Wondering about the new SAT essay scoring rubric? We’ve got that, and more!
It’s a fact of academic life that you need to write essays. You’ve done it in high school and you’ll write even more in college. Unless you’re in a creative writing class – and sometimes even then – you’ll be given directions about the format and general topic of the essay, and how well you follow those directions counts in your grade. The same thing applies to the SAT essay. It’s optional, as you know, but we encourage you to write it for some really good reasons; see Should I take the New SAT Essay for more about those reasons.
While your high school and college essays are probably read and graded by the teacher or teaching assistant, your SAT essays are read and scored by professionals who are trained to assess the essay in terms of exactly what the SAT is looking for in a good essay. There’s nothing ambiguous about the scoring criteria; the SAT has it down to a science.
SAT readers/scorers are generally high school or college teachers with experience in reading and grading essays. They’re thoroughly trained, have to pass tests to qualify as SAT readers, and once certified, are expected to absolutely conform to the scoring rubric—no personal opinions, no comments—just a number score from the rubric. Two scorers read each essay and if their scores diverge too much, a third reader scores it as well. Each reader gives a score of 1-4 for each of three criteria, the two scores are added, and the student gets three essay scores ranging from 2-8, one for each criterion.
So what are the criteria that readers so rigidly follow?
New SAT Essay Scoring Criteria
- Demonstrates little or no comprehension of the source text
- Fails to show an understanding of the text’s central idea(s), and may include only details without reference to central idea(s)
- May contain numerous errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text
- Makes little or no use of textual evidence
- Demonstrates some comprehension of the source text
- Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) but not of important details
- May contain errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text
- Makes limited and/or haphazard use of textual evidence
- Demonstrates effective comprehension of the source text
- Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and important details
- Is free of substantive errors of fact and interpretation with regard to the text
- Makes appropriate use of textual evidence
- Demonstrates thorough comprehension of the source text
- Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and most important details and how they interrelate
- Is free of errors of fact or interpretation with regard to the text
- Makes skillful use of textual evidence
- Demonstrates little or no cohesion and inadequate skill in the use and control of language
- May lack a clear central claim or controlling idea
- Lacks a recognizable introduction and conclusion; does not have a discernible progression of ideas
- Lacks variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive; demonstrates general and vague word choice; word choice may be poor or inaccurate; may lack a formal style and objective tone
- Shows a weak control of the conventions of standard written English and may contain numerous errors that undermine the quality of writing
- Demonstrates little or no cohesion and limited skill in the use and control of language
- May lack a clear central claim or controlling idea or may deviate from the claim or idea
- May include an ineffective introduction and/or conclusion; may demonstrate some progression of ideas within paragraphs but not throughout
- Has limited variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive; demonstrates general and vague word choice; word choice may be repetitive; may deviate noticeably from a formal style and objective tone
- Shows a limited control of the conventions of standard written English and contains errors that detract from the quality of writing and may impede understanding
- Is mostly cohesive and demonstrates effective use and control of language
- Includes a central claim or implicit controlling idea
- Includes an effective introduction and conclusion; demonstrates a clear progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay
- Has variety in sentence structures; demonstrates some precise word choice; maintains a formal style and objective tone
- Shows a good control of the conventions of standards written English and is free of significant errors that detract from the quality of writing
- Is cohesive and demonstrates highly effective use and command of language
- Includes a precise central claim
- Includes a skillful introduction and conclusion; demonstrates a deliberate and highly effective progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay
- Has a wide variety in sentence structures; demonstrates consistent use of precise word choice; maintains a formal style and objective tone
- Shows a strong command of the conventions of standards written English and is free or virtually free of errors
- Offers little or no analysis or ineffective analysis of the source text and demonstrates little to no understanding of the analytical task
- Identifies without explanation some aspects of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing
- Numerous aspects of analysis are unwarranted based on the text
- Contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made, or support is largely irrelevant
- May not focus on features of the text that are relevant to addressing the task
- Offers no discernible analysis (e.g., is largely or exclusively summary)
- Offers limited analysis of the source text and demonstrates only partial understanding of the analytical task
- Identifies and attempts to describe the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing, but merely asserts rather than explains their importance
- One or more aspects of analysis are unwarranted based on the text
- Contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made
- May lack a clear focus on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task
- Offers an effective analysis of the source text and demonstrates an understanding of the analytical task
- Competently evaluates the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or features of the student’s own choosing
- Contains relevant and sufficient support for claim(s) or point(s) made
- Focuses primarily on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task
- Offers an insightful analysis of the source text and demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the analytical task
- Offers a thorough, well-considered evaluation of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or features of the student’s own choosing
- Contains relevant, sufficient, and strategically chosen support for claim(s) or point(s) made
- Focuses consistently on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task
The essay components are Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Reading refers to how well you demonstrate understanding of the text; analysis covers how well you examine the structure and components of it, and writing, as you might expect, assesses your ability to write clear, correct, and cohesive prose.
