  • Punctuation, correct, consistent and with appropriate variety
  • Capitalization
  • Legibility, particularly of handwritten assignments

10

Outstanding

  • Mastery of all elements
  • No errors

9

Excellent

  • All elements achieved to high degree
  • One or two minor errors only

8

Very good

  • Most elements completed well
  • Minor errors only, not affecting meaning

7

Good

  • Minor errors in at least three elements
  • Errors not affecting meaning

6

Satisfactory

  • Errors in all elements
  • Errors distract reader and interfere with understanding

5

Sufficient—improvement needed

  • Errors in all elements
  • Errors affect meaning
  • Use of elements is only basic

4

Insufficient—remediation suggested

  • Major errors in more than one element
  • Inconsistency of usage
  • Errors cause some comprehension problems

3

Unsatisfactory—remedial work needed

  • Major errors in most elements

2

  • Major errors in all elements
  • Errors cause comprehension problems

1

  • Complete, or almost complete lack of elements
  • Errors cause serious comprehension problems

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Grammar—refers to the following elements:

  • Sentence formation; clauses and phrases appropriately formed and connected
  • Word order and form
  • Verb tense, form, voice (active or passive), and mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive)
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Pronoun case forms and pronoun agreement with antecedent
  • Appropriate adjective and adverb form
  • Parallelism
  • Appropriate use of modifiers
  • Direct and indirect speech

10

Outstanding

  • Correction of text not required
  • A variety of complex grammatical structures used
  • Evidence of mastery of advanced and complex structures

9

Excellent

  • Text is almost perfect
  • Evidence of near mastery of advanced and complex structures
  • All appropriate elements achieved at high level of competence

8

Very good

  • Most elements completed well; only a few minor errors
  • High level achievement of most elements

7

Good

  • Minor errors in more than one type of structure
  • Meaning and comprehension not affected by errors
  • Variety of complex structures is used

6

Satisfactory

  • Minor errors in several types of structure
  • Errors distracting but no interference with comprehension

5

Sufficient—improvement needed

  • Some major errors apparent and several minor ones
  • Errors cause some problems with clarity or cause minor confusion

4

Insufficient—remediation suggested

  • Variety of major, global errors
  • Errors distract reader, impeding meaning and comprehension

3

Unsatisfactory—remedial work needed

  • Pervasive and major errors
  • Errors present serious impediment to meaning and comprehension

2

  • Errors basic and pervasive in nature
  • Comprehension difficult

1

  • Numerous errors, even basic ones
  • Text incomprehensible

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Style—refers to the following elements:

  • Evidence of stylistic control
  • Writing at the appropriate language level (informal, general, formal)
  • Writing appropriate to content, subject, purpose, and audience
  • Demonstration of effective tone and appropriate vocabulary
  • Evidence of creativity
  • Length and complexity of sentences
  • Maintenance of consistent style

Common indicators of stylistic problems include:

  • Shift of focus
  • Monotonous repetition of one or two syntactical patterns
  • Change in level or tone
  • Pretension (attempt at outward show of ability that appears to be false or inaccurate)
  • Use of slang expressions and clichés
  • Choppiness (short, unconnected sentences)

10

Outstanding

  • Evidence of mastery of all appropriate elements
  • Style perceptive and consistent

9

Excellent

  • All appropriate elements achieved to high degree

8

Very good

  • Most elements completed well
  • No significantly detraction from writing from minor omission

7

Good

  • Some omissions in several categories
  • Omissions begin to detract from writing

6

Satisfactory

  • Inconsistent application of style rules
  • Elements present at basic level only

5

Sufficient—improvement needed

  • Most elements present at basic level
  • Inconsistencies and omissions detract from the writing

4

Insufficient—remediation suggested

  • Some basic elements missing
  • Inconsistencies and omissions a serious distraction

3

Unsatisfactory—remedial work needed

  • Most skills insufficient for assignment
  • Omissions generalized

2

  • Text unfocussed and confusing
  • Major omissions in elements

1

  • Text unstructured and incoherent
  • Lack of all required skills

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Updated September 10 2014 by Student & Academic Services