ABE’s exemplary approach to marking

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Ensuring that you receive a fair mark for your assessment is as important to us as it is to you. For this reason, we have a robust system of examiner recruitment, training, marking, quality checking and, sadly, where necessary catching any cheats, so that everyone gets the mark they deserve.

Before you get your results

ABE marks every submission in-house, using suitably qualified examiners who are recruited based on relevant qualifications and strong experience in the subject(s) they are marking.

Ahead of live marking for each session, all markers attend a pre-session briefing which will update them on any live issues to look out for while assessing learner work.

Markers also attend a standardisation meeting with their subject Chief Examiner who has set the assessment.  During standardisation the marker team for a unit discuss and agree on the approach to marking, looking at a sample of learners’ work to take into consideration non-typical learner responses.

This process ensures that markers follow ABE’s positive marking ethos while achieving consistency in assessment outcomes. Following this meeting, where units are marked by more than one assessor, each marker’s standard of marking is checked by the subject Chief Examiner before they are allowed to continue marking the scripts they have been allocated.

During the marking period, the subject Chief Examiner takes further sample checks to ensure that the agreed standards have been maintained; if they have not, then adjustments (marker moderation) may be made. In the unlikely event that a standard is very inconsistent, then the whole of that marker’s allocation will be re-marked by another marker who has attended the standardisation meeting or the Subject Examiner.

As qualification levels are nationally and internationally recognised, it is important that ABE marks to the standard expected of these levels. Should there be any concerns about the marking outcomes of one unit relative to another, then recommendations will be made to the Assessment Board for changes to achieve parity across a level (unit moderation). It should be noted that these sorts of changes are very unusual.

Collusion, plagiarism and malpractice

During the marking stage, ABE also conducts rigorous checks that detect academic malpractice. 

We use world-leading anti-plagiarism software as our first line of defence.  As well as being able to identify the use of essay writing services, it is able to identify new forms of cheating such as artificial intelligence. If a learner is caught cheating, they will be targeted for close scrutiny through all their assessments for the duration of their ABE studies.  Less often, we will target centres a high level of scrutiny if there is a suspicion they have been encouraging malpractice.

We use software to check for the following:

  • Outright collusion
  • Use of essay writing services (or ‘contract cheating’)
  • Templating (where a class has relied too much on lecturer/tutor notes)
  • Copying internet sources without editing
  • Copying internet sources without referencing
  • Including vast bibliographies and unnecessary referencing
  • Including Appendices (they won’t be marked but Turnitin picks up internet matches anyway)
  • The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in assessments


Collusion is where two or more learners hand in the same piece of work and make a few changes in the hope of disguising the provenance.  This is rarely ever effective, even when they choose a piece of work that has passed the checks from a previous session: the similarities will still be picked up in the software.

Contract cheating

This is the use of essay writers or 'essay mills'.  It is strictly forbidden but sadly a few people persist in either using them or paying ghostwriters to create assignments. ABE maintains a list of prohibited contract cheating websites and service providers so we can detect when these services have been used. These, along with AI cheating, are the most prevalent examples of outright cheating. 

Take care with your referencing

There are examples where learners are very careless and this can have a detrimental effect on their result. For example, when learners copy internet sources without proper referencing they copy too much in a paragraph or if they don’t reference at all.  The inclusion of Bibliographies and vast Appendices further increase that risk and add very little of academic merit.


Sadly, recently we have seen an increase in people being disqualified due to using artificial intelligence. We are not against the use of AI as a research tool and will allow a small proportion of AI.  However, we check for AI use and will disqualify learners who use it to create assessments for submission.


We recognise that people are anxious to get a pass but cheating wastes the assessment fee and, most importantly of all, the student loses out on the valuable learning that is developed by their qualification and its assessment - ultimately cheats are cheating themselves out of skills and knowledge that will bring them a lifetime of value.