4 Time-Saving Marking Strategies for PGCE students and NQTs

An article by Richard James Rogers: High School Teacher and author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know.

Illustrated by Kim Pisessith and Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati 

Let’s face it: Marking piles of student work each week can be an onerous task, even for seasoned educators.  From tests and assessments to coursework, homework and classwork: the paper-mountain never seems to stop growing!

Thankfully, there is hope for every eager red (or should it be green?) ink consumer.

What follows next are my top four strategies for making marking quick, fun and time-effective.

#1: Live marking saves you time and builds rapport

Do you know what ‘live-marking’ is? It’s really simple: The teacher (you) walks around the classroom with a pen in hand and marks the students’ work as they are doing a task. The benefits of this simple technique are numerous, and include:

  • Quick identification of misconceptions
  • Opportunities to speak face-to-face with each student, which strengthens your professional relationship with them
  • Time saved, as you don’t have to take home the work you’ve already ‘live-marked’
2 stars and a wish
Walk around the classroom and meet each student. Mark their work as you walk around, and make sure you provide guidance and praise at the same time. Image by Khim Pisessith (should_you_wonder@hotmail.com)


#2: Google forms are a great peer assessment tool

If you haven’t used Google forms for assessment before, then you’re missing out one of the most powerful and modern tools in the teaching profession.

You’ll need to learn how to set them up (see the pictures below, and this guide is worth a peek too), but as soon as you’ve used this tool you’ll find that it’s a doddle to work with. Now you have every reason to regain that Saturday morning snooze you’ve been sacrificing!

Your Google form should be set up similar to this:

Using Google forms in education-page-0

Using Google forms in education-page-1

Using Google forms in education-page-2

#3: Mark scheme your way to happiness 

Probably the dumbest thing I used to do as an N.Q.T. was to give students questions to complete for homework, without having good, published model answers from which to mark the questions with!

Teachers all over the world are wasting time writing their own mark schemes. A little more time spent considering the kinds of questions you set can save you tons of time! You can also get the students to use these model answers in a peer-assessment exercise, such as a Google forms activity.

#4: Verbal Feedback is effective and saves you ink!

Professor John Hattie describes feedback as “one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement”.

One of the best ways that me and you can give good feedback is to just simply sit down and talk with our students, face-to-face. Once this is done, you can simply write “Verbal feedback given” on the piece of work, and then get the student to make corrections in a different colour. This saves time and forces the student to process the feedback given.

Make sure you always check up on the corrections. 

Providing verbal feedback saves marking time and forces the students to process the comments you give them.


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High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK). Richard is the award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know

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