When an examination paper is marked by an examiner marks are awarded to the answers in accordance with the agreed mark scheme following an examiner’s meeting. Each paper will have a maximum number of marks than can be awarded to it which can be loosely translated as ‘ticks’. These ticks represent the raw marks for that paper. Examination awards that are made up of a number of papers may have different raw marks attributed to each paper.
Some of the papers that make up an award may have a higher composite value than others (e.g. a coursework component may only have half the value of a written paper). To accommodate these differences the raw mark is ‘scaled’ up or down so that each paper’s ‘scale’ marks reflect the different value of each component (e.g. the coursework raw marks may be halved or the written component doubled).
UMS (Unified Marking Scheme)
Many modular examinations allow for students to take examinations at different times. This results in the likelihood that some students could take an examination in the same module during different examination sessions with each of these examinations being of different difficulty. To overcome the problems presented by these differences and those of scaling the UMS system has been introduced at GCSE and GCE levels. Once a raw mark has been converted to a UMS mark it can be added to any other module mark to find the total marks gained in an award or its grade equivalent.
Modular awards are made of two or more component modules, each with is own UMS.
All examination boards have agreed that UMS marks will be allocated grades as in the table below, the system will work for individual modules and for awards which may be comprised of several modules. It is important that if a student wishes to calculate their performance in an examination and attempt to predict outcomes they use the UMS marks and not work with grades.
||% of UMS
||UMS for 120 mark module
||UMS for 300 mark award|
A & AS level modules are only allocated grades up to a maximum of an A grade. However, the AS or A level award includes the A* grade, this could result in a student achieving 3 A grades in their AS modules but gain an overall A* grade in the AS award.
A grade boundary is the minimum mark required to gain that grade (e.g. 84UMS marks are required to gain a B grade in a module worth a total of 120 UMS marks). Once the conversion and scaling of a module has been done it is possible to directly relate a raw mark to a grade equivalent. It is this system that your teachers will most probably use to allocate grades to past papers such as mocks.
Further information on this can be found here.