Marker Rebuttal
November 16, 2021

How to Contest Unfair Marker Comments Without Risk of Losing Points

How to Contest Unfair Marker Comments Without Risk of Losing Points

So, you received your long-awaited scores back for a recent assignment and you are... well... devastated.

"I worked so hard on this, I thought I did such a good job, but I got a C?!"

When you receive poor or unexpectedly low scores, there are a few possible realities here, of which you can investigate.

  1. Your work was unfairly judged by your Marker.
  2. Or your work was not as good as your thought it was and you need to seek mentorship to improve.

But, sometimes things just don't make sense to me as an experienced tutor and there is cause for concern.

I have seen this happen multiple times before and after reviewing the feedback of my students, have typically found issues or discrepancies in the markers feedback, the score received, and the quality of the work.

"How could this student receive a C for their written expression skills, this is definitely at least worth a high D"

It Is Possible You Were Unfairly Marked

An important thing to keep in mind is that your marker (who is also probably a PhD student) was likely required to review and mark over 100+ assignments over one week. There is barely 100 hours in the week, and yet, these markers are expected to judge the fate of 100's of students?

Markers will typically spend 5-20 minutes MAXIMUM reading your assignment. Which is just not feasible (trust me, I know).

This means there is huge room for human error, especially if attention is fading from mental fatigue after reading Draft #97 and your draft is Draft #98.

No wonder feedback from markers is typically vague, rushed, or sometimes completely unfair.

The good news is, you can assess this and make a plan to rebut your Marker's comments.

“But what if they threaten me and say it is possible I will lose more marks by contesting my current grade?”

Well, that is why we do not actually request a remark. We request further clarification.

 Instead, we request for more explanation and clarification on comments received from the Marker. We create a detailed document with examples of marker comments, our question or concern, and make it super specific for the unit chair to review without needing to read our entire draft from the start which would consume so much of their time.

Example of what this looks like:

[Insert screenshot of sentence / paragraph that comment relates to]

Markers comment: “this is bad”

Student query: “Can the Marker please elaborate on how this sentence is bad. It is too vague and unclear.”


Red Flags I Look for When Reviewing Marker's Comments

There are a few different things I look for when reading the comments of markers to assess if their was unfair judgement or lack of attention.

  1. Are any comments so vague or lack explanation for what exactly was wrong?
    I.e. Is it not intuitive as to what you (as the writer) actually did to deserve a negative comments?
  2. Do any comments say you failed to do something, BUT YOU DID do the thing they requested from you in their comment?

    I.e. Do their comments demonstrate a lack of observation while reading your work?

Okay, so you have spotted one or both of these RED FLAGS and you are ready to roll up your sleeves and write an angry letter to the General Manager (a.k.a. your Unit Chair). BUT, WHAT NEXT?

You cannot just go in there all guns blazing people. You need to approach this with attention to details and diplomacy.

How to Successfully Approach the Rebuttal of Your Marker's Feedback

A lot of students make the mistake of sending an angry or upset email to their lecturer or Unit Chair. WITHOUT providing any thoughtful rebuttal as to WHY they believe they deserve a higher grade.

A lack of explanation or context will typically frustrate your Unit Chair and it will come across as though you are just a disgruntled student who is upset with their mark.

Don't be like these students. Instead, follow my step by step instructions and you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Step 1.

DON'T ASK FOR A REMARK STRAIGHT UP - Never do this as it is too risky.

Approach the situation with empathetic curiosity. You want more information from your Marker so you can "better understand where your went wrong" so you can improve your writing for next time.

However, in most cases, if you provide enough solid evidence as to why their comments are not clear or seem misguided, you will automatically receive a remark and watch your score be boosted. This is most likely because the Unit Chair can immediately see there are issues and wants to resolve them ASAP.

Step 2.

Create a Word Document and create a systematic list or table format to keep all your information (i.e. criminal evidence) organised.

Step 3.

Copy / paste a paragraph or portion of text that received a negative comment.

Step 4.

Directly below it, copy / paste your marker's comment.

Step 5.

Directly below that, write your rebuttal according to the following scenarios:

  • IF you have evidence that the Marker is wrong - write a thoughtful and detailed rebuttal to your Marker's comment.
  • IF their comment is vague - request for MORE information or CONTEXT for why this section was marked down as it is not clear to you.
Step 6.

Use different coloured highlighters to demonstrate differences or discrepancies between what the marker commented and what you actually wrote as this can provide a visual way for your Unit Chair to review the issue.

Step 7.

Rinse and repeat baby!

Step 8.

Send a polite friendly email to your respective Unit Chair, requesting for further explanation or more context from your Marker regarding your feedback and grade.

Step 9.

Watch your grade move up 3 to 15 points. I ain't lying when I say I have seen this happen MULTIPLE TIMES in 2021 alone.

But of course, it is not guaranteed. Sometimes, you just want off track and your reader got lost along the way...

Which is while mentorship is so important, especially from someone who has walked in your footsteps before.

Get Psyched is a wonderful One-Stop-Shop for writing and statistics so feel free to get in touch with us via email or Facebook Messenger if you feel you need support.