When I was a maths undergrad, I did some mock papers. However the lecturers did not provide the marking scheme for us to learn from model answers. The reason given at the time was a mumbled 'university policy'.

My question is, why would a university have a policy of not providing the marking scheme/model answers for a mock paper?

  • 10
    The null hypothesis is that no extra material/work by instructors will be provided. That is, the burden of proof rests on the side arguing that such should be provided. What arguments exist in its favor? Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 22:00
  • You might want to say in your question "Making Scheme or Worked Solutions or unworked solutions." if that is what you mean. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 4:58
  • 2
    "...why would a university have a policy of not providing the marking scheme/model answers for a mock paper?" Because it may be too much additional work for too little gain. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:19
  • 1
    We had this in undergrad engineering. Solution was to set up google doc pages for people to post their answers in basically a collaborative discussion based 'crowd-solve' format (almost like SE!). Consensus was found pretty soon. The pages were linked from the subject's facebook group (another good idea). I see that the pages I set up are still being accessed years later, and by a completely different cohort. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 11:38
  • 2
    You could probably usefully turn your question around and ask "what is the value of doing mock exams when there is no marking scheme given" to get a different perspective. Also, for the benefit of this non-mathematics American, could someone very kindly explain what a marking scheme is? Is it like what I would call an answer key or a rubric?
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 14:02

4 Answers 4


The materials provided to students should benefit their learning. It is not clear, how the marking scheme would help student to understand the actual material. Knowing the marking scheme can help a student to prepare to a particular exam without learning all the curriculum (e.g. by focusing on what is assessed). This is known as surface learning, and is often considered as bad practice.

  • 9
    Marking schemes can help you identify which parts you understand incorrectly. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:10
  • 1
    @immibis: Yes, I think most teachers agree that marking schemes certainly can be genuinely useful to students in some good ways, as you say. The problem is, as this answer says, that they also encourage bad learning habits at the same time. So overall, they are not very helpful — and certainly not as helpful as other kinds of materials (e.g. study guides, extra practice exercises) that an instructor can spend their time on producing instead.
    – PLL
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 9:34
  • 1
    @immibis You probably mean "model answers", not "marking scheme". Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 12:55

In addition to the other excellent answers, there will always be some students who will assume that the marking scheme for the final exam is similar to the one for the mock exam no matter how often you told them that this is not the case.

But since the questions in the final exam will obviously be different, the marking scheme there will most likely be different, as different errors can be made by the students and must be taken into account in the scheme. Also, some parts of some questions may be trivial in the final exam, and you may want to assign a fewer fraction of the points for those.

So you will have to convince some students who will try to argue that they should get more points using old marking scheme and claiming that it would be unfair if the marking schemes differ substantially.

As a lecturer, you don't want to spend you time with such discussions.

  • 5
    I just wanted to add this point, when I saw your answer. While there are many students who actually try to understand, there are always some who consider any detailed marking scheme as a sort of check-list of things they need to write down in the exam, without understanding why they need to write them.
    – mlk
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 8:05

All material has a cost/benefit ratio.

Writing a marking scheme suitable for distributing to students can take quite a while (normally mark schemes are designed for lecturers, so some parts can be quite brief). Students will query cases where they feel they were one or two marks too low, even though the exam was only a mock paper so the result is not really important.

So then the question is, what is the benefit?


My university also does not provide marking schemes. They give one main reason.

They expect students to discuss their answers collaboratively and come to a consensus on what can be considered a correct answer. This is a much better learning experience than working from a marking scheme.

  • This is what we did. I'd suggest that the university came up with this 'reason' retroactively after seeing it happen... (at least in the case of my alma mater) Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 11:40
  • @LamarLatrell almost definately! However they don't give any other reasons so I don't want to speculate :) Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 15:33

You must log in to answer this question.