GED Scoring Guidelines
These guidelines were supplied to me in the 1990s by an instructor for the then-extant AOL Academic Assistance Center. Jane (Teachitall@aol.com) taught GED preparation courses in her community and was a great help as I designed [a GED prep course I used to teach online]. Most standardized essay exams are graded holistically by a small committee according to guidelines like these. I have seen similar ones for statewide exams for middle school and high school,
the CLAST exam, and two community colleges in Florida and California.
The following is quoted from the Scoring Guide section of the GED Teacher's Manual.
Upper-half papers make clear a definite purpose, pursued with varying
degrees of effectiveness. They also have a structure that shows
evidence of some deliberate planning. The writer's control of the
conventions of Standard Written English (spelling, punctuation,
grammar, word choice, and sentence structure) ranges from fairly
reliable at 4 to confident and accomplished at 6.
(6) The SIX PAPER offers sophisticated ideas within an organizational
framework that is clear and appropriate for the topic. The supporting
statements are particularly effective because of their substance,
specificity, or illustrative quality. The writing is vivid and
precise, although it may contain an occasional flaw in the conventions
of Standard Written English.
(5) The FIVE PAPER is clearly organized with effective support for
each of the writer's major points. While the writing offers
substantive ideas, it lacks the fluency found in the 6 paper. Although
there are some errors, the conventions of Standard Written English are
consistently under control.
(4) The FOUR PAPER shows evidence of the writer's organizational plan.
Support, though adequate, tends to be less extensive or effective than
that found in the 5 paper. The writer generally observes the
conventions of Standard Written English. The errors that are present
are not severe enough to interfere significantly with the writer's
Lower-half papers either fail to convey a purpose sufficiently or lack
one entirely. Consequently, their structure ranges from rudimentary at
3, to random at 2, to absent at 1. Control of the conventions of
Standard Written English tends to follow this same gradient.
(3) The THREE PAPER usually shows some evidence of planning, although
the development may be insufficient. The supporting statements may be
limited to a listing or a repetition of ideas. The 3 paper often
demonstrates repeated weaknesses in the conventions of Standard
(2) The TWO PAPER is characterized by a marked lack of organization or
inadequate support for ideas. The development may be superficial or
unfocused. Errors in the conventions of Standard Written English may
seriously interfere with the overall effectiveness of this paper.
(1) The ONE PAPER lacks purpose or development. The dominant feature
is the absence of control of structure or the conventions of Standard
Written English. The deficiencies are so severe that the writer's
ideas are difficult or impossible to understand.