Update from 2023: The e-rater tool is no longer available from EdAgree.
Our friends at EdAgree have just launched another wonderful tool. If you create an account at EdAgree, you can now have your practice essays reviewed by the same e-rater technology used to grade the TOEFL test! This service is provided free of charge.
To access this opportunity, first create an account on EdAgree. This will involve answering a few questions and providing some personal information.
Once you have logged in, look for the “English Writing Practice” button the right side of the user dashboard:
Click that, and then click “start.” You can select a question prompt from the drop down menu or select “check my essay” from the bottom of the menu to just paste in your own writing. Click the clock icon and you’ll have thirty minutes to write your essay. You don’t need to use all of the time. Click “submit” when you finished.
To experiment, I pasted in one of my essays, based on a classic TOEFL prompt about using books or the Internet to do research.
My essay was immediately given a score of 98%:
That’s not a perfect score, so I clicked “detailed results” to get more specific feedback. I got a screen that looked like this:
I can click on each of those green buttons (grammar, usage, mechanics, style, organization & development) to get specific corrections and comments. In my case, the e-rater detected no grammar, usage or mechanics errors so nothing is displayed However, it did detect a “style” problem: I repeated the word “online” three times. Perhaps that is too many times! Check it out:
Next I clicked the “organization & development” button and confirmed that the e-rater could detect all of the traditional elements of an essay: background information, a thesis, main arguments, supporting details and a conclusion:
Users can also use that menu to highlight all of their transition words (I used 20) but I will let you explore that on your own.
So there you go. Some free e-rater practice, thanks to our amazing friends at EdAgree. A few things are worth mentioning here in closing:
- This is a writing tool, and it is not explicitly designed to be a TOEFL tool. Don’t use it to predict your TOEFL score. Converting the score out of 100 to a score out of 30 and calling that a TOEFL score is probably a bad idea.
- Some of the provided prompts are TOEFL prompts. Some are not. Again… this isn’t designed by EdAgree to be solely a TOEFL tool.
- The tool seems to be somewhat weak at distinguishing between background materials and a thesis statement. Sometimes it fails to detect an obvious thesis statement.
- The tool wants three sentences in the conclusion, but that doesn’t seem to affect the score.
- This is very similar to the “Criterion One” product sold by ETS.