Tuesday, December 05, 2006

HSC Marking

Last month I was involved in marking the Latin HSC exams, something I hadn’t done before. It was a pretty tiring experience, but very valuable. Here are five things I learnt from HSC marking:

  • markers will do their very best to give students as many marks as they possibly can. You can get things wrong, and still get full marks, even in questions that seem to have a definite answer (such as scansion questions).

  • the Latin exam is as much a test of how well you understand the question you are being asked, as of how well you understand the texts you have studied throughout the year.

  • all students find unseen translation difficult, but the marking guidelines take that into account.

  • big words do not impress markers; if you are going to use a big word, make sure you know what it means, and how it relates to the question.

  • Latin students around NSW are obsessed with alliteration.

8 comments:

teenage dirtbag said...

haha. obsessed with alliteration??? wow, umm thats a first!
care to give an example?? :)
im quite interested, really

Mike Salter said...

haha. obsessed with alliteration??? wow, umm thats a first!
care to give an example?? :)


Some successful students seriously suffer such a syndrome.

Thanks for the feedback JM. My head teacher has been trying to persuade me to apply for HSC marking for years, but since marking is the one part of this job I hate even more than writing reports, and since HSC marking occurs during (a) my busiest time of the year for gigs and (b) the beginning of the A-League season, i have so far declined. ;-)

But I might put my hand up for it one day.

teenage dirtbag said...

seriously, ive never actually thought that latin and alliteration could somehow connect....it shall remain a mystery for me

jm said...

there was a question in the exam that said something like 'How does Virgil create atmosphere in these lines?' many students talked about the alliteration of 'm' (or some other letter) to create a solemn tone- though there are much more obvious and important things to say about the passage in question (Aeneid VI.268ff). this may be a valid point (though, as a colleague said, it's pretty hard to write a latin sentence without using any 'm's), but my suspicion is that alliteration is one of the few language techniques students can identify with confidence, and so they write about it regardless of relevance.

Mike Salter said...

JM wrote:

...it's pretty hard to write a latin sentence without using any 'm's...

You mean, sententias Latinas sine hac littera facere difficile est? ;-)

teenage dirtbag said...

ohh latin in senior years really do sound like english lessons (or so i've heard). your suspicion seems valid i guess, it is pretty easy to identify alliteration (in any language as a matter of fact).

"sententias Latinas sine hac littera facere difficile est?"- ha thats pretty clever.

Hilbert said...

I've heard rumours that the unseen is "impression marked". Any truth in that?

BTW, nice blog J.

jm said...

thanks hilbert. the unseen is impression marked in that it's not a matter of subtracting marks for each mistake, and the candidate's overall understanding of the passage is taken into account. This means you can make a few minor mistakes (say mix up a noun-adjective agreement, or not know an item of vocabulary) and get full marks, if you show clearly that you understand what the passage is about. i think it's a good thing.