Guidelines for Assesment

Guidelines for assessment are to be read in conjunction with the Assessment and Assessment Appeals Policies, flowcharts and procedures. These guidelines are intended to support the key principles of assessment policies and procedures, including:

  • Assessment should guide and encourage effective approaches to learning.
  • Assessment should validly and reliably measure expected Unit Learning Outcomes, in particular the higher-order learning that characterises higher education.
  • The choice of assessment tasks should allow all students to demonstrate their achievement of Unit Learning Outcomes, with a variety of assessment types across the course to cater to different learning styles.
  • Assessment provides feedback to students on their learning and is the basis by which their academic achievements are judged and certified. Academic standards and the rigour of courses are central to Australian School of Accounting’s (ASA’s) assessment schemes and processes.
  • Constructive, timely and relevant feedback will be provided for all assessments except the final exams, normally within 10 working days of the assessment due date, earlier if possible. Feedback should allow students to understand where and why they have satisfied or not satisfied the marking criteria and/or rubric providing guidance for improvement.

Assessment, based on these guidelines, will be part of the induction briefing for new staff and assessment issues will be part of the regular discussion sessions for academic staff. Both the Academic Dean and Course Coordinator have a particular responsibility to monitor assessment outcomes.

Assessment weighting and workload

Units should usually have a minimum of three and a maximum of five items of assessment. This assessment workload will consist of various assessment tasks during the quadmester and in most cases, a final examination.

As a guide, the standard amount of assessment is:

  • undergraduate 10 credit point units have a total assessment of 4,000 words or equivalent
  • postgraduate 10 credit point units have a total assessment of 5,000 words or equivalent; and
  • pro rata for other credit point values.

Types of assessment

Core units taken by students in their first year must schedule at least one early low-stakes assessment so that the task has been submitted, marked and returned to the student within the first six weeks. The intention is to provide students with sufficient incentive to engage with the unit and receive early feedback in preparation for the later assessment tasks. As many students receive advanced standing, this requirement applies to key units in the first three quadmesters of the recommended sequence of units.

In the latter part of the quadmester, all units must contain one significant assessment task (weighted at least 25% of the total marks), where students are expected to research, analyse information, solve problems and/or make recommendations based on a significant component of the unit outcomes. Students are required to present their responses in a professional manner and presentation should contribute to the marking criteria. This significant piece of assessment may be individual or group work and is in addition to any final examination.

Quality assurance of examinations and major assessment tasks

All examinations and assessment material must be proofread for accuracy, clarity, validity, reliability and ease of reading.

Wording used in assessments, particularly in tests and examinations, must be clear and unambiguous and not simply be a test of the student’s proficiency in English. Avoid complex wording, jargon and colloquialisms. Students are, however, expected to know and understand the language and specific terminology of the unit.

Examination papers must be verified by another unit expert (examination checker). The examination cover sheet should be completed and signed by the examination setter and the examination checker.

Types of assessment

Online quizzes/class quizzes: no more than 15% weighting.

These tasks are also usually intended as formative assessment. Where possible, questions are randomly selected questions drawn from a pool. ‘True/false’ and ‘missing word’ questions should be avoided from all assessments. Multiple-choice questions should be carefully researched.

Mid-quadmester tests: no more than 25% weighting.

These tests will be invigilated if greater than one hour duration or the cohort of students is greater than 30.

Final examination: Owing to professional accreditation requirements the minimum weighting for final examinations in accounting is 50% and in a commerce unit 40% is satisfactory.

Examinations will be invigilated and usually of three hours in duration. Most units will have a final examination.

Questions should relate to material covered during the quadmester and aligned with the unit learning outcomes. Where appropriate, students will be permitted to bring notes in a prescribed format to examinations, so that examinations are not a test of memory but of understanding, especially in law units.

Mid-quadmester tests and final examinations: should be designed to test knowledge, use problem solving or analytical skills and/or apply theory to practical situations, with a mix of multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, problem questions requiring calculations or analysis and extended answer questions requiring the analysis of specific situations. Questions should generally range from basic standard knowledge questions to more challenging questions. Under no circumstances should there be ‘True/false’ and ‘missing word’ questions. Multiple-choice questions, if used at all, should be carefully researched and should not constitute more than 50% of a test.

The allocation of marks must be shown on the test paper. A marking guide with suggested answers and allocation of marks must be prepared. Model answers may be useful if there is more than one marker.

The placement of questions in the examination paper needs to be carefully considered. There is some research to suggest that students, when presented with more difficult questions first, tend to do less well than if presented with the same paper, but with easier questions first, even though the same questions appear in both versions.

Group work: no more than 30% weighting, unless a specific exemption has been approved by the Academic Board.

The purpose of group work should be carefully considered to make the most of opportunities for peer learning and to develop team skills. The relevance of the task should be explained to students. Assessment protocols should ensure that grades properly reflect the level of performance of each student. See “Assessing group work”.

Minimising opportunities for plagiarism

All unit outlines contain references to academic integrity and the dangers of plagiarism. Lecturers should take some time at the beginning of the unit to inform students about authorship conventions and how to avoid plagiarism and explain the value of software like Turnitin and Turnitin reports.

Plagiarism can be minimised if expectations are made clear to students at the outset, assessments are carefully designed and plagiarism is actively monitored and reported.

Variations from the guidelines

In circumstances where Course Coordinators determine that their particular unit requires variation from these guidelines, they should contact the Academic Dean as early as possible, so the assessment design can be considered and approved in sufficient time before the beginning of the quadmester.

Major variations will require the approval of the Academic Board.


Download our ASA Guidelines