The ETS research department has a report about whether essays rated on desktop computers get different scores than those rated on iPads.  The result of the research: they get the same scores.

This is why I love ETS.  Most organizations would just tell the raters to use whatever they want.  ETS, though, studied the matter very carefully.  I respect that.

As always, readers will find the most interesting details buried deep in the report. 

In this case, we learn that the raters participating in the study scored GRE essays.  We also learn that they scored twenty essays in one hour.  That’s three minutes per essay… including the time needed to queue up each essay, read it, click a button to submit the score and blink a few times before moving on to the next one. The report also indicates:

The 20 essay ratings per device were only a fraction of the number of essays a typical rater would score in a day

That tracks with what I’ve heard from former ETS raters, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in print. Obviously, the time taken to score TOEFL essays could be longer, but I suspect the workflow is similar.

I don’t know if this is useful information, but it is always nice to get a peek behind the curtain.  Now and then.


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