Scoring CLEP Essays

Each institution that offers an exam with an essay decides if the institution or CLEP should score the essay.

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Essay Scoring

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

Essay Scoring Performed by CLEP

College Composition essays are reviewed by college English composition professors through the Educational Testing Service's Online Scoring Network (OSN). The OSN distributes essays securely to readers in remote locations for scoring. These scores make up 50% 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.
  • Each reader participates in an online training course and certification test before the scoring session.
  • Scoring rubrics and guidelines are designed to measure college-level skills and knowledge. 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% 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, and English Literature exams include optional essay sections, which institutions can choose to add to the multiple-choice sections.
  • Candidates respond to two essay topics, spending approximately 45 minutes on each.
  • The 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.