A Taxonomy of Mark Schemes

In our early work we gave too little attention to the role of the mark scheme in assuring validity. We corrected this weakness through work with SQA in Scotland and QCA in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and published in 2008 the first version of a taxonomy to guide examiners in writing good mark schemes for different types of question.

We recognise three kinds of question, varying in how much they constrain the students' responses: Very Constrained questions (multiple choice and other 'objective' questions) give the student little or no freedom in how to respond - they are marked mostly for correctness;

UnConstrained questions (essays, projects, performances, etc) require the student to plan how to respond as well as what to say or do - they are marked mostly for quality;

SemiConstrained question are intermediate, and are the type most used in British exams - students must work out what the correct answer is and how to express it.

The nature of the mark scheme needs to be different for each type, for there are different challenges ensuring validity in each, but in each case the pattern we follow is this:

Further information

For more information, download these papers from Our Publications:

Title Authors Date Publication
Improving the quality of GCSE Assessment Alastair Pollitt, Ayesha Ahmed, Jo-Anne Baird, Jim Tognolini and Michelle Davidson 2007 QCA Invitational Conference, London

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