Free Essay Scoring

SAT® Essay Writing Scoring for the Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy Now Powered by Turnitin

Nearly seven million students took either the SAT® or PSAT/NMSQT in the 2015-2016 school year.1 Of those test takers, 2.5 million prepared for the SAT exam using an innovative program that was launched by the College Board and Khan Academy in June of 2015.

Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy – developed through a partnership with the College Board and Khan Academy – supports and reinforces what students are learning in the classroom by helping them focus on the knowledge and skills essential for college readiness. All students can access, at anytime and anywhere, free, personalized practice for the SAT based on their performance on the PSAT/NMSQT or previous SAT results.

As part of the practice program, students also have the chance to take six full-length practice exams that include the optional essay–two of which are automatically scored using Turnitin Scoring Engine, right now. Never before have students been able to practice and prepare for the essay portion of the exam and get both immediate as well as consistent scores back.

Score consistency is important, because the accuracy of the score speaks to its relevance for helping students improve. Incorrect scoring can lead to improper preparation. Likewise, accurate scores can help guide students to better writing.

Turnitin Scoring Engine® is more than just a scoring program. Most essay scoring systems consider only text complexity (length of sentences and words) to assess student writing. Scoring Engine looks not just at complexity, but also at the substance of the writing, assessing students ability to read, analyze, and write. This is what the SAT essay portion is really intended to assess.

Looking ahead, students will be able to not only receive scores for their essays, they will also be able to engage in targeted practice with specific and actionable feedback. This formative feedback will be provided through Turnitin Revision Assistant®, another Turnitin program that leverages the same technology that powers the essay scoring, but towards the goal of providing feedback and not just a score.

The key to writing success is practice and timely, actionable feedback. Revision Assistant was designed to specifically address this need. Evlyn, a student in New York, said: “It bettered my writing. When I see feedback, it helps me.” 

Revision Assistant will also be integrated into the Official SAT Practice and give students a chance to get feedback that will support their essay writing preparation.
Providing both Turnitin Scoring Engine and Turnitin Revision Assistant within the Official SAT Practice program gives students the chance to improve their writing–the one factor on the SAT that has been highlighted as the “best indicator of academic success.”2

With the College Board and Khan Academy, Turnitin recognizes and supports writing success, whether to prepare students for a test, for the classroom, or for their futures overall.

More information:
Turnitin Integrates Formative Writing Tools into College Board Programs to Support Student Practice (Press Release) 
Turnitin Scoring Engine is available on a customized basis for writing assessment needs.
Turnitin Revision Assistant is available as a standalone program and also available as part of the College Board’s SpringBoard®, a comprehensive 6-12 math and English instructional program.


How do I score my GRE essay?

Plenty of students want to improve their writing, and the only real way to do so is writing, and writing a lot.

But there is a catch-22 here: how do you improve your writing if you aren’t a good writer? How can you identify places to improve if you don’t know what needs improvement? How can you identify an error if you commit the error? These are all valid concerns, but trust me, you just need to start writing.

But we won’t send you out to sea without a life vest. We now have an essay rubric that breaks down the four aspects of writing that count towards your score—Quality of Ideas, Organization, Writing Style, and Grammar & Usage.

If you don’t know what those are now, you will soon. Each column represents one aspect of writing and each row represents a level from 0 to 6. Each cell of the rubric describes a specific aspect of writing at a specific level.

Download the Magoosh Essay Rubric (you can also download the printable PDF by clicking the image below) and get started!

How to Use the GRE Essay Grading Rubric

After completing the essay, you’ll need to check the four aspects of your writing. Even better, ask a friend to look over the essay and provide you a score. Give each aspect of your essay a score ranging from zero to six.

Total all four scores and find the average. Now you have a sense of your writing score. Round scores up as follows: Round a score of 4.25 to 4.5 and a score of 3.75 to 4.

Of course evaluating your own writing will be hard if you don’t know what to look for, but this is a perfect time to improve and practice. Taking a break between writing your essay and evaluating it will help to give you a more objective eye. Also, reading the essay aloud will help you to hear errors.

If you are unsure about your style, grammar, and usage, plug your essay into the Hemingway App. This is not a perfect piece of software, but it’s better than nothing and will catch a lot of grammar and usage errors.

Quality of Ideas:

  • Are the ideas creative, compelling, and relevant?
  • Did you use an expected, typical example?
  • Did you talk about two sides of the issue or just one?
  • Were you attacking the major components of the argument or just the minor ones?
  • Were the reasons feasible, believable, and relevant to the topic?



  • Is there an introduction and conclusion?
  • Does the response flow from paragraph to paragraph?
  • Are there a lot of structure words to guide the reader, such as “for example,” “first,” or “further”?
  • Is it easy to find the main idea of a paragraph and determine what the specific details supporting that idea are?
  • Is it easy to understand the development of an idea and how it relates to the passage as a whole?


Writing Style:

  • Are there a mix of short sentences and long sentences?
  • Are there a variety of sentence structures—simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex?
  • Are the same words often repeated or are there a lot of synonyms and rephrasing?
  • Are the sentences easy to read?
  • Can the reader understand the ideas in a sentence?
  • Do readers have to re-read a sentence multiple times to understand it?


Grammar and Usage:

  • Are there misspelled words?
  • Are the lists and comparisons parallel in structure?
  • Are there any subject-verb agreement errors or pronoun-antecedent errors?
  • Are there any run-on sentences or sentence fragments?
  • Are commas, dashes, and semi-colons used correctly?
  • Are there any modification problems—dangling modifiers or ambiguous ones?


Go to the Source

All the information that you see in our rubric is based on information published by ETS. If you need sample essays at different score levels or want to read more about the AWA and how it is graded, I highly recommend reading through An Introduction to the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE.

This is a long document and contains a lot of detail. If you want to see the different scoring level descriptions used to create our rubric, here they are:

I recommend taking the time to become familiar with the difference between a “3” essay and a “4” essay. To truly become a better self-grader, or to even become a better grader for someone else, you need to become more familiar with the particular grading requirements of ETS.



If you don’t know a lot of the phrases and questions above, you’ll have a lot of practice and learning to do. But better to do it now, then wait until you have to write a paper in your grad school class.

Most people fired from a job aren’t surprised. They know where they have slacked and why they lost their job. I am sure that you can read your writing and know that there are problems (or that everything is great). I hope the rubric gives you a little more traction for evaluating your writing so that you know what you need to work on to improve.


Note: Some students might wonder why the rubric is for the GRE and GMAT. Both test evaluate essays in the same way, so the rubric will work for either test. 🙂


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