Scoring CLEP Essays

Essays are scored either by the institution giving the exam or by CLEP, depending on the particular test and the institution’s preference. Here’s how it works.

Essay Scoring Performed by CLEP

Essay responses scored by CLEP, such as College Composition, are reviewed by college English composition professors through the Educational Testing Service's Online Scoring Network (OSN), which distributes essays securely to readers in remote locations. The scores they apply account for 50 percent of the test-taker's overall exam score.

OSN Scoring Facts

  • Essays are scored by readers who are college faculty members, not by computer programs that search for patterns or word pairings.
  • Before the scoring session, each reader participates in an online training curriculum followed by a certification test.
  • Scoring rubrics and guidelines are designed to measure skills that institutions require of college-level students. For example, test-takers are expected to have a command of English grammar and sentence structure and to use words precisely. Essays must be organized, logically presented and include pertinent examples.
  • Each essay is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 by two separate readers. The two scores are combined and weighted to account for 50 percent of the overall composition test score.
  • The performance of the OSN over time indicates that reader reliability and scoring validity are comparable to other methods used to score test questions.

Essay Scoring Performed by Institutions

The American Literature, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, English Literature exams include optional essay sections, which institutions can choose to add to the multiple-choice sections. For these exams, candidates respond to two essay topics, spending approximately 45 minutes on each.

College Composition Modular contains approximately 90 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 90 minutes, and depending on the option chosen, two essays to be written in 70 minutes. Some colleges may opt to provide their own locally scored writing assessment.