Is the whole worth more than the sum of the parts? Studies of examiners' grading of individual papers and candidates' whole A-level examination performances

Typically, students are assessed on elements of their performance, and it is assumed that the sum of marks for these elements will be just as impressive as the students' whole performances. Examiners might expect more for a particular grade if they only see parts of the students' work separately. Two experiments were carried out comparing examiners' judgements of the grade-worthiness of candidates' A-level examination work at question paper level and at subject level. The results of both studies suggested that examiners may have compensated to some extent for the different aspects of the subject tested in different question papers when they made holistic judgements, but did not make this compensation when they made question paper judgements. Tunnel vision effects are likely to be greater in the AS/A2 examinations than those found here, because the examinations will be broken into smaller parts.

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