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Robo-Reader Report

In one of the weirdest turn of events over the past few years, the Graduate Management Admissions Council announced that essays on the GMAT are now also graded by a robot! We know that this sounds like something out of Weekly World News, but it's actually true. The GMAC got sick of spending all their weekends holed up in some stuffy boardroom reading thousands of essays so they're shuffling off the work to a computer... sort of.

The GMAT essays used to be read by two graders. They would each read the essay independently and come up with a score. If they disagreed significantly on the score, a third grader would be brought in to settle the matter (No not a Third-Grader! They haven't resorted to that yet...). Now they're replacing one of the first two graders with a computerized essay reader (and you didn't think they existed!). The scores will again be compared, and if there's a dispute, a second human would be brought in to be the judge.

The essays are scored by both the computerized reader and the human scorer on a scale of 0 to 6. The final score is determined by combining them into a single score. The GMAC has announced that the computerized and human graders agree on the essay score over 95% of the time!

GMAC acknowledges that a standardized test is only an estimate of the test taker’s ability, and that it is impossible to achieve a perfect analysis. However, they have gone to great lengths to standardize their scoring procedures. GMAC is confident that GMAT scores will be reliable and valid. Computerizing the procedure is a way to standardize scoring for the essay portion of the GMAT.

It all seems a little strange, but what does it mean to you? Well, more than ever, it means an essay which looks good will score higher. The computer will not be able to assess what you thought you meant so making sure that your essay is neat and well-structured will be very important.

You certainly should not worry about this change, just be aware that the scoring practices have changed. The computerized scoring system has been well tested, and there is always a human reader who will ensure that you get the score you deserve.