English Language Center

Timed Writing Calibration
(Academic and Foundations Courses)

  1. Read the rubric and become familiar with the rating scale.
  2. Review the benchmark examples for each score.

Download BenchmarkLevelText TypeContentAccuracy
  Length, Organization Functional Ability with the Langauge, Vocabulary Grammatical Complexity, Meaning
Benchmark 7 7—ready for university courses Essays may be a full page or more. Organization and transitions make writing very easy to read and understand. Able to write more complex elaborations (i.e. summaries and paraphrases dependent on task). Uses a range of general and academic vocabulary. Writing uses a variety of cohesive devices. Provides sufficient background information as evidence that the writer is generally aware of the readers’ needs. Readily understood by native readers. Excellent control of a full range of grammatical structures. Small errors in grammar, syntax, spelling or punctuation may occasionally distract a native reader, but there is no evidence of a pattern of errors. Writing is easy to read, but the writer may fail to convey the subtlety and nuances of the language.
Benchmark 6 6—ready for University Prep Multiple paragraph essays with clear organization. Appropriately uses abstract and concrete language to convey meaning. Message is pragmatically accurate for easy reading. Attempts to use cohesive devices but they may be redundant. Wide and varied general and academic vocabulary and topics. Able to use language in detail in all time frames. Control of syntax in word order, coordination, and subordination while not perfect, does not distract greatly from meaning. No or very few spelling problems. Evident use of a wide range of structures. May be a few errors with complex and infrequent grammatical structures.
Benchmark 5 5—ready for Academic B Multiple paragraphs with evidence of organizational markers on the essay level. Able to meet all practical writing needs. Favors concrete ideas and some more abstract topics may be discussed but meaning is perhaps unclear. Vocabulary is quite varied, but not to the extent of level 6. Able to use language in major time frames. There is apparent subordination, but it is more like oral discourse. Mastery of grammar with simple sentences. More complex sentences are attempted, but contain errors and may not be clear.
Benchmark 4 4—ready for Academic A Multiple paragraphs are present with organization on the paragraph level (topic sentence, supporting detail, etc.)—but perhaps not on the essay level. Writing is usually in the context of personal interests and experiences, daily routines, common events, and immediate surroundings. Concrete topics are discussed. Some examples and explanations may not be clear. Some points may not be well supported or explained. Some mastery of past narration (past progressive, simple past, etc.) with both regular and irregular verbs. Inconsistencies occur in other time frames. The majority of sentences will be shorter. Complex sentences are common and generally accurate. Problems in accuracy may occur, and the overall meaning may occasionally be obscured.
Benchmark 3 3—ready for Foundations C At least one paragraph (for 30-minute writing portion). Organization is weak with multiple paragraphs. Able to meet some limited practical writing needs—writing about personal interests and experiences, daily routines, common events and immediate surroundings. Structure and meaning are highly predictable. Usually relating to personal information or immediate surroundings. Writing exhibits a small range of vocabulary. Solid writing of short and simple conversational style sentences with basic subject-verb-object word order. Exhibits some consistent success with compound and complex sentences. Basic errors in grammar, word choice, punctuation and spelling. Most writing framed in the present. Some mastery of past narration in the simple past with regular verbs. Other time frames may be attempted with some success. However, natives used to the writing of non-natives can usually understand the meaning.
Benchmark 2 2—ready for Foundations B Simple sentences; some compound and complex sentences with repetitive structure. Lacks clear paragraph organization. Close, personal explanations with very limited vocabulary. Writers can express themselves within a very limited context. Able to write clear simple and compound sentences with limited vocabulary and conjunctions. Attempt to create some compound sentences using connectors like “because.” Writing is successful in present tense, occasional and often incorrect use of past or future tenses. Text is writer-centered.
Benchmark 1 1—ready for Foundations A Some simple sentences. Reliance on formulaic/memorized language. Exhibit accuracy when writing on well-practiced familiar topics using limited formulaic language. Sentence-level constructions. The volume of writing may be so small that it undermines the reader’s ability to evaluate accuracy, or errors occur so frequently that the purpose of the writing task may not be completely clear.
  0—ready for Foundations prep Able to supply limited information on forms and documents—i.e. names, numbers, nationality, etc. With adequate time and cues may be able to produce a limited number of isolated words. Inability to use sentence forms. Volume of writing is insufficient to assess accuracy.

Calibration and Practice

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