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Sample grade descriptors

The Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy as a guide to setting and marking assessment

Compare/ Hypothesise
contrast Reflect
Explain causes Create
Analyse Design
Enumerate Apply
Describe Predict
State Do algorithms

Misses point

Missing the point Single point Multiple Logically related Unanticipated

unrelated points answer extension

Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university (2nd ed.).Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.

Particular assessment tasks
SOLO category Overall course (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
Written essay Project Presentation Quantitative problem
Excellent Demonstrates the Well-structured essay Project or practical Well-structured and Solution to problem
Grade A ability to synthesize with clear introduction report dealing with real- accurate exposition of which goes beyond
and apply the and conclusion. Issues world ill-defined topic. material. Logical anticipated answer.
Very Good principles or subject clearly identified; clear Clear identification of development with Articulate and complete
Grade A- matter learnt in the framework for the aim(s) of the project evident depth and explanations or
course, to novel organizing discussion. report, linked to explicit complexity of argument. mathematical solution.
situations and/or in Appropriate material methodology that is Evidence of creative
E.g. novel ways, in a selected. Evidence of more sophisticated than thought and articulation
Create manner that would wide reading from many expected. Evidence of of own ideas.
Synthesise surpass the normal sources. Clear evidence wide reading from many General appearance of
Hypothesise expectation at this of sophisticated analysis sources. Rigorous resources is professional
Validate level, and typical of or innovative thinking. findings and insightful (succinct, neat layout,
Predict standards that may be conclusions. consistent style and
Debate common at higher correct citations).
Theorise levels of study or
research. Has the
Unanticipated ability to express the
extension synthesis of ideas or
application in a clear
and cogent manner.

performance on all
learning outcomes.
Generally outstanding
performance on all (or
almost all) learning

Particular assessment tasks
SOLO category Overall course (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
Written essay Project Presentation Quantitative problem
Good Demonstrates the Well-structured essay Well-structured project Well-structured and Elegant solution to a
Grade B ability to state and with a clear introduction or practical report on an accurate exposition of complex problem
apply the principles or and conclusion. open task where material, showing clear
B+ subject matter learnt in Framework exists which decisions need to be Logical development identification of the
B the course to familiar is well-developed. made about a preferred with some complexity of strategies used.
B- E.g. and standard situations Appropriate material. solution. Clear argument.
Apply in a manner that is Content has logical flow, methodology for the Evidence of creative
Outline logical and with ideas clearly design of the project. thought and some use of
Distinguish comprehensive. expressed. Clearly Good rationale for own ideas.
Analyse Has the ability to identifiable structure to decision making. General appearance of
Classify express the knowledge the argument with resources is professional
Contrast or application with discussion of differing (succinct, neat in layout,
Summarise clarity. views. consistent style and
Categorise correct citations).
Logically related performance on all
answer learning outcomes, OR
high performance on
some learning
outcomes which
compensates for less
performance on others,
resulting in overall

Particular assessment tasks
SOLO category Overall course (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
Written essay Project Presentation Quantitative problem
Satisfactory Demonstrates the Essay fairly well- Reasonably well- Satisfactory structure Solution to a multiple
Grade C ability to state and structured. Some issues structured project or and accurate exposition part problem with most
partially apply the identified. Attempt at a practical report on open of material. parts correctly solved
C+ principles or subject limited framework. task where decisions Logical development of but some errors.
matter learnt in the Most of the material need to be made about a argument.
course to most (but not selected is appropriate. preferred solution. Some evidence of
all) familiar and Introduction and However, the rationale creative thought and
Intermediate standard situations in a conclusion exists. for decision-making some use of own ideas.
manner that is usually Logical presentation may be limited. General appearance of
logically persuasive. attempted and successful resources is professional
Has the ability to in a limited way. (succinct, neat in layout,
express the knowledge Satisfactory structure to consistent style and
or application in a the argument but only correct citations).
satisfactory and limited number of
unambiguous way. differing views and no
new ideas.
performance on the
majority of learning

Particular assessment tasks
SOLO category Overall course (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
Written essay Project Presentation Quantitative problem
C Demonstrates the Essay poorly structured. Poorly structured project Satisfactory structure Correct solution to a
C- ability to state and A range of material has report or practical report and accurate exposition multiple-part problem
apply the principles or been selected and most on open task where of material. requiring substitution of
subject matter learnt in of the material selected decisions need to be Weak development of data from one part to the
the course to most (but is appropriate. Weak made about a preferred argument. next.
E.g. not all) familiar and introduction and solution. Weak rationale Some use of own ideas.
Explain standard situations in a conclusion. Little for decision-making. General appearance of
Define manner that is not attempt to provide a resources is competent
List incorrect but is clear logical structure. (neat in layout,
Solve somewhat fragmented. Focus on a large number consistent style and
Describe Has the ability to of facts with little correct citations).
Interpret express the separate attempt at conceptual
pieces of knowledge in explanations. Weak or
Multiple unrelated an unambiguous way. inconsistent linking of
points material between
Satisfactory sections in the essay or
performance on the report.
majority of learning
outcomes with one or a
few notable
weaknesses or

Particular assessment tasks
SOLO category Overall course (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
Written essay Project Presentation Quantitative problem
Supplementary Demonstrates the Poor essay structure. Poorly structured project Unclear structure and Correct answer to simple
Grade D ability to state and One issue identified and report or practical report inaccurate exposition of algorithmic problem
D sometimes apply the this becomes the sole on open task. Many material. requiring substitution of
principles or subject focus. No framework for aspects of the context Weak development of data into formula.
E.g. matter learnt in the organizing discussion. ignored or grossly argument.
State course to some simple Dogmatic presentation of simplified. Some use of own ideas. Correct solution of one
Recognise and familiar situations a single solution to the General appearance of part of more complex
Recall in a manner that is set task. This idea may resources lacks clarity problem.
Quote broadly correct in its be restated in different (in layout, consistency of
Note essentials ways. Little support from style and use of correct
Name Has the ability to state the literature. citations).
the knowledge or
Single point application in simple

Barely satisfactory
performance on a
number of learning
Fail Unsatisfactory Inappropriate or few Failure to understand the Illogical structure and Completely incorrect
F performance on a issues identified. No scope or nature of the inaccurate exposition of solution.
number of learning framework for project. Poorly written material.
outcomes, OR failure discussion and little account of work. No development of
to meet specified relevant material argument.
assessment selected. Poor structure Absence in use of own
Misses the point requirements. to the essay. Irrelevant ideas.
detail and some General appearance of
misinterpretation of the resources lacking care
question. Little logical and clarity (in layout,
relationship to the topic consistency in style and
and poor use of use of correct citations).

CLEAR, CUHK, April 2011