Southeast Missouri State University Wriiting Lab

Holistic Scoring: Scale

Each score in Southeast's holistic scoring scale is described on a separate Web page.  Each descriptions begins with the numerical score and a short characterization of that score. Then, each of the holistic scoring criteria are listed with a description of the level of achievement on that criterion for that score.  An asterisk indicates a criterion applicable only to Part II of the writing proficiency exam.  For scores 3, 4, and 5, the description concludes with a link to a sample essay with commentary.


While the descriptions provided indicate the characteristics of achievement at each level for each writing trait, it is important to remember that a given essay probably will not score in the same category for all criteria; an essay awarded a 5, for example, might rate a 6 on focus and a 3 on style. Test evaluators award scores on the overall impression of the writing.


6 (Clearly Excellent)

5 (Still Impressive)

4 (Adequate)

3 (Developing)

2 (Rudimentary)

1 (Incoherent)


Method | Criteria | Scale | Sample graded papers






2008 Southeast MO St. U.
Updated October 15, 2008
by Allen Gathman