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Online marking – Essay & SAQ questions

Whilst electronic marking of online MCQs is commonplace, it’s more difficult for short answer question (SAQ) or essay-style exams. It’s no secret that for these exams, marking is one of the most laborious and time-consuming tasks.

Historically, these exam papers were marked manually by the examiner or examiners, before being checked and moderated. Marks are manually totalled before a final grade is awarded. Individual and personalised feedback for students was hard – and an additional manual process.

However, with the eSystem, online marking of these exams could bring improvements to your processes. Read on to find out more.

 Intuitive online marking

With the eSystem, you can create, deliver and mark short answer and essay question exams online. This not only saves time but also improves the efficiency of the process.  There’s support for multiple markers and an intuitive format which clearly shows everything needed.

There are two views; ‘Mark’ or ‘Question’. With both views, across the top of the screen, the exam details are displayed, together with the number of questions to mark, the number of candidates and the percentage of questions marked.

Under the ‘Mark’ view, the examiner will see the candidate’s answer, a box with the maximum score, together with the annotation tools available for use. Examiners can easily enter the candidate’s score as appropriate, before moving on.

Under the ‘Question’ view the examiner will be able to check the question text, alongside with the model answer.

There are also navigation options so examiners have the flexibility to mark in a way that best suits them. With control over candidates and questions, they can choose to either mark by question or by candidate. They can also choose to move through the exam using the next/previous buttons.

Easily mark up text and add comments

The annotation tools allow examiners to give candidates feedback and add justification for how they arrived at their scores. There are several colour buttons to differentiate between markers and three annotation tools to aid the marking process. The pin button allows a specific point in the text to be pinpointed, the highlight tool allows areas of text to be highlighted and text can be crossed out with the strikethrough tool, any associated comments will appear in the annotations box. General comments can be added too.

One clear benefit of online marking is the option to share examiner feedback with candidates via an online candidate feedback report.

Stay in control

With online marking, you gain a greater level of control, for instance, by making use of the user permissions and workflow options. The ‘exam marker’ group means that these users only have permission to mark exams and nothing else. Granular control means that it’s possible to allocate markers to specific questions in an exam, rather than the whole exam. The ‘mark’ status in the workflow makes it easy to see when an exam is available to be marked or moderated. Plus, examiners receive e-mail notifications when an exam is ready to be marked.

Simplified moderation

Exams marked online can be moderated with ease. Moderators can check many things including the number of questions and candidates, percentage marked by question and exam, scores given, annotations and comments plus more.

Similar to the marking screen, the moderator can see candidate answers, question text and the model answer as well as the mark given to each candidate by each marker. In the case of multiple markers, an average score is given. If the average falls outside of a predefined range, it will be highlighted.

Moderators are authorised to make changes such as overriding scores, adding text to justify and adding annotations or general feedback.

Marking online leads to enhanced candidate feedback

At each stage of the online marking and moderation process, there is the option to share with the candidate. If this option is selected the annotations and comments will be available to candidates in their own detailed personalised feedback report. Available at the click of a button.

A marked improvement

Using the eSystem to mark your short answer and essay questions online will save time in marking, simplify the moderation process and make it quick and easy to provide candidates with detailed and personalised feedback at the touch of a button. A marked improvement on manual marking.

Get in touch

To find out more about online marking or the eSystem contact us. Call our sales team on +44 (0) 1223 851703 or email