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
    (1964-1969)
  • Stanford University
    (1969-1984)
  • Princeton University
    (1988-2003)

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
    (1966-1977)
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    (1977-1987)
    International Office Director
    (1987-2002)

How to Score the SAT Essay: The SAT Essay Rubric

Essay  SAT  Writing
Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep videoThe SAT Writing includes a mandatory hand-written essay.  Today, I’d like to give you the actual essay “rubric” that’s used to score the SAT essay. (See below.)  Remember, your essay will be scored by two qualified essay graders. Based on the rubric below, each grader will score your essay on a 1-6 scale.

Score Development of Position Organization Use of Language Sentence Structure Grammar and Word Usage
1 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)
2 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
3 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
4 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
5 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
6 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
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