Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated when marking exams. Knowing why you are doing it, for the personal development and ensuring that the students get their results on time, can help.

However, sometimes you need that little extra to keep you on track.

We’ve come up with two methods to keep you motivated whilst you mark your exam papers:

  1. Keeping your spirits bright
  2. Beating procrastination

1.    Keeping your spirits bright

Set goals, and remind yourself of them

Before you sit down and start marking exam papers, give yourself a weekly goal on how many scripts you are aiming to mark. Follow the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) principles to keep your marking goal realistic, that way you won’t be disheartened if you don’t reach them.

Check your progress frequently to see how close you are to achieving your goal throughout the marking period to help you stay motivated.

Reward yourself every time you achieve your weekly goals

This can be something as simple as having  a bowl of ice cream after a long, hard week of marking exam papers or as rewarding as a trip to the beach. The reward needs to be something that you are really looking forward to, to keep you going should you start to lose motivation.

Give yourself breaks

It can be easy to power through your exam marking in the hope to get it done more quickly, but even the most determined examiner can get overwhelmed. If you find that your quality of marking dims or it takes you twice as long to mark a script compared to when you first started, you may be burning yourself out. Going for a walk or watching an episode of your favourite TV program can help renew your spirits and keep you motivated to carry on.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

If you don’t meet your marking goals for a week, take it as a lesson. Try to complete your next target before time, so you can catch up with your marking goals from the previous week. This way you can stay on schedule even if you have taken a blow.

Don’t dwell on missing your marking target, but instead review why it happened and re-evaluate.

2.    Beating procrastination

Eliminate distractions

We live in a world full of distractions. Identify anything that’s causing you to procrastinate, for example your mobile phone, TV, radio, a good book, and get rid of it or turn it off.

If you find yourself browsing the internet when you wanted to concentrate on marking scripts, you can install a “productivity” extension on your browser. These extensions allow you to block certain sites like Facebook or Twitter, and/or set time limits for accessing these sites.

Keep yourself accountable

Hold yourself accountable in your own eyes and the eyes of others. Set personal penalties each time you miss your marking goal, such as donating to a charity. Tell your friends and family about what you plan on doing so that they can make sure you stick to it.

Break your tasks into manageable pieces

If you’re having serious motivation problems, break your weekly exam marking goals into smaller, daily tasks. This can make it much easier to approach psychologically as you get the feeling of accomplishment from completing the small task, helping you maintain momentum during the marking period.

Losing your exam marking ‘mojo’ is normal and happens to every examiner at some point, even the most experienced ones. Life can sometimes get in the way: your circumstances may have changed meaning that your marking goal is no longer realistic or is changing week by week due to other commitments.

By taking action using the above methods and tips, you’ll find that your self-motivation returns and could even grow throughout the marking period.

Remember, if you are really struggling, you can talk to your team leader and/or awarding body representative to see if they can help with your workload, such as changing your marking target to you can take on fewer scripts.