Mark schemes in knowledge-based qualifications

In early 2018, Qualifications began working with AlphaPlus consultancy to produce a good practice guide on mark schemes. We're now very pleased to be able to publish this interactive guide for the first time.

The main purpose of the Guide is to support qualifications developers and assessors when designing, developing and reviewing mark schemes. It is not a regulatory document but is intended to be helpful to awarding bodies and to complement their existing qualification development processes.

It is designed to be a practical, interactive tool which will help qualifications developers and assessors to consider some of the key principles that underpin different types of knowledge-based mark schemes. It also identifies some of the key issues with mark schemes that can affect the validity and reliability of an assessment.

The guide is primarily designed to be used onscreen as an interactive PDF but can also be printed and used as a paper-based document.

The content within the guide has been informed by a research report by AlphaPlus into the features of effective mark schemes in knowledge-based qualifications. The full report is available below.

We plan to carry out a review of the content and functionality of the Mark Scheme Guide after awarding bodies have had the opportunity to use the guide for a period of time. However, in the meantime, if you have any feedback on the guide, please let us know by emailing


To experience optimal functionality of this interactive guide, we recommend that you view it in Firefox browser or Adobe Reader.