Marking Guide and Booklets

Marking Guide

The Marking Guide presents the process used to mark the English Exit Exams. It includes descriptors for evaluating the student's competency on the exam's twelve sub-criteria as well as the grid for converting these assessments into letter grades for the three major criteria measured by the exam. The guide pertains solely to the grading of this Ministerial exam and does not relate to marking schemes used by instructors to evaluate course work.

Evaluation Criteria

Papers are graded on three criteria: Comprehension and Insight, Organization of Response, and Expression, on a scale from A (very good) to F (unacceptable).

A. Very good
B. Good
C. Adequate
D. Weak
E. Very poor
F. Unacceptable

Passing Grade: A grade of C in each criterion is a passing grade. Papers which are graded D, E or F in any criterion will fail.

Comprehension and Insight

  • recognition of a main idea from the selected reading
  • identification of techniques and/or devices employed by the author
  • evidence of critical or analytical interpretation of the selection
  • references that demonstrate understanding of the reading

Organization of Response

  • statement of a thesis about the text
  • structured development of the essay
  • use of detail to support the thesis
  • unified paragraph structure


  • appropriate use of words
  • varied and correct sentence structures
  • correct grammar
  • conventional spelling, punctuation, and usage

Techniques and Device

The exam asks students to select a reading and then to identify the techniques and/or devices used by its author. Simply put, the techniques and devices are the building blocks of the essay or short story. They are the strategies and tools, the rhetorical and literary elements which the author uses to achieve an intended effect on an audience.

Not all readings will provide examples of all available techniques and devices, but students will have learned to recognize the effect of most of the items listed below during their three English courses.

  • allusion
  • analysis
  • anecdote
  • character
  • classification
  • comparison
  • contrast
  • description
  • diction
  • example
  • imagery
  • irony
  • metaphor
  • narration
  • overstatement (hyperbole)
  • plot
  • point of view
  • satire
  • setting
  • simile
  • slang
  • symbolism
  • tone
  • understatement

A simple catalogue of terms, however, is not what examiners will be looking for. They will be looking to see that students understand how the techniques and devices are used by authors. Because all teachers do not use precisely the same terminology, the examiners will not be expecting students to apply a rigidly defined technical vocabulary within the exam setting.

The above list is not intended to be complete nor exclusive. Some terms may be unfamiliar and many terms used in classrooms are absent. The purpose of this list is merely to provide some examples of what examiners expect students to recognize as tools of the trade in a literate society.


The exam consists of four documents: Booklet 1 – Rough Work, Booklet 2 – Final Copy, Booklet 3 – Readings, and a page of Writing Guidelines. Booklets 1 and 2 are common to all exams; Booklet 3 – Readings and the Writing Guidelines are specific to each exam.

Booklet 1 – Instructions and Rough Work

Booklet 2 – Final Copy

Booklet 3 – Because of copyright restrictions, the original readings cannot be posted on the Internet. However, each college library, learning centre, and English Department has copies of the exam readings that have been used to date.

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