General Question

timtrueman's avatar

How does a computer grade the written section of the GMAT?

Asked by timtrueman (5751points) October 10th, 2009

I am curious about what the computer program is looking for when grading essays—sentence structure? Specific words and/or phrases? Do you think a computer would be more fair than a person? Is there a better option?

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4 Answers

jackm's avatar

An actual person grades those. They hire english teachers to do it and they give them a rubric to try and keep the scores as consistent as possible. They also have multiple people grade each one.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@jackm is correct—the computer does not grade the written portion. I believe they have two people grade each written portion to determine your score. From what I understand, what they are looking for is the same stuff every time, so if you take a GMAT course—even a one day one, you should be able to pull off a perfect (or very, very close to perfect) score.

A computer program would have to be ridiculously sophisticated to grade writing quality. I think there would be extreme difficulty in creating one to begin with and people would be outraged if it were implemented. Emotion is a huge part of any writing—business or not—and something without complex emotions or human psychology simply won’t react the same way to writing that people do.

nikipedia's avatar

Sorry but I have to disagree! The Analytical Writing Section is scored by two readers, and the first reader is a computer program called Intellimetrix. If these two scores differ by more than one point, a third (human) reader is called in to settle the discrepancy.

The computer is not brought in to score a given prompt until answers to that prompt have been read and scored by human readers many times. The details of how the computer program works are proprietary and it seems that the company that developed them is very concerned that they not get out, so all we outsiders know is some general ideas of how it works.

The program parses each sentence, identifying key elements of sentence structure, and measures how sophisticated the vocabulary used is. Specifically, it searches for:

(1) “surface features” such as the number of words and commas, and the average lengths of words and sentences as well as the frequency of specific types of words, like verbs and articles, and
(2) “content features,” which includes specific words or phrases and their frequency.

So this is all very general, and the company that makes these things really wants to keep it that way. For more, here’s a website about the Bayesian Essay Testing Scoring sYstem (BETSY).

davidb's avatar

@timtrueman
Don’t worry too much about the written section of the GMAT. The reasons they have you write on the GMAT are as follows:
1.) To make sure you are able to write in English
2.) To make sure your GMAT eassys are coherant
3.) To make sure there isn’t too much of a difference between the quality of your GMAT eassys and the eassys you submit to b-school. The reason for this is that many people will pay someone to write their b-school eassys.

That being said, when taking practice GMATs, you should take at least a few including doing the 2 essasy before starting the next sections of the test. The reason for this is that the 2 eassys will take you about a hour to do. You need to prepare yourself to write for 1 hr straight and then jump in and start answering GMAT questions. This is quite different than not writing any eassys prior to starting your other GMAT sections.

Good luck.

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