Challenges for International Students: Marks

In a series: The International Student Experience
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Will Hutton interviews international students on the challenge of adjusting to different marks and mark schemes.

Transcript of ‘Challenges for International Students: Marks’:

Invariably for most of our students, the marking scheme used at Queen Mary can be a surprise. They expect to score, um, they may have come from schools where most of the time they scored in the 80s and 90s, they did well at school or perhaps those marks were easier to obtain or there’s a different approach to awarding marks, and they find it very disheartening, surprising, confusing when they come to Queen Mary and they start getting marks that are in the 40s, 50s and 60s. And the idea that getting something in the 60s is very good comes as a surprise to them, and that getting something in the 50s is decent is a surprise, they often are very unsure initially about how the marking scheme works here.

Well, I think it’s better if students get themselves familiarised with the IFP grading system before they come here, because especially where I come from it’s expected that you get over 80% but over here a 60% mark on many subjects is considered really good and I think it would be better if people got used to that.

[What happens when people get their first marks?]

I think people are initially very disappointed, because getting a 50 or lower than 50 is horrible, because we see 50 as the half mark average. But I think that it’s not really difficult if you just plan everything and stay on top of your game, to get a 60 consistently.

Academically, the grades was probably the worst of them all, it was kind of shocking to see your grade of 55 or 56 whereas in Bermuda I’m used to maybe a 95 or a 100 on a test, it’s totally different, you think that your work is substandard and that you’re not producing effectively, but on these terms it’s an improved grade and can progress to something better.

Getting used to the change in mark system is really important. But I’d also say in the beginning you can be really disappointed about your marks, but I also think not analysing it from the mark scheme, like take for example, a bottle of Coke in the US is one dollar, if you come to the UK it’s one pound. It doesn’t reduce the value of the bottle of Coke, it’s just the price shifted on it, so I think if you look at it from that perspective you know that the grades, like, don’t reduce the quality of the work, you just have to understand that it’s just under a different mark system, and then you get to feel better about yourself.