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How the QCAA develops and marks exams

Each year, tens of thousands of Year 12 students sit external exams in QCAA subjects. This video explains how the exams are developed and marked.

Each year, tens of thousands of Year 12 students sit external exams in QCAA subjects. Exams are written for about 70 subjects by teams that include Queensland teachers, academics and QCAA staff.

We start with an assessment proposal for each subject which we check against the syllabus. Writing teams develop the exam questions and marking guides and draft the exam papers. Next, subject matter experts sit the exams and provide feedback to ensure the exams are of a high standard and allow students to show what they’ve learnt and to produce their best work. Then we edit the exams, including illustrations and graphics.

We also create alternative format papers so as many students as possible can access the exams. These include braille papers and papers with large font sizes and electronic papers for students who need to respond on-screen.

It takes several rounds of checking and editing before the exam papers are ready to print and send to schools by secure transport. During the exam period, completed papers are collected daily and scanned for marking.

Over 3,000 Queensland teachers mark students’ responses online. It takes them about a month to mark all subjects.

We make sure marking is accurate and reliable through comprehensive training for markers and quality assurance processes during the marking operation. Markers are trained using real student responses. They generally specialise in certain questions or criteria being assessed.

Marking teams are led by specially trained lead markers who provide support and guidance to colleagues. Each marker’s performance is monitored by checking the marks they have awarded and their consistency in applying the marking guide. Finally, we combine all this information with feedback from lead and chief markers and data on student performance, to inform the development of future exams.

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