UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK Guidance on Moderation

Guidance on Moderation
These guidelines are not intended to stifle valuable and innovative methods of assessment, but to
give departments a means of choosing the most appropriate method of moderation.
Why moderate?
To ensure fairness, accuracy and consistency in marking and the provision of results which are an
accurate reflection of performance and can be relied upon by students and staff within the
institution, as well as by other individuals and external organisations (for example employers,
accrediting bodies).
What is moderation?
It is the process by which the University ensures:
the consistency of marking for particular assignments and exams within modules, and
consistency of assessment for all students taking a module; and
that marking within a module is appropriate and conforms to University-wide grade and
mark descriptors.
It is an integral element of the marking process, which takes place after initial marks have been
awarded to individual papers and serves the purpose of reviewing marking standards for the module
as whole. This is achieved by two processes:
second marking (of all scripts or more usually, a sample); and
review of the array of marks to enable consideration of the overall standard and to
permit comparison of the marking standards applied by different markers and for
different elements of assessment.
Normally a second marker is used to check the consistency of a first markers’ marking.
Where all papers are subject to second marking, this may properly lead to negotiated variations in
the marks for individual papers. Where second marking of a sample takes place, this may lead to
mark variations for categories of papers. For instance, it may be judged that marker A’s scripts
marked at 48 would be marked at 52 by fellow markers and that all papers in this category should
accordingly be raised. Where, exceptionally, moderation discloses that a particular marker is
inconsistent with other markers or internally inconsistent, it may be necessary to institute a general
re-mark of affected papers.
Re-marking and the feedback deadline
Where exceptionally extensive re-marking is required as a consequence of rigorous moderation, this
would be a matter for consideration in relation to a request to extend the relevant feedback
Which assessments require moderation?
Moderation is required for all assessments weighted at more than 3 CATS (see note in the table
below under “Single marking only”). This will include essays, assignments, dissertations and
examinations. Where an assessment requiring moderation involves presentations, practical work or
performance it should be observed by either one or two markers and should normally be recorded
to permit moderation and later scrutiny by the external examiner. Where marks are attributed to
contributions to a group exercise, the material on which this assessment is based must be retained
in a durable form (e.g. written reports, video recordings etc.) in order to permit moderation.
Which assessments are exempted from moderation?
Assessment weighted at 3 CATS or less in modules in which other elements of assessment
are moderated.
Observed Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) in the Warwick Medical School, which are
subject to audit by the General Medical Council, are exempted from moderation.
Previous agreements with departments about exemptions from moderation will cease from 2014/15
What methods of moderation can be used?
Single marking only
Double marking
Marked by 1st marker – no
second marker or moderation
 Electronic marking
 No formal moderation
 Single examiner to
sample to confirm correct
operation of programme.
1st marker marks and
comments/2nd marker marks
whole cohort with sight of
first markers mark and
comments. Mark is either
confirmed or amended after
discussion between markers
Assessment weighting 3
CATS or less. Noting
that in a module where
all pieces of assessment
are 3 CATS or less,
moderation should take
place for some of the
elements of
assessment, using an
appropriate moderation
This “3-CAT rule” is not
intended for situations
where all elements of
assessment in a module
are 3 CATS or less, and
where this would result
in the single marking of
all assessment for that
particular module.
Moderation of some
elements of assessment
should be undertaken in
these cases.
 Objective right/
wrong answers
 Marked by
 New or
 Suitable when
students are writing
dissertations, using
identical data sets
and supervised in
May result in
adjustments to marks for
individual papers.
Double marking (blind)
1st marker marks and
comments/2nd marker marks
blind (i.e. without access to
1st markers comments). Final
mark agreed after discussion
between markers. [Simple
averaging of marks is not
Standardisation and
Answer key marking
A two-stage process in which
marks are agreed for a
sample of papers to establish
standards prior to the main
marking exercise. A further
sample to be checked
against the standards at the
end of the exercise.
Following first marking, a
sample of papers from each
marker is read and marked
by a nominated moderator
(who may also be a first
marker in the case of team
marking) – see notes below
on sample size
Centralised moderation
Following first marking,
samples of scripts are
exchanged between markers
for second marking. See
notes below on sample size.
 Suitable for unique
pieces such as
dissertations where
there is no standard
or cohort against
which to compare.
 Usually required for
unique pieces
weighted at 24
CATS or more (but
double marking –
informed also
appropriate here).
Suitable where marking
is performed by a team.
May result in
adjustments to marks for
individual papers.
Suitable where marking
is performed by a team
or where a single
marker is responsible for
first marking.
May require
reconsideration and
adjustment of marks on
categorical basis (e.g.
papers marked by a
particular marker, or in a
particular mark band).
May trigger categorical
May require categorical
reconsideration and
adjustment of marks.
May trigger categorical
Suitable where marking
is performed by a team
May require
reconsideration and
adjustment of marks on
categorical basis (e.g.
papers marked by a
particular marker, or in a
particular mark band).
