Time management as well as preparation are the key to assessment success, it’s also important to remember to look after yourself too.
So to help here are my five top tips to help my fellow assessors when managing marking during the busy summer series when preparing for the marking period, which can be very intense so it’s very important to have a couple of things in mind.
Firstly, even before the exams start, organise your working space. I clean, and unclutter the room and desk where I’m going to be working, and I have a second screen, which helps with visualizing material. I’ve also found that it improves my marking targets as I don’t have to ‘jump’ between windows when looking at any material I need to help me.
Install the marking system, RM Assessor, as soon as you can to make sure your computer is ready and running. Every year I uninstall and install again, to avoid any potential glitches, sometimes enlisting ‘remote’ help from the very supportive team on the RM Helpdesk.
As soon as your Team Leader gives you the go to look at the Mark Scheme and start marking practice scripts, go for it. This way you have more time to clear any doubts with your Team Leader, and deal with any technical issues that might arise.
If you attend a standardisation meeting, don’t forget to collect all the necessary forms and save all the receipts you’ll need to claim your expenses later. I always put my expense forms through as soon as I return home; this way I don’t worry about submitting claims when I’m actively marking.
It’s essential that you familiarise yourself with important dates: exam sitting, 50% batch, 100% batch.
Before standardisation takes place, grab all the books and extra materials you might need during the marking period and keep them close to your working area.
Reply to messages in RM Assessor as soon as you can, and ask questions as soon as you have them. Remember that your doubts or suggestions can also help other members of the team to develop a better workflow.
Keep hydrated! Coffee, tea, water, whatever rocks your boat, and don’t forget to eat and take regular breaks! I generally make a point of leaving food and drink out of reach so that I have to get up, stretch, and fix myself something.
Don’t forget to get plenty of rest! Relax in the evening and recharge for the next day. It’s important to give some attention to the family, who becomes almost ‘forgotten’ when the deadlines are approaching. It’s also important to have some ‘me’ time! Since marking takes place during the summertime, and because I enjoy knitting and crocheting, I always find a little bit of time to work away from the screen to produce something with my own hands (not with the keyboard and mouse!), and unwind!
I hope this post helps you. If you have any suggestions for good practice please share them in the comments below, and if you have any questions get in touch via our Twitter account.
Ana Lessa, Assessment Specialist for A Level Portuguese
Ana Lessa is a linguist and Assessment Specialist for A Level Portuguese. She’s been teaching English and Portuguese at university level since 2000, and marking Portuguese language exams for OCR since 2015.