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How on earth do I mark a practice English essay (part of an 11+ indie entry test)?

(17 Posts)
maree1 Sat 15-Dec-12 16:30:22

Look at some newspaper articles to get an idea of which parts of speech are used to good effect by the professionals. Google Creative Writing Magic Money Cards which help score the value of writing tasks. The BBC ‘500 words’ site also shows examples of good essays. Keep practising.

OhDearConfused Thu 13-Dec-12 11:44:49

Yes, likewise, got a little look when I told HT that a "confidential report" will be required as part of admissions. Here's hoping HT does a "sell" (as I imagine a prep head would do).

changejustforyou Wed 12-Dec-12 21:11:55

Just thinking, I seem to remember from parents' evening the children have a workbook for writing and after each/several essays there is a tick list of what they have achieved and what they haven't. Maybe we could check what dc need to pay more attention to? (school normally don't send children to private schools so not keen to ask myself...).

OhDearConfused Wed 12-Dec-12 13:21:16

DS is ok at maths and VR (and English comp and grammar) so just concentrating on essays... each to their own..

good luck!

changejustforyou Wed 12-Dec-12 10:41:34

Hm, in similar situation. I'm just hoping her writing skills are good enough (well, I now they are quite good wink ) and just let her practise maths and VR. Easy to mark...For what it's worth, ds got in with the knowledge he got from our state primary, so they much be teaching them something..It's the verbal reasoning we are concentrating on, as that's obviously something they are not familiar with.

OhDearConfused Tue 11-Dec-12 14:43:03

Thank you all.

racingHeart great examples. Useful. Thanks

AtiaoftheJulii did you mean "emaths" which seems to be only maths? Or something else.

Thanks Breadandbutter - I don't have years. Only a number of weeks! smile

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 12:59:34

Yes, marking English papers is an art, not a science, and one that takes many years to develop fully.

Is the writing engaging? Do you want to read on? Is it written in a unique 'voice? Or just a rehash of tired cliches. etc etc

AtiaoftheJulii Sat 08-Dec-12 19:44:25

If you look on emaths you can find Sats papers, including marking schemes, which might help.

racingheart Sat 08-Dec-12 19:16:37

I agree that Galore Park material is a really good grounding.

You can get an idea of how well he's doing. If his descriptions are generalised: 'we had a nice Christmas dinner', 'granny smelled lovely' then he will get lower marks than if they are specific:
e.g. 'The plump, juicy turkey was cooked to perfection,' 'granny's cheeks were cold from the snow and her scarf smelled of rose perfume'.

The same is true of paragraphs which don't expand and develop ideas.

Suppose his essay was: How would you spend £1000 if you had to give it away?

'If I had a thousand pounds to give away I would give it to people who need it and hospitals and poor people, so they can all have nice things and get well.'

That single sentence has squeezed the author into a corner. They've said every thing they want to say. How to fill the rest of the page? What they haven't done is show their workings and how they arrived at their ideas.

Judge it against this, still childlike essay but which is fuller in its interpretation of the essay title.

'If I had a thousand pounds to give away at first I might feel sad. I'd quite like to spend it for myself! But then I'd take a look around and see how I could use it to make the world a better place.

First I'd go to the hospital. I'd visit the children who are all alone on Christmas day and bring them toys and sweets. maybe I could buy some cakes for the nurses that work so hard. Then...'

and so on. That opening out of ideas allows the essay to run on and on. It is more engaging. It is more specific and vivid.

florenceuk Fri 07-Dec-12 16:36:41

whoops this is the link here

florenceuk Fri 07-Dec-12 16:35:57

I wonder if this might help:

[[ 11+ practice answers]

There is a 11+ exercise book and this is the matching answer book - I haven't looked at these but you might find it helpful as a guide.

OhDearConfused Fri 07-Dec-12 16:16:33


Themumsnotroastingonanopenfire Fri 07-Dec-12 15:31:00

There is no way anyone on here can tell you that unless they happen to have the marking criteria for that particular exam and even if they had they couldn't give it to you. Marking papers is not a 'black art' it is done on very precise criteria that are specific to the exam in question. Also, the people who mark the papers are trained and moderated for the purpose. That is further underpinned by their training in teaching that particular subject; in this case English. So no one on here can tell you exactly how to mark the paper.
Using Racingheart's excellent checklist, you should be able to get an idea of the general standard of his essay writing and that should be enough. Being able to develop an argument is the key skill he should be focusing on as Racingheart points out.

OhDearConfused Fri 07-Dec-12 13:20:54

Thanks, RacingHeart, but any idea how they actually mark the papers. Is it all subjective - I think this is worth 6/10 for use of similes, etc.

I suspect its hard to quantity and I imagine there is (apart from spelling/grammar errors) just a black art aspect, but I am finding it impossible to judge how good his stories are for these purposes ....


racingheart Fri 07-Dec-12 10:26:20

OK, here's a starting point checklist:
1.) Syntax. Points awarded for variety of sentence length and variety of sentence construction. (Get him to use different opening clauses.)
2.) Punctuation - level of sophistication. Is he demonstrating correct use of commas, semi colons, colons, speech or quotation marks.
3.) Does he understand what paragraphing is for? Has he used it correctly?
4.) Is he showing a range of appropriate vocabulary? He needs to demonstrate a lively mind by using sophisticated vocabulary in correct and appropriate context.
5.) Can he expand on and develop his ideas in an orderly fashion? This one is crucial. It shows facility in independent thought. So, for example, if the essay title were: 'What would you do if you were made prime minister?', he would need to list not just what he'd do but how and why, and what effect he thinks his changes would have on himself and others. Open out each idea.
6.) Can he, where required, use simile, metaphor, adjectives and adverbs to bring a piece of descriptive writing to life, vividly.

OhDearConfused Fri 07-Dec-12 10:06:38

Plus I suppose there should be some element of the mark for a subjective "is it good/creative/interesting to read"...

OhDearConfused Fri 07-Dec-12 10:00:06

DC sitting for an indie test in January (last minute decision). Maths (he will excel at, I think), Engish, and VR.

English is fine in terms of grammar and comprehension and vocab - and they are easy to check/mark.

However, how do you judge whether the essay part (which features in the test) is good enough? [DS very literal and will try and keep things as short as possible. ]

I know it depends on the school etc., and I know there is supposed to be a "beginning, middle and end". But if for example there is a 30 minute writing component (as one of the papers he is sitting does have), which is worth 50% of the marks, given that there is no right/wrong answer (leaving out spelling errors), how are they divided up? Is it as crude as you get a mark for each sentence you write, you lose a mark for each spelling / grammatical mistake, you gain a mark for each adjective, and so on? smile

Just so I can put him on the right track. (State primary so not really helping prep for the tests....)

Any guidance out there or that MNers can give?


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