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Before you write

2 - How do teachers mark Reports & Essays?

Use this as you write your essay.

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The Assignment requirements

You are given the requirements of the assignment. This may be a few sentences or it may be several pages long. Obviously you need to go through and work out what to write about from the requirements.

However, the extra dimension you need to consider is; What other information is there that fully explains what is required? A very important thing to also check is the Marking Guide. You also need to check if the assignment question really does match the way the essay will be marked? To answer this you need to check if the requirements given really match the marking guide.

The Marking Guide

When marking your essay your teacher generally has a “Marking Guide” that they must use.

The marking guide ensures that the teacher is properly checking that the essay is covering the questions and sub-questions properly and that it is using the required parts of theory that have been taught in lectures.

The marking guide helps ensure that the teacher is marking each student’s essay the same way.

In subjects with lots of students there will be several teachers marking the essay. They use the marking guide to also help ensure that they are all considering the same things when they mark. This is to try and make the marking as equal as possible across each teacher.

There may also be a moderation system. This is where the subject coordinator goes through a system to compare the marks given by the different teachers for the different requirements of the essay. This may lead to a possible modification of marks that are very different to the norm.

The marking guide may be anything from a simple allocation of marks given to each question through to a very detailed marking matrix.


As an example, here is a marking matrix that may apply to an assignment on the health of cats:

The marking guide is basically a checklist. It often also shows how many marks are allocated against each of the ‘sub-questions’ (See the technique on ‘Dissecting the Question’).

The teacher will look at each requirement in the checklist and then read your assignment to see if that question or sub-question has been answered properly. They will then give you the marks they feel you deserve for that part.

Often the marking guide will be available to students to help you understand the requirements of the essay.

I strongly recommend that you find out:

a. Is there a marking guide for the assignment?

b. Are students allowed access to it while doing their assignment?

If you can have a copy of it then get it and keep it at your elbow as you do the assignment. It is crucial.

If you are not allowed to have access to it then I recommend you ask your teacher for as much information as possible about the weighting ( See the technique on the ‘Weighting’ of the marks across the different aspects of the assignment. This is simply clarifying your customer’s needs.



This was 'before you write' technique no.