Skip to main content

Writing Assessment Criteria

Writing Assessment Criteria

Welcome to our new-look website. Any feedback or suggestions - please let us know.

Writing Assessment Criteria

Assessment criteria are crucial in establishing a clear understanding between staff and students about what is expected from assessed work.

They should specify clearly the standards that must be met and what evidence will be used to show achievement of learning outcomes. 

They help staff to ensure consistency in the ways that they assess specific pieces of work and provide students with a clear sense of why they have received certain marks for their work and what they need to do to improve.

They should be shared with students and, where necessary, explained to them. Many students do not feel confident or able to interpret assessment criteria on there own and often the grading process can seem very mysterious. Clear and specific assessment criteria can be extremely effective in helping students improve their performance and to feel confident in their learning.

Effective Criteria

Good assessment criteria should always:

  • describe which aspects of the learning outcomes will be assessed
  • indicate what is needed for a pass using positive language
  • state clearly what is expected to reach different levels of achievement
  • cover all aspects the module but not too many to be unmanageable for students or staff

This guidance document provides some ideas on activities that might support students to understand and engage with assessment criteria more effectively.

Top Tips

You might choose to start by looking at the assessment criteria for a comparable course in your School.

You could also begin by matching an assessment criteria with each learning outcome. This will get you thinking about what it is that you are looking for. Be aware, however, this may not allow for the assessment of developing complexity of knowledge and understanding in the students. As you go through, you will need to start thinking about the criteria at a more generic or broader level.

Consider what would a successful student need to do to obtain a bare pass or a first - be clear about the components which make up satisfactory performance, eg: clear structure, argument, engagement with critical material. It is best to start at the bottom, with a pass, to avoid negatively defining all categories which are not first class. Where possible criteria should concentrate on what the student has done, rather than what they have not done.

Always check for parity across grade boundaries against other programmes of study.

Before you confirm your criteria it is a good idea to ask colleagues to read them and check them for clarity and ambiguity.

Criteria are not set in stone and may be revised from year-to-year in response to feedback.