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5:47pm on Thursday, 24th May, 2012:

Red Pen


I'm marking the CE317 exam that was taken yesterday. I've just run my red pen out of ink so took that as an omen to mean "stop for a while".

So far, I've marked 25 scripts from a total of 41. I thought there were 44 students supposed to be taking the exam, so gawd knows what happened to the others (there are supposed to be absence sheets present when students don't show up).

Marking exams is always depressing. I knew there would be some low marks, on account of how I went to get a coffee 75% of the way through it and saw one of the people meant to be taking it sitting outside in the sun texting someone. However, as I started marking I began to get that sense of concern that the paper might have been too hard, as even the highest marks were miserable; the average was looking to be about 45%. Fortunately, the bimodal results I seen so often in exams these days kicked in, and a second hump appeared up around the 70% mark. It's not that the paper is hard, then, it's that the students preferred to revise something else. I guess another possibility is that they were suffering from a brief bout of lethargy resulting in a loss of cognitive abilities (which one of them rather sweetly apologised for in an explanation on the first page as to why they hadn't done well).

So far, only one student has lost a mark for having spelled the word lose wrongly despite my instructing them at gunpoint not to spell it loose.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).