Guide to the E-rater and the AWA
Chapter 1:
AWA Introduction

Chapter 4: About the E-rater

What the E-rater Grades

     The E-rater is a distant cousin of the search engine robots that scan content of web sites to determine how relevant they are to search terms (such as that used by Alta Vista or the "concept searching" Excite search engine). The E-rater will read your essays and look for phrases that indicate competent reasoning.

     The E-rater uses a stored battery of hundreds graded essays for each of the 280 essay questions. The E-rater has sample 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 score essays for each topic. The E-rater will evaluate your essay in terms of the stored essays in the E-rater's database. If the essay you wrote resembles the stored "6" essays in the E-rater's database, you will get that score. If your essay better resembles the "5's" in the E-rater's memory, you will get a "5" from the E-rater.

     That is why it is so important to read the 20 sample essays we have. You will see how well written arguments are structured and you will learn the proper style necessary to impress both the E-rater and the human grader.


What the E-rater doesn't grade

     The E-rater cannot detect certain things, such as humor, spelling errors or grammar. It analyzes structure through using transitional phrases, paragraph changes, etc. It evaluates content through comparing your score to that of other students. If you have a brilliant argument that uses an unusual argument style, the E-rater will not detect it.

     The E-rater does, however, detect spelling and grammar indirectly. If your transition phrases and logical identifiers (e.g.- "therefore", "for example") are not properly spelled the E-rater will not detect them. Since the E-rater uses the presence of such transitional phrases as an indicator of effective writing, you are indirectly penalized if they are not spelled correctly.

Articles about the E-rater:

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>>continue to About the E-rater: Why the E-rater (page 2 of 3 of chapter 4)

Chapter 2:
Analysis of Issue
Chapter 3:
Analysis of Argument
Chapter 4:
About the E-rater
Strategy Changes
Chapter 5:
Improving Your Writing
Chapter 6:
Real Essay Questions
. .

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