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How to Grade Papers More Quickly


Six Tips to Make the Grading Process Faster

Grading Papers Quickly and Efficiently

How often have you wished you could just snap your fingers and have all the grading finished??I don’t know about you, but grading papers is definitely an area where I needed to find some ways to make the process faster. Over the years, I found a few little ways to get my grading done more quickly and efficiently.These days, the use of digital assessments can make some grading faster; however, you may not be able to (or want to) use digital assessments all the time.

So, for those cases when you’re working with paper assessments, I’ve got six tips for you!

How to Grade Quickly, Tip #1: Answer Sheets

1) If you’re grading multiple choice/true or false (and aren’t planning to do any partial credit), design your assessment so students will put their letter answer in a left-hand column.
​Or, give them a separate answer sheet with answer spaces in a column.
This way, all the letters are in an organized column for you and you can quickly go down the column, comparing the answers to the answer key.

How to Grade Quickly, Tip #2: One Page at a Time

2) If you have a 2-page (or more) assessment that’s multiple choice/true or false, do all of page 1 first, then all of page 2, 3, etc. It’s a small thing, but it:

  • Reduces time flipping the answer key back and forth
  • Helps you memorize the correct answers of each page more quickly, making the actual correcting go faster

How to Grade Quickly, Tip #3: One Question at a time

Tips for grading papers more quickly

3) When you’re grading essays or open-ended questions, grade all of the same question before moving on to the next. In other words, grade all of question #1 first, then all of question #2, etc.

  • This helps you grade faster because the immediate repetition of that one question/answer helps you remember the criteria for that question more easily. 
  • If you’re giving partial credit, your criteria for partial credit for that question will also be top of mind.

Switching from one question to the next on each paper is really a form of ‘task switching,’ which has proven to be less effective in getting things done quickly.
When your mind gets ‘into’ the first question and then has to adjust to question 2, 3, etc., and then do the whole thing over again, it slows you down.

How to Grade Quickly, Tip #4: Grade when students are testing

4) Grade papers as students are finishing their assessments. There are always students who are done first, and you can easily grade any multiple choice questions on their assessments while other students are finishing up.

I always circulated when students were taking an assessment, so I’d carry a clipboard around the room with my key. As students finished, I’d grade the parts of the tests that weren’t open-ended or wouldn’t get partial credit. 

How to Grade Quickly, Tip #5: Don’t grade the entire activity

 5) If you don’t need to grade the entire activity, don’t! Choose a few questions and just grade those.When I taught writing, I’d give students “quick writes” several days a week and then choose just one of them to grade. These were short samples that gave students great practice and gave me a good snapshot of their writing without spending too much time in the grading process.

How to Grade Quickly, Tip #6: Alphabetical order

If you prefer to wait until all students finish an assessment to collect it, take a little time to collect the assessments in alphabetical order (or number order).This doesn’t make the grading part of the process go faster, but it can make recording the grades go a little faster. When assessments are in order, you don’t need to look through your grade book list for each name as you come to that student’s paper; instead you can go right down the student list and record, being careful to make sure absent students don’t get another student’s grade:-)

Want More Grading Tips?

If you want more grading tips, listen in to our podcast episode, How to Grade Efficiently with 10 Tips and Tricks!


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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