# GRE Essays Get Automated Scores—Why Not Report Them In The Test Center?

Right after you take the computer-based GRE, unofficial scores are available for Quant and Verbal but not Analytical Writing. You won’t learn how you did on the GRE’s essay section until your official scores come out about two weeks later. Yet a mere two milliseconds is enough time to score your essays with e-rater, the essay evaluation software used by ETS. So why doesn’t ETS automatically calculate an unofficial score for Analytical Writing just as it does for Quant and Verbal? The answer likely has to do with the role e-rater plays in your official GRE writing score.

E-rater has been burning through GRE essays since 2008. As of 2015, the automated scoring software has yet to assign an official Analytical Writing score. Human readers retain that job. E-rater’s role is just to provide a “check score.” Here’s how a single essay is scored:

1. Using a half-point scale of 0 to 6, e-rater and a human score your essay. If the human score falls within a half-point of the e-rater score, you’re assigned the human score.
2. Otherwise, a second human evaluates your essay using the same 0 to 6 scale, and you’re assigned the average of the human scores, rounded to the nearest half-point. (In less than 5% of cases, scoring will require a third or even fourth human rater.)

Imagine Amy and Bibi are two humans who score GRE essays for ETS. Suppose Amy gives your Issue essay a 4, and e-rater generates some score between 3.5 and 4.5. Amy’s score stands. But what if e-rater’s score equals or exceeds either 3.5 or 4.5? Bibi scores your Issue essay. Say she gives it a 5. Then your final Issue essay score is the average of 4 (Amy’s score) and 5 (Bibi’s score) rounded up to the nearest half-point—that is, 4.5. Your Argument essay is likewise scored by e-rater plus one or more humans. Your official Analytical Writing score is the average of the final scores for your two essays.

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