What language should be featured in assessment standards for international students? Have universities adjusted their assessment methods sufficiently to match the increased demand for studying abroad? How might art and design benefit from a more stable definition of standards? These are some questions this paper seeks to address by reporting the results of recent pedagogic research at the School of the Arts, Loughborough University, in the United Kingdom. Language use is at the heart of this issue, yet it is generally overlooked as an essential tool that links assessment, feedback and action planning for international students. The paper reveals existing and new data that builds on research since 2009, aimed at improving students’ assessment literacy. Recommendations are offered to stimulate local and global discussion about keyword use for defining undergraduate assessment standards in art and design.