Awarding objective test papers: is there a correct answer?

In AQA, Objective Tests (OTs) have, in GCSEs generally, historically been awarded via a process known as 'back calculation' from other components. More recently, other methods such as Angoff (GCE) and KS3 predicted outcomes/IRT (GCSE Science) have also been employed. However, back calculation and the use of predicted outcomes do not involve professional judgement. This is in contrast to the Angoff approach, but this latter method has had mixed success as used in the current AQA GCEs. In 2004 and 2005, trials of awarding OTs using the Bookmark method were carried out in the AQA Manchester Research Department (Fowles, 2004 & 2005), but these did not give promising results and the approach was not pursued. This paper reviews the most recent literature on the principal current methods of awarding which can readily be applied to OTs (and which incorporate professional judgement into the process). The methods are compared, and the apparent pros and cons of each approach summarised, to provide an overall evaluation of the current scenario. The paper is also intended to serve as a basis for discussion as to how the award of the new AQA Diploma OT unit in January 2009, and those of other new OT units in the future, should be conducted.

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