Let’s face it.

The way that most institutions grade exams is time-consuming, inefficient, and doesn’t improve student performance.

Many instructors still rely on paper-based exams that they distribute, collect, and grade individually. Teaching assistants (TAs) and other graders must meet at a specific time and location to go through each exam by hand. This manual labour is not only inefficient but can result in errors and re-grade requests. All the paper shuffling can also lead to lost or misplaced exams.

Traditional grading processes are not only cumbersome for instructors but also limiting for students. For example, many exams are multiple-choice and don’t give you a true indicator of students’ knowledge. They can often guess the correct answer without actually learning the concept. If you don’t have insights into students’ true knowledge, you can’t provide useful and timely feedback that helps them succeed in both school and their future jobs.

In addition, traditional, multiple-choice exams don’t emphasize the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning – communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. All of these skills are vital to succeeding in the new world of work, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers where employees must work together to innovate and solve problems.

A report by the World Economic Forum stated that creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration will be some of the most-desired job skills by 2020.[1] Meanwhile, 90 percent of respondents to a Pearson study said that communications skills are vital to getting ahead in life.[2]

Your institution has a huge opportunity to modernize your grading processes and better prepare students for exciting careers in STEM fields. New technology allows you to rethink how you give exams. You can leverage this technology to move from traditional, paper-based grading to an online, advanced testing and grading model.

What Is Advanced Testing and Grading?

Advanced testing and grading is collaborative, online grading and analytics.

It moves away from paper-based, multiple choice exams that give students very little feedback on their performance. Instead, advanced testing and grading uses long-form exams that contain both essays and multiple-choice questions. This mix of responses allows instructors to better assess students’ knowledge and provide timely feedback that will help them improve.

With advanced testing and grading, instructors can either print exams or administer them online. After collecting the exams, TAs or an outsourced professional service will scan them on a multi-function printer and upload them to an online platform. Instructors and TAs can then mark the exams in an online portal, anywhere and anytime. They can print, email, or send the results to a central student management system. Instructors can log into the system to view the results and give immediate feedback to students.

The online platform also provides instructors with analytics, so they can identify commonly missed questions and track students’ improvement on an ongoing basis.

What Are the Benefits of Advanced Testing and Grading?

Advanced testing and grading offers benefits in three key areas – time savings, convenience, and greater accuracy. With advanced testing and grading, you can:

  • Reduce grading time. Advanced testing and grading eliminates many time-consuming tasks, such as data entry and disseminating exams. This can reduce your overall grading time by up to 70 percent.
  • Minimize re-grading and reduce errors. The online grading platform saves each exam as an image. This eliminates lost or misplaced pages while creating a digital record that students cannot alter.
  • Give instructors and TAs greater flexibility. With advanced testing and grading, instructors and TAs don’t need to meet at a specific time and location to mark paper exams. They can access the online portal to grade exams from any device and location.

Online grading also eliminates paper, along with the germs and paper cuts that come with it. Just think of all the germs that you can pick up when you grade exams for a large class and pass the papers between multiple instructors and TAs. 

  • Promote unbiased grading. Each exam contains a QR code that identifies the student. That way, students don’t need to write their names on exams and can receive unbiased grading. Meanwhile, different TAs can grade the same batch of tests, as well as provide feedback on the same question.
  • Improve student performance. Since advanced testing and grading eliminates many time-consuming steps, instructors can process exams faster and give students timely and constructive
  • Better prepare students to join the workforce. Long-form tests improve students’ communication and critical thinking skills, which are two of the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. These skills prepare students for the new world of work, where employees must work in teams to solve problems.

How to Get Started

Some institutions are hesitant to change their grading processes. However, modernizing the way that you approach exams not only saves you time but better prepares students for their future careers. It also improves the student experience by allowing them to receive timely, constructive feedback from instructors.

You can get started with modern grading by providing students with guidance throughout the year – not just at the end of the term. Advanced testing and grading minimizes manual steps, so you can disseminate exams faster and give students timely and sufficient feedback. This improves how students learn so that they can excel in school and beyond.

Discover how other educational institutions are delivering better student experiences. Visit RicohChangeMakers.ca/Education.

[1] Inc:, The 10 Top Skills That Will Land You High-Paying Jobs by 2020, According to the World Economic Forum, December 29, 2017

[2] Pearson and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning: Skills for Today: What We Know About Teaching and Assessing Communication, 2017