Taking Longer to Get Assessments Done Sooner


Taking longer means getting it done sooner

I get it. Study is not the only thing on your plate right now. And assessments can sometimes take a long time, so it is tempting to take shortcuts. Your assessor probably won’t read everything anyway, right?

Going Fast

Ideally your assessor will read everything but that is not always the case. It’s great to get your assessor’s full attention when they are marking your work, as it should be. Assessors want you to feel that they have taken the time to consider your work and mark it appropriately. And to do that for you and all their other students, they become pretty good at skim reading and picking up key information you have provided in your answers. Mistakes are picked up easily too, and most students make mistakes by not reading the question or instructions carefully.

It may seem like a time saver to skim read assessment instructions and quickly jot down some words that seem to match but you might miss key instruction words. Yes, pesky words like “list, explain, describe, reflect…” Assessors are clued into instruction words like that and it is often blaringly obvious when a student has not responded in kind. What happens next is several feedback comments that point out where instruction words have been missed and some tips for the student to make corrections. And then it needs to be re-answered, resubmitted, and re-marked. All of that takes time.

Example of NYS Feedback

Assessors do read submitted work – assessor feedback following a second submission where a student tried to go fast.

Right, so how does that affect my time?

Let’s say there is a four-day turnaround time for marking. You spend a day working on your answers and submit it. Four days later you receive feedback from your assessor and there is a bunch of corrections to make. Another day of work and a re-submission, and another four days to receive your mark. That’s nearly two weeks and we are assuming only one re-submission was needed. Four days is the longest a Fortress Learning assessor will take to mark your work. Most of the time it will be done in two business days.

That might not seem like long, but if you are studying a full course with 10 units you could be experiencing up to 50 days of study time lost due to trying to go fast. Let’s have a look at what that might look like for different study options; we will add weekends into the equation since assessors like to rest sometimes too:

  • 12 months to complete 10 units: Up to 140 days lost time after a couple of rounds of feedback. That’s not too bad since there are still another 224 days left.
  • 6 months to complete 10 units: Things start to look tight here. Only 42 days remain after a couple of rounds of feedback

(Of course, this is if the marking is done within 4 days….imagine what happens to these numbers if your training organisation was to take weeks or months – as some do – to get your work reviewed and returned.)

But that appears to leave plenty of time so why am I telling you all this?

To successfully complete your study, you should expect to put in an amount of time for your training and assessment relevant to the amount of achievement expected. All of that is called Volume of Learning (image below). Different people will require different amounts of time based on their experience and various learning capabilities, so your millage may vary. What we are talking about is the portion of time dedicated to completing assessments.

Volume of Learning Table

Volume of Learning – https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/chapter-4/clauses-1.1-1.4-and-2.2

Going Slow

Okay, so if going fast is slower, how is going slower faster?

Going slow means you take the time to read your assessment questions and instructions carefully. You take note of key words like “list, explain, describe, reflect…” and you take a moment to pause and think of how you could structure your response around them. Assessors are not asking you to answer questions that may seem to ask for a lot for giggles, instead questions are constructed based on achieving specific mandatory benchmarks. We don’t want to make you do more than you must achieve your nationally accredited competencies and qualifications. We do want to make sure you really understand and know how to do the work your qualification says you can do. Your employer will thank you for your genuine skill.

I’m going to step you though how I would answer an assessment question.

Or rather, step you through how to start answering it. I’m not giving away the answer, that would be cheating. This one is from one of Fortress Learning’s assessments for TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment:

TAE4 Question Example

Question from Fortress Learning assessment, TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

It seems easy enough – I can read the learning material provided by Fortress Learning or I can go to ASQA’s website to find out the answer; personally, I would do both to make sure the information is correct.

I could do it the quick way and list the names of the standards. Submitting that should net me feedback from my assessor that I did not answer the question. Wait, why? because I did not ‘briefly describe’ each standard. That might take me 20 minutes plus eight days of waiting for my assessor to mark my work and provide feedback. Although Fortress Learning assessors are known to complete most marking within two days, but that means you are still waiting for four days.

Or I could take some time and care to describe each standard. First, I will need to read a bit about each of the standards and then write a sentence or two that describes each one. That’s 16 sentences, tops. On a slow day I type at about 50 words per minute and at an average of 14 words per sentence, typing my answer would take about five minutes. I’m going to assume about 20 minutes of reading time to get an overview understanding of the eight clauses. In total it took me about 25 minutes to answer that question.

S Feedback Example

Feedback to student who took their time – Satisfactory first submission

Let’s, for argument sake, assume all assessment questions will take 25 minutes to answer.

There are about 30 questions for each unit and that works out to 12.5 hours of work. I work and have family responsibilities, but I can probably complete it in a week. I submit all my answers and get a response from my assessor in 2-4 days. What I submit is probably correct and if there are any corrections for me to make, they will only be minor and won’t take much time. Now, if I have 10 units to complete that will take me between one and two months. That leaves extra time up my sleeve, to complete practical learning activities.

  • 12 months to complete 10 units: 110 days spent on assessments including waiting for marking. Leaving 254 days for practical learning. That’s better by 30-50 days.
  • 6 months to complete 10 units: 110 days spent on assessments including waiting for marking. Leaving 72 days for practical learning. Again, that’s better by 30-50 days.

That looks much better than if I had tried to rush my answers. Rushing would have afforded me much less time to complete my practical learning. I would have been quite a stress ball by the end of that. By going slow, I have saved myself from stress and got it done sooner.

Appeal to students

Dear Students,

Take your time to read the assessment questions and instructions carefully so you know what is expected. Take note of instruction words like “list, explain, describe, reflect…” Take your time to think about your response and check with relevant sources of information. It will save you time, reduce stress and you will be able to get it done sooner.

And, if something doesn’t make sense, let me know so I can help.

Kind Regards,

Christopher Ward