CIPFA exam marking and moderation processes

Following feedback from some of our students regarding the transparency of processes behind examination marking and moderation, we would like to outline our exam production, standardisation, the marking and moderation processes and how we deal with errors in exam papers.

Exam production

For exam production, all exam papers go through a rigorous quality process before they are released as live exams. The process is as follows.

  • Our exam authors draft an exam paper and marking scheme.
  • The first draft of the exam paper and marking scheme will be presented to the exam moderator. They will review the initial draft of the questions/tasks and the marking scheme and provide feedback on each question and the paper as a whole.
  • The exam author amends questions and the marking scheme in light of the exam moderator’s comments and submits final questions for approval. The moderator’s responsibility is to cross-reference, check for errors and sit the assessment paper without reference to the marking scheme.
  • Once the exam paper and marking scheme has been approved by the moderator, a final draft of the paper is sent to CIPFA.
  • CIPFA will then present the final exam paper and marking scheme to the Question Paper Evaluation Committee (QPEC) for consideration, who evaluate the assessment and accompanying documentation. This is intended to be the final version, but it needs to be approved before release to students.
  • After QPEC, exam papers are built into our e-assessment platform, and a final check is carried out by the author before the draft paper turns into a final live paper ready for students to sit.

Marking and standardisation

After students sit the exams, the scripts are sent to our independent marking team and the process begins.

Six scripts are randomly chosen. Those scripts are each marked independently by the team of markers.

The results following this marking process are then compared in a standardisation meeting. Any discrepancies between markers are analysed and then aligned. This approach allows all markers to agree the marking scheme to ensure consistency before the first marking stage begins.

Once the marking scheme is confirmed, all the scripts are passed through the first marking stage. After this is complete, scripts are passed through to the second marking stage.

  • Stage 1 of second marking is where 15% of the scripts (or ten scripts, whichever number is greater) for each marker are re-marked by another marker. This checks for consistency and accuracy across the board.
  • Stage 2 of second marking is for any marginal scripts scoring between 46–51%, which are sent to an independent marker.

As a final step, the results are presented to an examination panel, who review and ratify the marking process and the results awarded.

When there is an error in the exam paper, we review the impact of the error and take into consideration the thorough moderation process with the exam paper production and the marking process. A solution will be presented to the examination panel, which will steer to the advantage of those students taking the exam, as the impact is considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you have any questions regarding this, please email

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