SAT WRITING WORKBOOK

PART IV

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YOU BE THE UMP: ESSAYS FOR EVALUATION

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GUIDELINES FOR EVALUATION

Essays are scored on a scale of 6 to 1.

Performance Categories

Score

Outstanding

6

Very Good

5

Good

4

Fair

3

Poor

2

Very Poor

1

Scores of 4, 5, and 6 reflect a level of proficiency in writing appropriate for first-year college students. Essays rated 1, 2, or 3 suggest a need for remediation. (A blank paper or a paper submitted on a topic unrelated to the prompt will be rated zero.)

No list of standards can include everything that SAT readers consider when they evaluate an essay, but the following descriptions list the main criteria. Readers are human. They try to be objective, but they must still make judgments. An essay assigned a score of 5 by one reader, therefore, may not be vastly superior to an essay given a 4 by another.

Scoring Guidelines

6   Outstanding

An outstanding essay is a well-conceived, orderly, and insightful treatment of the assigned task. The writer has fashioned a convincing main idea, amply supported by appropriate and specific details. The point of view, word choice, and use of sentences demonstrate an ability to control a wide range of elements of composition. Any errors that occur are inconsequential. Overall, the work is a model of clarity and sophistication.

5   Very Good

very good essay demonstrates the writer’s firm grasp of the assignment. It develops the main idea with purpose and conviction but may be somewhat less thorough and insightful than the best essays. It also may fall short of the mastery, sophistication, and control of composition exemplified by an outstanding essay. Nevertheless, its organization is sensible, its language and usage are appropriate, and its overall intent is clear and consistent.

4   Good

good essay deals with the topic competently. It uses conventional language and sentence structure and provides some appropriate specific examples to support the main idea. It gives evidence of the writer’s acquaintance with essay organization, coherence, and paragraph development. Some errors in word choice and awkward expression may exist, but no error seriously interferes with meaning.

3   Fair

fair essay suggests mediocrity in writing. It may adequately respond to the prompt but gives evidence of an inconsistent control of the elements of composition. Although the essay has a recognizable structure, the organization may be confusing or not fully realized. Inaccuracies or lapses in logic may weaken the essay’s overall effect. Occasional mechanical errors may detract from the essay’s meaning although they don’t necessarily obliterate communication.

2   Poor

poor essay indicates a superficial or weak grasp of the prompt. The essay’s development is meager, and its treatment of the subject is imprecise and unconvincing. The point of the essay may be perceptible, but the presentation of ideas is characterized by faulty word choice, flawed sentences, and incoherent or confused organization.

1   Very Poor

very poor essay reveals the writer’s inability to interpret the prompt. It may wander off the topic or include irrelevant or simplistic ideas. It may also be excessively brief or undeveloped. The prose may lack organization, coherence, and meaning. The writer shows little evidence of control of sentence structure or the rules of usage and grammar.