Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Automated Open or Free Text Answer Marking

Our automated free or open-text marking website is an innovative tool for teachers and students aimed at enhancing the learning process. It gives students essential practice in matching their answers to examination question mark schemes and provides instant, content-specific feedback on their writing to help them revise and really learn the material.

The need to match answers to mark schemes is a current issue in UK schools. The examination answers of some students, particularly at GCSE level, may be outstanding and show understanding of a topic that goes far beyond the requirements of the course. These may be well crafted and include complex analysis. But there is evidence that many of these responses go uncredited if they do not fit the exacting standard of the mark scheme. Some students get marks limited because they have not included a particular phrase or diagram, even though their overall work was of a high standard. Other students do better by giving more basic, formulaic answers that match the mark scheme thereby picking up marks.

On our website, students type their answers online in response to questions and mark schemes set up by teachers. Tests are easy to set up and answers are automatically graded, diagnostic feedback given and certificates generated for saving or printing. Marks are awarded for phrases, words or structures that match the key ideas of the mark scheme. An editable synonym database allows for alternative student wording of key ideas, and marking in context is achieved through algorithms based on key word spacing and position.

The synonym database ensures that marking of a student answer goes well beyond keyword recognition. Editing of the database can model the many ways students may express a concept. Key word spacing helps make sure that students are correctly explaining the relationships between concepts.

Student feedback should help teachers to revise their mark schemes and synonym database, leading to ever-increasing accuracy of the automated marking process.

There are a wide range of test management options available including adding images and notes to support questions and the requirement to make reference to the question key words in an answer. Spelling, grammar and punctuation can also be marked and graded.

The site has unlimited free access for students and all teachers have free advanced accounts for the first year.

Benefits for students

  • Writing engages students with content and refines their thinking skills.
  • Frequent feedback guides students towards better learning outcomes.
  • Students have the opportunity to revise and improve their performance.
  • Encourages more frequent writing practice.
  • Easy to use and available 24/7.

Benefits for teachers

  • Reduces marking time.
  • Easily monitor student learning by tracking individual and classwide performance.
  • Maintain complete control over final grades.
  • Web-based service. No software to install.

See how to set up an automated open text marking test or try an open text automated marking test.