Additional Moderation Processes
Consideration of array of
Marking assistance
Moderator compares array
of marks for (i)
comparability with marking
in other modules: (ii)
comparability of marks
awarded by different
markers (iii) comparability
of marks for different
elements of the
Request for assistance
(e.g. double marking) from
moderator or fellow
A number of markers.
A number of different
elements of
assessment. Should
be used alongside
other forms of
May trigger categorical
reconsideration and
adjustment. May trigger
categorical re-marking.
A paper presenting
particular difficulties in
An extended process to
produce the first mark.
Sampling (an element in
Selection of papers for
moderation. A sample
should contain a random
selection of all grades
present. Sample size
should usually be at least
20% of total or a minimum
of 20 papers, whichever is
the lower (see notes). For
cohorts of 200 or above
this should be a minimum
of 30 papers.
Moderation of Fails
All fails should be
considered by a moderator
Moderation of marking for
new and/or inexperienced
Use of a more rigorous
moderation method than
might normally be required
– for example, a larger
sample used
See standardisation
and moderation,
centralised moderation
and cross moderation
methods above –
sampling will not be
appropriate for a new
or inexperienced first
Sample size should be
appropriate to allow
moderation of all
classifications, all
elements of the
assessment (where
candidates have a choice
of tasks) and the work of
all markers. Sample sizes
may need to be larger
than 20% or 20 papers to
encompass all factors in
large cohorts.
Confirmation or
adjustment of first mark
on the individual paper.
Where new members
of staff, PGR students
or other inexperienced
staff are involved with
marking, a more
rigorous moderation
method should be
selected in the first
What is the role of the External Examiner?
The QAA Code states that the role of the External Examiner is to look at the marking process and not
to look at individual marks. The External Examiner should be engaged after the internal moderation
process has been completed and should not be treated as a second (or third) marker.
The External Examiner should be presented with a complete set of marks and a sample set of
scripts/assignments after the completion of the internal moderation process. The External Examiner
should be provided with an explanation of the marking/moderation process and this process should
be visible to the External Examiner on the basis of the papers sent. The External Examiner’s role is to
audit/validate the marking and moderation process.
How is the decision made about the appropriate form of moderation?
As long as the conditions of use of the methods of moderation described in the table above have
been met, the module convenor should agree with the examiners which is the most appropriate
method of moderation to be used. For example, an undergraduate dissertation could use double
marking (informed) or double marking (blind), but is highly unlikely to meet the conditions for
standardisation or sampling.
What is scaling and when is it acceptable?
This may take place where a review of the array of marks indicates that marks as a whole are
inappropriately high or low. This technique may be used in relation to assessment marked according
to objective criteria which do not allow for the exercise of discretion. Scaling may take place at the
request of a moderator, external examiner or exam board. Where scaling takes place this must
always be communicated to the external examiner and examination board.
What is normalisation and when is it acceptable?
Normalisation is a statistical method used to adjust the range of marks so that marks fall within a
normal distribution curve. Any ‘standard’ use of normalisation is not acceptable. Any department
seeking to use normalisation (even if it has been standard practice in the past) must gain approval
from BUGS and/or BGS for any normalisation exercise from 2014/15 onwards. If its use is approved,
all members of marking teams, external examiners and exam boards must be informed of the
method being used. The method used must also be communicated clearly to staff and students.
How does moderation work with the 17 point marking scale?
Adjustment of marks in the process of moderation should be within the 17 point marking scale if this
scale is being used. The adjustment of marks for a category of assessments should only be used
where marker and moderator are satisfied that the mark outcomes will be appropriate for all
candidates. If the issue identified by the moderator is that a particular mark (say 48) spans a range
of quality and that better papers in this range should be upgraded, then it would be necessary to reconsider all papers within this category on an individual basis. Aggregate marks for modules may fall
outside the 17 point mark scale and in the process of moderation it is permissible to amend the
aggregate mark for a module.
What is the relationship between moderation and feedback?
When feedback is given before an exam board, it should be clearly communicated to students that
the marks they are receiving are not final. Some departments address this issue by giving feedback
before the exam board, but not actual marks. As a general principle, definitive feedback is only
possible after the moderation process has taken place, but the timing of an exam board should not
delay students receiving feedback in adherence within the University’s turnaround time policy.
Moderation of Assessments undertaken as part of Placement Learning or a Year Abroad
In designing placement learning assessments, departments are asked to consider the way in which
moderation will take place. Please see further guidance:
It is recommended that management information tools be developed, and other support as
appropriate to allow moderators to fulfil their role of reviewing the array of marks in a modules.
Such a tool might provide key statistical data such as maximum and minimum marks, and standard
deviation and would permit comparisons between different markers and between different
elements of assessment. SITS currently allows for a quick analysis of uploaded marks and further
support and training for staff in relation to this function might be provided to departments.
How to communicate this?
At departmental level, moderation methods in use should be communicated to staff and students in
module and/or course handbooks, and in departmental assessment strategy documents. Scaling
methods should be clearly described.