There’s a lot of detail under each score, but note that for reading, the scores go from the highest, “thorough,” (4) to the lowest, “little or no comprehension” (1). In the middle are “some” and “effective,” scores of 3 and 4 respectively, and probably where most students score. More or less the same scale, with different words, also applies to analysis and writing. It’s worth reiterating that SAT readers are held exactly to this scale and the specific breakdown under each score.
Now here’s a question for you. How long do you think each reader is expected to spend on reading, assessing, and scoring the essay? The answer is a minute or two. What does that mean for you? You’ll have to know and follow directions, read the text with structure and the writer’s elements in mind, think clearly, and write strongly from the very beginning. That’s quite a challenge, but keep checking in this blog site and we’ll give you some really good tips about meeting the challenge and writing a essay with the winning score of 8-8-8.
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GED test scores are important to your educational future. Understanding your GED scores are just as important! Read our post to deepen your understanding of the scoring rubric used by current GED exams.
GED score history
Back in 2014, the entire GED test (scores included) got a few updates. GED Testing Service gave the current GED test to a national sample of high school graduates. As a result of their performance, the three GED scoring levels we use today were established.
Understanding the GED test
First of all, to truly understand the GED scoring rubric, it is especially helpful to know what is on the GED test. The entire GED consists of four different subjects; reading, math, science and social studies. Various types of questions gauge your ability to demonstrate skills necessary for college or employment.
Each content area test measures the same abilities; analyzing information, critical thinking and problem solving. Subject tests are formulated to ensure that scores accurately reflect the academic skills of the test-taker.
Understanding how the test is scored
Another important aspect of understanding scoring is to realize that GED exam scoring is completely automated! A computer even grades the written response items in RLA and Science. GED Testing Service uses an Automated Scoring Engine (ASE) to replicate the human scoring process.
While it may seem that a computer might not be the best choice to grade written responses, the ASE has accurately scores test items and provides efficient feedback to test-takers for years.
Understanding the scoring rubric
GED test scores are divided into three categories. Each level provides a range of academic mastery and indicates how prepared you may be for the rigors of college-level courses or future employment.
GED test points range from 100 to 200 for each subject. You must score at least 145 on each individual subject and an overall total of 580 or higher in order to pass the GED. Test scores are divided into three levels. Each level indicates a different range of student ability and college readiness.
- GED Passing Score: score of 145-164
A score at this level means you passed the GED! Your score shows that you attained a high school equivalency credential and have the same educational skill set as a graduating high school senior.
- GED College Ready: score of 165-174
Not only have you successfully passed the GED, your score level indicates that you have the skills needed to enroll in your first year of college courses. According to the GED testing service, your scores may relieve you from taking certain placement tests or remedial courses in college.
- GED College Ready + Credit: 175-200
This score indicates that you may be eligible to earn college credits, and have demonstrated skills that are taught in college-level courses. Depending on the college or program you enroll in, you may be eligible to receive additional credits in Math, Science, Social Studies and/or Humanities. Get an American Council on Education credit recommendation to determine if you qualify.
Understanding the importance of GED scores
GED Testing Service equates a passing score (145-164) score with earning a high school degree. A score of 145 indicates a student passed the GED, but still might not be academically ready for college-level courses. Genuine college readiness requires exceeding high school exit standards, not just meeting them.
The GED measures more than just academics! GED exams test critical thinking skills, deductive reasoning and concept application. Your score reflects how well you demonstrate these skills during testing. GED scores are more than just a number. They tell the story of who you are as a learner.
Because GED scores tell so much about a student’s capabilities, colleges and employers use them to predict how well students might perform in future classes or assignments. The higher your score, the more educational or employment-based opportunities may be available to you.
Low GED scores
A GED test score of 144 or below on any test subject means you must retake that portion of the test. Although every state has it’s own regulations for retaking GED subject tests, most do not require you to re-test subjects you already passed. Check with your state for current policies on retaking the GED.
If you do need to retake a test, don’t get discouraged! Almost 40% of GED test-takers fail the exam at least once. Although it may seem disheartening, use this as an opportunity to review your educational plan and see where you can improve!
GED scores and continuing your education
According to GED Testing Service, around 60% of all GED graduates earn their diploma so that they can pursue a college education. If you are a student who is continuing their education, congratulations on taking an important step in your academic career!
In addition to your transcripts, college or scholarship applications may require a GPA or class rank in order to apply. Because of the nature of the test, GED scores cannot be directly translated into GPA or class rankings. However, GED Testing Service provides a chart that aligns GED test scores with class rankings of graduating high school seniors.
GED graduates with test scores of 175 or higher may also want to check out American Council on Education (ACE) credits. Refer to the list of institutions to see if your college participates in the ACE program. You may be eligible to receive additional credits just because of your test scores!
Now that you understand the scoring rubric behind your GED test scores, what will you do next? Visit the College & Careers section of your MyGED dashboard. Take a free career assessment or get assistance with college planning!
About Beth Gonzales
Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.
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