Marking Made Eas(ier)

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Below is a post that I did as part of eCampus Ontario’s 9x9x25 challenge in the Fall of 2018.   Since then, Conestoga has started a pilot of Gradescope and I hope that it will lead to a full roll out of Gradescope for any faculty that chooses to use it.

I have found Gradescope to be a tool that I can’t live without… read on to find out more.


I’ve been teaching a lot of math courses and one of the things I struggle with is marking paper based tests. When you mark a math problem it’s not only about the final answer. The process is very important. Students could do everything right but make one small mistake and the final answer will be wrong. It’s important to recognize that a student understands the process as well as the final answer. I tell my students if they want full marks on a test, they need to show their work.  And for the most part, they are pretty good at it.

It can take a long time to mark math tests because I have to mark both the process and final answer.  I write lots of comments on my tests to help students understand where they went wrong. I know that most of them won’t read them, but for the ones that do, I want them to have the chance to learn from their mistakes. When you are marking 40+ papers, that can take a long time.

The problem is, students tend to make similar mistakes and as a result, I end up writing the same comments over and over again.


A colleague of mine, Nancy Nelson (@ProfNancyNelson) told me about an app called Gradescope. She said she found it helped her be more efficient with her marking. I did some exploring and decided to give it a try.

Screenshot 2018-10-07 09.33.10

Gradescope is very simple and intuitive to use. 

  • First, scan or upload your test (or assignment) and identify the name and student number sections on the paper. 
  • Then identify the areas on the test/assignment where each question will be answered and assign marks for each question.
  • You can set up your rubric here, or do it when you are marking.
  • Once you have set up the test/assignment, you can import your class list with student numbers from the Employee Portal.

When students write the test or submit their assignment,  you use a photocopier to scan the tests into a PDF and import them into Gradescope. Gradescope matches each paper to the student number and you are ready to mark.


The one thing that Gradescope gives me that I can’t get by manual marking (without a lot of time spend doing the calculations) is data about the test; how students did on each question, the breakdown of the grades etc..

Mean score of an individual question.
Scores on individual questions
Chart depicting whole assignment mean score compared to individual question mean score.
Performance on individual questions compared to the mean – this helps rethink wording or structure of some questions

Being able to take my laptop and mark anywhere, without having all the papers to flip through was an additional benefit. It easy to start and stop. Whenever I had some spare time and I had my laptop or tablet close by, I could open up Gradescope and mark a question.

Screenshot 2018-10-07 10.39.19


Summary report of a student’s performance by question, which can be distributed to the student.

One other feature I really liked was the summary report that Gradescope produces.  It shows the details of each question and what errors were made (if any).  Students can see very quickly where they went wrong and what kinds of mistakes they made.  As their teacher, I can see if there is a pattern to their mistakes and use that to focus how I help them.


I have to say I’m sold. Rather than writing the same comments over and over again, I was able to set up a rubric with the comments I wanted to have (and associated points deductions) and apply them as I marked each question. Not only was it more efficient but it insured that I was marking consistently.

Between the ease of marking, the reports and the data, I am hooked. This was such a great experience, I plan on using Gradescope for all my marking!

Happy Marking Everyone!

Original blog post:

Writing Details

  • Author: Lisa Koster, @lkoster
  • Published: November 29, 2019
  • Word Count: 1174
  • Reading time: ~ 4 minutes
  • Edit Link: (emailed to author) Request Now
  • Rights: Creative Commons CC-BY Attribution License This work by Lisa Koster, @lkoster is licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY Attribution 4.0 International License.
  • Featured Image: Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels
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