Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

How to Score the SAT Essay: The SAT Essay Rubric

Essay   Writing   SAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoWe’ve discussed a lot on ePrep in prior posts about the new SAT Writing section it’s now mandatory component, the essay. To catch up on the topic, be sure to go back and read and watch our prior posts.

Today, I’d like to give you the actual essay “rubric” that’s used to score the SAT essay. Remember, your essay will be individually read by two qualified essay readers. Based on several factors, described in rubric below, your essay will earn a score between 1 and 6.

Score Development of Position Organization Use of Language Sentence Structure Grammar and Word Usage

No plausible position is taken on the topic; severely lacking in examples, reasons and/or evidence

Disorganized; little or no focus; incoherent

Contains fundamental vocabulary mistakes

Severely flawed sentence structure

Grammar and word usage are so poor that they interfere with meaning; very poor mechanics (like punctuation)


Position on topic is unclear or extremely limited; inappropriate examples or reasons; insufficient evidence

Poorly organized; lacks focus; problems with coherence or flow of ideas

Poor use of language; indicates very limited vocabulary and poor word choice

Frequent problems with sentence structure

Grammar and word usage mistakes are frequent and interfere with meaning; poor mechanics


Position on topic demonstrates critical thinking skill applied inconsistently; inadequate examples, reasons or evidence

Limited in organization and focus; demonstrates lapses in coherence or flow of ideas

Displays developing use of language; contains indications of weak vocabulary and poor word selection

Some problems with sentence structure; lacks a variety of sentence structures

Contains many mistakes in grammar word usage and mechanics


Position on topic demonstrates competent critical thinking skill; example, reasons and evidence are adequate

Generally organized and focused; demonstrates some coherence and attention to the flow of ideas

Displays adequate, but inconsistent, use of language; vocabulary used is generally appropriate

Good sentence structure; demonstrates some variety of sentence structure

Contains some mistakes in grammar, word usage and mechanics


Position is effectively developed through strong critical thinking skill; examples, reasons and evidence are generally appropriate

Well organized and focused; demonstrates coherence and ideas flow well

Displays competent use of language; uses appropriate vocabulary

Good sentence structure; demonstrates variety in sentence structure

Generally free of mistakes in grammar, word usage and mechanics


Position effectively and insightfully developed through outstanding critical thinking skill; examples, reasons and evidence are clearly appropriate

Well organized and clearly focused; clearly coherent and ideas flow seamlessly

Displays skillful use of language; vocabulary is accurate and varied; words are appropriately and skillfully chosen

Good sentence structure; demonstrates meaningful and skilled variety of sentence structure

Free of most mistakes in grammar, word usage and mechanics

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • digg
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Furl
  • Fark
  • blogmarks
  • co.mments
  • feedmelinks
  • LinkaGoGo
  • RawSugar
  • scuttle
  • Shadows
  • Smarking
  • Spurl
  • TailRank
  • Wists
  • YahooMyWeb