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Mark Scheme: How your answers are evaluated by CIE!

When it comes to educational materials people often mention syllabus and past papers. However, often missed but much more useful resources are the mark schemes and the examiner's report.

A mark scheme is a very useful resource for students. It contains how your answers are evaluated and checked, how is marks allocated for your contents and your usage of English and also the potential answers to the questions asked in a given exam. In this article, however, I will focus only on "How your answers are evaluated by CIE".

In GP essays, marks are allocated on the basis of two criteria: use of English and content. These criteria are briefly explained below with excerpts taken from an original mark scheme of GP:

Use of English

I have taken the following excerpt from a Mark Scheme of October/November session. It shows the specifications or the requirements you need to fulfill to score the marks of "Band 1" category, i.e., 18-20 marks. There are four more bands below it and the marks obtained and the quality of writing goes on decreasing proportionally from Band1 through Band 5. Band 5 score is the poorest and in my opinion, the students scoring around this band are not graded (means grade "U"). But that's my opinion only and this shouldn't be a much a matter of concern for you. You should rather be concerned about how you can score marks of Band 1.

And since this is only the part of a Mark Scheme and since Mark Schemes have other advantages too, I strongly recommend you to download them from a CIE website or get them from your school and view them in detail.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="624" caption="Use of English - Mark Scheme"]A part of Mark Scheme showing you how your essays are graded on the basis of use of English.[/caption]


"Band" of marks, and the process of evaluating your answers is similar to that of the Use of English above. However, content carries 30 marks, i.e., 60% marks of your whole essay as compared to the 40%  (20) marks carried by the Use of English. The excerpt below is the content counterpart (or equivalent) of the excerpt shown above.

Here, too I recommend you to download a full mark scheme and see the specifications of other bands as well.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="626" caption="Content - Mark Scheme"]A part of Mark Scheme showing you how your essays are graded on the basis of content.[/caption]

One question that can arise in your mind is that: This mark scheme is of Oct/Nov 2010 only and will it still be relevant in other examination sessions too?

Yes. First, this mark scheme holds the basic principles of writing (so it is not only about writing GP essays but also about any other form of writing) and therefore, the writing skills used in General Paper can be helpful in any sort of writing tasks that you may come across in your life. Second, the marking criteria are similar in the mark schemes of other examination sessions too and a drastic change in them in the near future is quite unlikely. Furthermore, if they are going to change it then probably you'll get a modified syllabus and the related information about it beforehand.

Update: The instructions on how and where to download mark schemes and other materials are given at the External Resources page.


  1. [...] my last post I wrote about how your answer-sheets are evaluated by CIE. Now, in this post I will be writing about how mark schemes can be useful for your [...]

  2. Could you help me find the MARK SCHEME for HSC A & AS level General Paper 2 (NOT PAPER ONE PLEASE) for October/November 2010.


  3. Hello Taslim, please visit the link below if your syllabus code is 8009, which is specific to Mauritius.

    If you are appearing for International version and your syllabus code is 8001 then please visit the link below:

    For more information about how to recognize files and to learn about other sources of materials please visit this page in my website:

    I hope you'll be helped by this.

  4. [...] my last post I wrote about how your answer-sheets are evaluated by CIE. Now, in this post I will be writing about how mark schemes can be useful for your [...]


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