As they mark a student’s assignments, tutors and examiners don’t only take the answers into account, but also how well they are presented. Poor spelling, handwriting which is difficult to decipher, and a failure to adhere to a tutor’s specific presentation requirements will all cost a student valuable marks.
The most frequently made mistakes in GCSE and A ‘level work are often the most easily avoided ones. A quick double check through your work will help to make sure you don’t jeopardise a good result by accidentally forgetting a few essentials.
1. Make sure you have written the title of the essay or project accurately at the top of your work, and underline it (unless told not to by your tutor).
2. Make sure your name is written on each page of your work.
3. Any diagrams should be neatly drawn, labelled clearly and given a title or figure heading.
4. Graphs should have both the x (horizontal) and y (vertical) axis marked clearly.
5. Always read through your work once it’s finished to make sure your spelling is correct.
6. When answering an essay question, make sure you have stuck to the point.
7. When including footnotes, make sure they are labelled correctly in numerical order.
8. If required by your maths or science tutor to show workings out, make sure they are clearly legible.
9. When typing up your work on the computer, make sure you have formatted your page as per your tutor’s requirements, so that it is laid out correctly and the lines are properly spaced.
10. When you have made sure all of the above is correct, read your work through one more time, just in case you’ve missed something.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.