Scoring the Written Portion of the SAT

<p>I originally posted this on the Test Prep forum. Maybe the Parents forum will generate more replies:</p>

<p>Is is accurate that the graders of the writing test have the same view of the essay as is available with the scores? I am told that the essays are all scanned into a database and emailed to graders all across the country---but wanted to confirm this with the CC 'experts'. Just not sure how the grading works. </p>

<p>When DDs scores came back we were surprised at the relatively low score she'd received in writing as her prep teachers had praised her practice essays and she is normally a very sound writer. However, when we reviewed the actual essay as it was visible when scores became available online, it was clear that her writing was NOT clear!! </p>

<p>She had not written dark enough to get a good scan of the essay. I'm guessing that the graders were forced to strain to read the essay, didn't really have the time or inclination to read the faint writing and a low score was the result. Seems crazy to me that they are required to use pencil, which is not always readily visible when making copies, scans, etc.</p>

<p>Has anyone else had this experience? Does my theory seem plausible?</p>


<p>I am not the right person to ask because I am so heavily biased against the Collegeboard I will pounce on any evidence of their stupidity, but honestly, how many kids today ever write with a pencil? It's one thing to ask them to fill in a little circle with a #2 pencil (a practice they should have replaced with computers about 10 years ago) but to require that kids write an essay with a pencil is truly idiotic. </p>

<p>Does your theory seem plausible? I would believe it if you told me that the collegeboard essay grading experts received and graded a blank piece of paper as your daughter's essay.</p>

<p>hmmmm... I wonder if a blank essay would be graded higher than a very poorly written essay the same way that omitted questions produce a higher score than wrong answers.</p>

<p>Although I do not grade for the SAT, I do work for another program where we grade essay tests. I believe the general procedure for the SAT grading is similar, so maybe I can help explain it a bit.</p>

<p>For our program, yes, essays are scanned into the system and sent through software to readers around the country. The software allows us to adjust the image in various ways, making it larger or smaller, lighter or darker, depending upon the needs of each essay. As an added safety measure, any essays that are illegible are to be deferred. They will then be read by someone who actually has the test booklet in his/her hand.</p>

<p>In our program, each essay is read by two scorers. These readers have to calibrate each day to make sure they are grading accurately. If there is a discrepancy in their scores, it will be read by a third person, most likely a supervisor or more experienced reader. And blank papers are scored as blank--I assume they would get a 0. So I'm sure it is best to write something rather than leave it blank.</p>

<p>These programs really do try to provide accurate scores. Of course, mistakes are always possible, in any system, because people are not perfect.</p>