Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

Grading Hints for Free-Response Questions

  • Start early in the year writing a free response (over a simple topic) in class and going over the rubric for it. Teaching the skill early on makes grading easier later and saves a lot of tutorial time.
  • Create a rubric with positive points when you write the question.
  • Highlight or check off correct parts of free-response answers as you grade them; this makes it easier to add up the points.
  • Grade all free-response answers at one sitting to develop a flow/pattern (this will also be fairer to the students).
  • On mathematics problems, give partial credit for
    • set up of problem;
    • correct labels;
    • correct answer with correct label and work shown clearly earns full credit; and
    • hint: look for final answer; if correct, just scan that work is present.
  • Encourage students to separate and label each section (a, b, c or i, ii, iii); this helps them organize their work and makes your grading easier and faster.
  • Go over the free-response question and rubric after grading with the entire class; this will eliminate the need to write comments on every individual paper (and save a lot of time over all).
  • Use the College Board's rubrics if you use an AP* Free Response verbatim; there is no need to 'reinvent the wheel.'
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