OU assessment marks vs other universities(14 Posts)
Hi, does anyone have any experience of the OU marking scheme? I'm trying to support a friend who is currently studying (after a long break from education) through the OU but the marking scheme seems very different to anything I have experienced at undergrad and postgrad levels
He recently received a 65 mark for a history based essay and according to him that is seen as a bad mark by the OU.
40 is a pass so he's 25 over the threshold. Tell him he's doing great! Way over a pass! OU takes a lot of self motivation and commitment
Marks tend to creep up when you get the hang of what you're tutor is looking for. If he follows the feedback he'll soon get higher marks
If you're used to standard 1st, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd, you can translate that directly to the OU grades. It's just the marks to achieve each that are different. But a 'mid 2:1' piece of work looks exactly the same as a 'mid grade 2' one.
I have a lot of respect for the OU, my DH is also doing an OU degree and I'm really impressed by the course material. I also know how much commitment is needed to stay motivated with distance learning and other commitments
I was confused why friend and DH seem to think a 65 is a bad mark and they need to aim for something in the 80s. I was told (a few years ago mind) that it was incredibly hard, if not nigh on impossible, for a humanities/arts degree student to get a mark in the high 70s let alone well into the 80s
Thank you for the links, I'll have a read and try and boost my friend
I've marked at the OU. The standards for a 2:1 are exactly the same as at any other university. It's just the number that is different. The OU materials tend to extremely clear about what is required at each point in the marking scheme, so he will be able to find information and guidance within his course materials (and also from his tutor).
A 65 is in the 2:2 range, which isn't a 'bad mark'. It might not be what he's hoping for but OU tutors tend to give detailed feedback that will help him to improve his next marks.
Incidentally, universities tend to be much keener on 'using the full range of marks' these days, so marks in the high 70s and 80s aren't as unusual as they were when you were at university.
But at the OU an 85 is entirely equivalent to a 70 in most university mark schemes.
As everyone says, the OU uses the wider range of marks, and so marks in the 80's or even higher are normal and denote a first.
I think it's confusing, especially if you get transcripts from them- as the 65% really denotes a 2:2, whereas in my mind it's a mid 2:1 grade.
No idea why they up everything by 10 marks or more.
I also think the grades are sometimes quite generous anyway. I have a current student who got a first from the OU but is struggling to get a merit on her Masters which I would have thought quite easy from that ability level. That is a n=1 sample though, and don't have wide experience beyond a couple of students.
I did a Master's with them, and it was 85% for a distinction. I generally got low to mid 70s, which was what I got in my first degree and a subsequent Master's elsewhere so as far as I can see they aren't marking higher.
Quite a lot of universities no longer use percentages. We mark out of 23. So a 10 is the equivalent of 40% in old money.
They don't just add 10+ marks. The scheme is just different. It has wider mark intervals for each grade, rather than mostly 9 marks for most of them and then 30 for a first (but where most of that isn't used).
The university where I did my UG study was moving to an out of 23 mark scheme when I left. It never gave me numerical grades on anything though. We got letter grades with pluses and minuses.
It says 85+ is a distinction so it's not possible for everyone to get something in the 80s.
It depends on the student but i've always aimed to try to get the second top band (2.1 at undergrad) and then hoped for an occasional distinction to balance the occasional miss. So yes, he would be well to raise his grade to a 70 at least if he can.
Be aware that there's discretion used in the calculation of final marks. I thought due to my TMA marks it was mathematically impossible for me to get a distinction in my level 2 OU course when i went into the exam but with a very very good exam mark and very very good project mark they gave me a distinction anyway.
Yes, the other thing the OU does, which I think other unis did traditionally but my red brick in the 90s did not do, is apply a moving threshold when calculating final course marks. So, the top 15% of students get firsts.
It's a way of levelling things out between years - working from the idea that large cohorts of students are of similar ability from year to year, whereas exam questions can be harder or easier.
I benefited from this a couple of times, having high 2:1 marks in both coursework and exam was enough to gain a first.
The OU is very big on consistency between course and exam work. Final marks are not an average. So a 2:2 in one, first in the other, will give you 2:2 not the 'average' 2:1. I suspect this is a distance learning safeguard, mitigating against the possibility of cheating by getting help in one thing or the other.
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