Each year, over 25 million separate exam scripts and items of coursework are marked by nearly 60,000 examiners and moderators. Awarding Bodies will issue over 2 million A and AS level results and around 6 million GCSE results.


The vast majority of examiners are teachers or retired teachers. These experienced subject specialists play an important role and bring a wealth of knowledge about their subject to the marking process.

How many papers do they mark?

Awarding Bodies’ investment in technology has meant that increasing numbers of papers are marked online. Individual examiners may only be marking a limited number of questions in the paper. Benefits to the increased use of online marking include examiners not being influenced by the answers to other questions on the paper or having to switch between topics frequently. How long each examiner will mark for will vary, dependent upon the time they are able to commit and whether they are marking essay style or shorter answers, however, several hours a day would be usual.

The quality of marking is of course more important than the quantity. Examiners must be marking accurately and fairly. The online system is important because it means an examiner’s marking may be reviewed online by a senior examiner immediately, rather than having to wait for the papers to be posted. It also makes it possible for the senior examiner to monitor what times of day the examiner is working and the length of time spent marking in one session, enabling much greater scrutiny in the system.

How much do they get paid?

The level of remuneration varies across subjects and Awarding Bodies and is also dependent upon the level of examiner and how many scripts they mark. Although they are paid for marking, as many examiners are teachers, they may choose to take on this additional responsibility both for professional development reasons and above all, for the students.

Are there enough examiners?

With over 25 million scripts needing to be marked there are opportunities within the Awarding Bodies for subject specialists interested in becoming an examiner. It is for schools to encourage their best teachers to become examiners. This has several benefits, giving teachers a valuable insight into the assessment process, networking opportunities and of course some extra money.

If you are interested in becoming an examiner you should look at the specific requirements listed on the individual JCQ member Awarding Body websites and then contact the Awarding Body to apply.

What qualifications do examiners need?

The vast majority of examiners are usually teachers and Awarding Bodies will often ask for a certain amount of experience teaching their chosen subject.

Examiners are given excellent training to be able to apply the mark scheme and understand how the systems work. They receive specific training on the paper or question they are going to mark and are given ongoing support and checks throughout the process.

If you are interested in becoming an examiner you should look at the specific requirements listed on the individual JCQ member Awarding Body websites and then contact the Awarding Body to apply.

Online marking

As part of their continual investment in the external marking system, Awarding Bodies have introduced online marking to greatly reduce the risk that a script could be lost or damaged in transit. The original script remains in secure storage at the Awarding Body during online marking. The marking of separate sections of a script may be done by multiple examiners simultaneously. Each examiner is able to focus solely upon the question(s) they have been allocated, rather than changing topics frequently, thereby improving the accuracy and consistency of marking. Removing the need to transport hard copy scripts during the marking process means senior examiners are now able to perform checks much more quickly, speeding up the marking process overall.


The marking process begins once a script has been completed. There are over 25 million completed scripts a year allocated to over 60,000 examiners. Examiners, senior examiners and Awarding Bodies follow established regulated processes to ensure that there is fairness across the examination system. Awarding Bodies collate the marks received from individual examiners and develop these into grade boundaries; finally marks are converted into grades. These grades are given to students on GCSE and A Level Results Days.

Do students get their scripts back?

Awarding Bodies do not routinely return candidate scripts to centres. However, staff may request the return of individual student scripts from the awarding body to support teaching and learning. For more information on the application process, please see the JCQ publication ‘Post-Results Services’.

Pieces of art work are often moderated, which means they are initially marked by the school under strict guidelines and samples are moderated independently. Moderators will usually pass the work back to the school.

The role of the JCQ

The JCQ represents the collective view of its member Awarding Bodies.

We aim to reduce the administrative burden on schools by developing common guidance and regulations for the exam system.