How Does the Essay Feedback Work?

Here at Shani’s Tutoring, I offer many classes, worksheets and services to improve your writing skills and boost your grades in English. One of the vital services I offer is my essay feedback.

Feedback is one of the most powerful and efficient ways to improve your work. I make sure that all of the feedback I give is personal and detailed. That way, you will always know exactly how you can get the grades you want.

You can get this feedback in a few different ways:

  • Buy one-off marking from my shop.
  • Join the Essay Expert membership tier (currently full).
  • Purchase a course with essay-marking included.
  • Book a tutoring session with me to discuss your essay.

The essay feedback that I offer here at Shani’s Tutoring is very valuable. You benefit from my wealth of experience: I have been a tutor for over 6 years and a qualified EFL teacher since 2018. Plus, I am now on a journey to gain QTS and fully qualify as an English teacher. As well as that, I will give you my expert-level knowledge of grammar and essay-writing skills.

But how does this all help you? How does this whole essay-marking process give you the feedback that you need to succeed? Well, stick around and let me explain that to you.

Why Feedback is So Valuable #

Essay feedback is a great way to improve. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is the best way to get better grades in English. Not just English, either! You can say the same about any essay-based subject, such as history, drama, media studies, politics, economics, classics, philosophy and religious studies – just to name a few!

Why is feedback such a useful tool? Well, there are a few different reasons why it is so good:

  • The feedback you get is personal and catered to you.
  • It helps you to be independent. You do the essay on your own. Then, you get feedback on how to improve once you’re done.
  • You get to practice writing essays, which is what you need to do for an exam or a piece of coursework.
  • You get clear, concrete goals that you can work on to improve in the future.
  • Because it is based on your own work, your teacher or tutor can pick out examples from your writing to show you what they mean. That means you can say goodbye to vague tips!
  • Feedback from an experienced teacher or tutor can help you to understand what the examiner is looking for.
  • Good feedback won’t just tell you how to improve. It will also shed light on what you did well. That way, you can still stay positive even if you have new goals to reach!

Once you are close to your exams, you will reach a point where it is much more useful to you to just write. At that point, essay feedback is much more useful than normal classwork. Just send your essay to your tutor or teacher and let them mark it for you. That way, you can get on with revision!

The Essay Mark Scheme #

When giving you feedback on your essay, I do not use the mark scheme of any particular exam board. Instead, I have created my own!

If you would like to see my mark scheme for yourself, check it out below.

I designed this mark scheme to meet all the criteria of the government’s national curriculum. Then, I branched out to study all the major exam boards in the UK. This includes (but is not limited to) AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Cambridge International and WJEC. I looked at the assessment objectives and mark schemes of all these exam boards for both GCSE and A-level. This helped me to create one comprehensive mark scheme of my own.

The main mark scheme is out of 300. I split these marks into 16 key areas of focus, then grouped these areas into 4 main categories. The categories are as follows:

  • Understanding of the Text
  • Formulating an Argument
  • Writing Coherently
  • SPaG

Of course, the most important areas of focus, such as “Close Language Analysis”, get the most marks out of 300. Dividing the mark scheme like this allows me to give you excellent essay feedback. The exam boards tend to mark out of 80 or 100. While that works great for them, it’s not so good if you want to know exactly what you need to improve on.

After all, if you got 30/30 on “Evidence” and a 15/40 on “Close Analysis,” you know what you need to brush up on! To make it extra clear, I also highlight your best and most challenging areas. Plus, I give you extra tips to do better next time. No more fretting over the small details! My feedback will set you on the right path!

Why I Only Use One Mark Scheme #

When I first started marking essays in 2015, I asked students which exam boards they were studying for every time. I would go on the exam board’s website and find their mark scheme and assessment objectives. I would print those out and mark based on that exclusively. However, I quickly found four big problems with that approach:

  1. All the exam boards had very similar goals in their mark schemes. Often, these were just a copy-paste of the national curriculum. I was wasting time, energy and paper with my old method.
  2. The mark schemes were not very accessible to students. I found that I always needed to simplify the language to explain the grades to my students. I couldn’t just tell them that they needed to work on AO2, because they had no clue what AO2 wanted them to do!
  3. Sometimes, the exam boards wouldn’t explicitly include things in the mark scheme that you absolutely need if you want to do well in English. For example, they don’t say a whole lot about introductions and conclusions! You do need them, though. I promise!
  4. Key Stage 3, GCSE and A-level aren’t very different, really! You just have to do more close analysis, read more complex texts and learn new subject terminology as you go up. Some GCSE students were writing well enough to pass an A-level. On the other hand, some sixth formers needed more of a transition from GCSE. I wanted more flexibility to cater for this.

So, I just combined all the mark schemes. It works much better that way because I can give detailed feedback. Plus, I want all students to reach my top mark no matter how old they are. If you write like an A-level student at age 14, that should be recognised!


How the Mark Scheme Helps With Your Exams #

The mark scheme I use will look very different from the one your exam board prints on its website. Don’t let that throw you off, though! The Shani’s Tutoring mark scheme will absolutely prepare you for your exams!

In this mark scheme, I cover all the things they say you need to do in GCSE and A-level mark schemes. On top of that, I also cover the things that they don’t explicitly mention in the mark scheme, but they do expect you to do well. For example, as I mentioned earlier, introductions and conclusions. Mark schemes often say you need a good structure to your essay, but they rarely explain what that means.

Plus, I have also split up some of the AOs. For example, the AQA assessment objectives group your “point” and your “evidence” together in AO1. For me, though, I think they need to be split. You could make a very good point but fail to back it up with good evidence. Maybe your evidence is great, but your point doesn’t make sense! If they’re grouped together, it’s harder for you to tell which you need to work on.

My essay feedback takes all of this into account. You can also add some extra details for me to check when you give me your essay. If your teacher says you need to work on something else, I will be on the lookout for that, as well as all the other things in the mark scheme.

About the Grading System #

Since I don’t use any specific exam board’s mark scheme, it doesn’t make sense for me to use their grade boundaries, either! So, naturally, I have made my own.

I have my own grading system with A1 as the highest and U as the lowest. This is so that I can give you a grade no matter what level you’re working at.

If you are a sixth former who isn’t working at an A-level grade yet, you don’t have to worry! You can still track your progress over time and see how well you are doing. You don’t have to look at your grades on a pass-fail basis. If you are a KS3 or GCSE student working above your level, you aren’t limited to the highest grade you can get for your age range. You can see and track your progress beyond that!

Of course, you will want to know how close you are to getting your target grade for your exam. So, I also have approximate equivalents for you to check out. They will help you to see if you are close to getting where you want to be. Check the grade boundaries in the PDF below for more.

Please be careful, though. These equivalent grades are only there to give you a rough idea of where you’re at. Don’t use them as a predicted grade. Definitely do not see them as a way to undermine or replace your teacher’s predicted grades! I have made them extra harsh to be cautious, so the chances are that you’re doing better than you think.


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