Mock Exam Marking: Happy days with red pen

Marking mock exams on the D/C borderline for GCSE English is a heart in mouth job. I approach it with a daren’t look attitude, peeping at the page between hands and fingers covering my eyes with angst. 

So far I’m about a third of the way down the pile. It’s already been a roller coaster ride of enlightenment, elation, disappointment and frustration. And that’s just for me; goodness knows what goes on for the students. I think most seem oblivious. 
At the end of the mock exam sessions this week two students in separate classes were indignant about how boring it was to spend two and a quarter hours doing that. One of my colleagues gave one such student a bit of a dressing down for that and just told him if he was bored then he obviously wasn’t working hard enough. The rest of the class laughed. The said boy was suitably put in his place. 
Some palm face smacking exam paper foolishness I’ve seen while marking so far this week includes a range of the following: not using full stops and capital letters, classic homophone misspelling, missing apostrophes, apostrophes used to form a plural, no quotes being used to back up points made from the text, responses made being far too short, presentational features being mixed up with language features, no language features being identified at all, no presentational features being identified at all, no plan being used at the beginning of written responses, no colons or semi colon use being attempted, basic common words never being reached beyond to grasp the nettle of more ambitious vocabulary, all but the rarest and most banal discourse markers being used, no writing to describe techniques being used and thereby just presenting factual, lifeless accounts, no persuasive techniques being used and therefore submitting a flat list of tips without any attempt to get a reader on board with the mission… I could go on. 
However, one or two students have pulled it out of the bag. They put in maximum effort and it paid off. In particular this applied to one student who is trying his hardest after being off sick for most of the year, who had to do all his controlled assessments in a rush just before Easter, who didn’t do very well in those, but who doesn’t want to repeat English next year if he can possibly help it. So he’s putting amazing effort into the exam now, and he might have a chance. Nearly all his responses were model answers. He just needs to develop his comments a bit more and I think he will ace it. Here’s hoping he pays attention to feedback. 
Then there’s the handful across the week who just didn’t turn up. And the student whose paper I opened and he had only answered the first two easy questions and gave a partial response to question 6 in a very half hearted style. Deep sigh. Horse. Water. Drink. 
At least I’ve got lots of feedback for everyone already even if I don’t quite get all there papers marked. Such a stack of marking here it’s untrue. 
Have a good weekend folks. Back to my red pen… 

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