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Effective, time reducing marking strategies

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Marking is a necessary and unavoidable task in the life of any teacher, but more so for an English teacher. There is an awful lot of guilt attached to this task and teachers often worry that they’re not doing it enough or worry when they’re going to fit it all in.

It’s not only not necessary to mark every single page in an exercise book, it’s also very unrealistic. With that in mind, I have several top tips that will hopefully reduce the time you spend marking.


1. Tick and flick is outdated and no one responds well to it, so if you’re not going to leave a comment then don’t spend time leaving green or red ticks on each page.

2. Stamps are extremely useful! You can easily walk around a classroom and give verbal feedback then give a quick stamp of ‘verbal feedback given’.

3. I often use checklists that have a pupil and peer column, that way you can utilise AFL in lieu of you marking each piece of work.


4. Decide which pieces you will mark. I do in depth marking for assessments as they usually produce grades or levels that are used for feeding back to parents.

5. Create a skills sheet or success criteria for tasks and then you can stick this in to a pupil’s book and merely highlight the different skills: pink for ‘not yet’ and green for ‘yes you’ve done this’. I have lots of generic sheets that cover: poetry, drama, novel, narrative writing, descriptive writing etc. Once they’re made it’s just a matter of photocopying them – or if you’re tech savvy you can print them directly onto stickers for ease of use!

6. Mark with highlighters – similar to number 5. However, you highlight the work itself and then pupils must work out what they did well and what they must improve on. Not only is this much quicker for you, but it forces them to really think about their WWW and EBI (What Went Well / Even Better If).

7. Create a marking code – I have mine on the wall in several different places. This way you can just write down symbols as you mark. E.g sp = spelling error.


8. I also often create cover sheets that include both the success criteria and the mark scheme I am using. I then give pupils 10 minutes at the end of each assessment or extended piece of writing where they really engage with the mark scheme and then give themselves a mark. They can then also work out their own WWW and EBI. All I then do is agree or disagree with their evaluations.

9. If you do sit down to comment mark longer pieces, you may find common errors across each example. In this instance I then address this in class for all pupils. I usually go over the class target and we discuss how to improve upon it, pupils then write ‘Class target = embedding quotes’ in their books. This also provides an opportunity for re-drafting based on the group target.

Please check out my freebies page for some of these resources.

Teacher highlighted skills checklist

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