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Which Hat Should You Wear?

As a teacher, you may find it very easy to fall into the trap of trying to do two things at the same time: holistically score a paper for the Official Practice Test and analytically assess the paper to help the student improve his/her writing. Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways. You have to decide on the purpose for scoring the essay.

  • Why score holistically?
    If you are scoring an essay for the purpose of determining a likely score on the Official GED Practice Test, you should score holistically. Likewise, if you have been working with a student for a period of time and want to make an overall assessment of his/her progress on essay writing, you should score holistically. Holistic scoring gives you a single, overall impression of the student’s ability.
  • Why give analytic feedback?
    If you are trying to help a student improve his/her writing, take an analytic approach to the essay. Analytic assessment allows you to give the student specific feedback that he/she can use to improve performance.

Put simply—holistic scoring allows you to give an overall impression of a piece of writing, while analytical assessment helps you pinpoint areas of weakness for instructional purposes.

But a word of caution: Don’t overwhelm the student by pointing out every problem or error. Focus the student’s attention on one or two issues or patterns of error at a time.