All students deserve to receive grades that show what they can do in good time for deciding the next stage of their lives. Examiners are crucial to making sure this happens.
Each year, exam boards recruit thousands of examiners to mark, moderate and write GCSE, AS and A level assessments. Examiners ensure that assessments are marked on time and with a high level of expertise.
Ahead of summer 2022, we ran a survey of GCSE, AS and A level examiners in England. We wanted to update our knowledge of the examiner workforce since previous surveys in 2013 and 2018, and to understand any effects due to the disruption from the pandemic. We had almost 15,000 responses, which represent around a quarter of the workforce.
Overall, our findings show that the examiner workforce has remained stable since 2018. Examiners are highly experienced, conscientious and committed. This is reassuring given the disruption from the pandemic over the past few years, including that formal exams and assessments did not go ahead in summer 2020 or 2021.
Here are 10 key findings from this work:
- Examiners remain a highly experienced workforce. They have an average of 10 years’ examining experience, similar to our 2018 survey.
- Almost all examiners (over 99%) are teachers or former teachers. They have high levels of teaching experience (20 years on average), and just under three-quarters are currently teaching.
- The workforce is largely stable. Most examiners in summer 2022 had examined before, and just over a tenth were new. Recruiting new examiners each year is important for the future of the workforce.
- Examiners recognise the importance of their work. The greatest pressure reported by markers and moderators is knowing the impact of their work on students’ future lives.
- The main reason examiners choose the work is so they can better support the students they teach by helping them to prepare for assessments. Most examiners mark or moderate the same specifications that they teach.
- Most examiners are positive about the marking and moderating process. Confidence remained high in summer 2022, despite adaptations being made to many assessments.
- Examiners are generally a highly satisfied workforce. More than four-fifths of respondents agreed that they are satisfied with their role, and an even higher proportion found their role meaningful and said they take pride in their work.
- Not all aspects of examining are viewed as satisfactory. About half of respondents said pay is unsatisfactory.
- Examiners said they find their role challenging (over four-fifths of respondents). A similar proportion (79%), however, said they enjoy it.
- Examiners are committed to their roles and the vast majority (89%) intend to continue examining for the foreseeable future.
We are extremely grateful to everyone who responded to our survey. For the full detail on the findings, please see our Survey of examiners report.
Associate Director, Standards & Technical Issues, Ofqual