31st March 2021

Using spreadsheets to track papers? The dangers!

Using spreadsheets to track papers? The dangers!

If you’re an awarding body, you may be using spreadsheets to manually track exam papers out for marking. At first, a spreadsheet seemed like a good choice; they’re quick and easy to set up, and they don’t require loads of IT support.

They may seem quick to update, but in the long run they make tracking papers more difficult to manage. They’re laborious and in some cases they’re unsafe.

Manual tasks also have a higher risk of human error; all it takes is the wrong input (or a computer error) and candidate data could be lost. Resulting in papers being lost and never marked.


What are the risks?

The risks are large and wide-ranging. These can include:

  • Security vulnerabilities – Despite being easy to share with colleagues, they’re hard to protect. Data breaches could cost you fortunes.
  • Too much manual effort – Every change to a paper’s status (whether that’s the mark, the due date, who’s marking it, etc) must be manually entered. Reporting is a manual job too, so once you’ve inputted all the data yourself, you have to extract it manually to share it with your team.
  • Out of date – Tracking needs to be up to date every time you look at it. Without real time data, you can’t get an instant snapshot of the entire process. You need data that is in real time so you know which people to follow up, right away. Which papers are overdue? Who has been that paper been allocated to? It’s easy for data or updated to fall through the cracks and papers are left in an unmarked black hole.
  • Errors! – Almost 9 out of 10 spreadsheets have errors that affect results. (source) That might seem unbelievable, but with so much human input, a high probability of errors is likely.


Is there a way to automate this process?

Yes, there is!

The great news is, question paper marking has gone digital, thanks to eMark.

eMark is a 100% digital platform that solves all these problems and computes complex logistical challenges.

PSP built the clever tool alongside a global health and safety qualification-awarding body. They were experiencing challenges with tracking spreadsheets and outdated methods to distribute papers to examiners.

eMark handles the tiresome tasks for you, so you don’t have to. Making your working life so much easier.

The 100% digital tool:

  • Automates your entire marking process
  • Saves on operational costs
  • Automatically distributes papers to examiners based on set criteria
  • Tracks the progress of every paper
  • Alerts you to overdue papers
  • Eliminates the need to manually update spreadsheets and hunt down overdue papers
  • Features an examiner dashboard with papers, marking criteria, holidays, marking guides and fully-customisable


To find out more about the clever tool, watch this short video:



To book a free demonstration, contact us today. Email sales@psp-it.co.uk or call 01775 722377.


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