Can ChatGPT Grade Essays as Well as Humans & 15 Alternatives to Try

May 13, 2024

ChatGPT is a powerful AI tool that offers many benefits to educators and best AI tools for teachers. 'Can ChatGPT Grade Essays' is a popular question that many educators are asking. By leveraging AI tools like ChatGPT, teachers can streamline their grading process. More time is left for other essential tasks like lesson planning, individual student feedback, and personal development. Teachers can also use AI-based writing tools like ChatGPT to provide more focused and accurate feedback for students.

What is ChatGPT & Its Impact on Education

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Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI-driven conversational model that generates human-like responses. Trained on large text datasets, ChatGPT is capable of mimicking natural language interactions, catering to various applications within the education sector.

AI Tools in Education

In the realm of academia, both teachers and students are embracing AI tools, including ChatGPT, to streamline tasks and enhance learning experiences. Educators are leveraging these tools for grading papers, providing feedback, developing lesson plans, and creating assignments. This adoption of AI tools is not limited to grading; teachers are using these technologies for quizzes, polls, videos, and interactive elements to enrich classroom activities.

Students, too, are relying on AI tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft CoPilot, integrated into Word and PowerPoint, to aid in their academic pursuits.

The Impact of ChatGPT on Grading

The use of AI for grading tasks depends on the nature of the material being assessed. In scenarios where the content is primarily declarative knowledge, with clear right and wrong answers, utilizing AI for grading may even outperform human grading. This approach offers consistency and efficiency in evaluating responses.

Benefits of AI in Education

Educators stand to benefit significantly from integrating AI tools like ChatGPT into their practices. These tools enable educators to save time on repetitive tasks, foster personalized learning experiences, and offer additional tutoring support outside regular class hours. AI tools can enhance the efficiency of grading tasks, providing consistent and accurate evaluations.

Revolutionizing Essay Grading with EssayGrader

EssayGrader is the most accurate AI grading platform trusted by 30,000+ educators worldwide. On average it takes a teacher 10 minutes to grade a single essay, with EssayGrader that time is cut down to 30 seconds That's a 95% reduction in the time it takes to grade an essay, with the same results. 

With EssayGrader, Teachers can:

  • Replicate their grading rubrics (so AI doesn't have to do the guesswork to set the grading criteria)
  • Setup fully custom rubrics
  • Grade essays by class
  • Bulk upload of essays
  • Use our AI detector to catch essays written by AI
  • Summarize essays with our Essay summarizer 

Primary school, high school, and even college professors grade their students' essays with the help of our AI tool. Over half a million essays were graded by 30,000+ teachers on our platform. Save 95% of your time for grading school work with our tool to get high-quality, specific and accurate writing feedback for essays in seconds. 

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Can ChatGPT Grade Essays as Efficiently as a Human?

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Compare ChatGPT’s grading capabilities against those of human teachers. Note areas where ChatGPT excels, such as speed and consistency, but also point out where it falls short, like recognizing nuanced arguments or creativity. If possible, cite studies, pilot programs, or use cases where ChatGPT or other AIs were tested against human graders. Discuss findings to provide evidence-based insights. Mention potential challenges with bias, adaptability to different writing styles, or alignment with specific rubrics:

I Tried Using ChatGPT To Grade Papers. Here’s Why It Didn’t Work.  


When I was teaching freshman composition, I had a ritual for the day after students’ final portfolios were due. I would stare at the towering pile of essays on my desk – or, later, at the long list of file submissions in the course management system – and I would read this McSweeney’s piece to myself out loud: I Would Rather Do Anything Else Than Grade Your Final Papers by Robin Lee Mozer. 

Creative Avoidance Tactics for Grading

I would rather base jump off of the parking garage next to the student activity center or eat that entire sketchy tray of taco meat left over from last week’s student achievement luncheon that’s sitting in the department refrigerator or walk all the way from my house to the airport on my hands than grade your Final Papers.

The Dread of Grading Papers

I am sure there are some writing professors who enjoy grading essays, but I was never one of them. (As Mozer says, I would rather eat beef stroganoff.) If I could outsource this task to someone else and trust that they would be able to grade the papers with consistency and attention to detail and to hold students accountable to the standards established in class, I would certainly be tempted to hand over the whole stack. Of course, giving my students’ essays to another person to grade would be unethical and probably a FERPA violation, so I never did, but I sure thought about it. 

Exploring ChatGPT as a Grading Tool

But that was before ChatGPT came along. What about using ChatGPT? That’s not a person, and I would still be overseeing the grading. Could I run students’ papers through ChatGPT and let the AI do the heavy lifting?

To cut the suspense, I’ll jump ahead to the conclusion. After testing this out, I am sad to say: No, ChatGPT cannot grade your papers for you.

Let me explain how I tested this. 

The Test: Part One, Establishing A Baseline

Because of privacy concerns, I did not want to try putting actual student writing into ChatGPT. Instead, I used the example essays from the ACT website. The ACT website provides thorough scoring criteria in addition to scored example essays, ranging from poor to excellent. This made the example essays perfect writing samples to put into ChatGPT and compare ChatGPT’s output against the ACT website’s scores.

I began by copying and pasting in the entire scoring rubric, then the writing sample prompt, and several essays, one by one. 

  • I pasted in two low-scoring essays from the ACT website. On a scale from 2 to 6, ChatGPT scored them both as 2s, the same as the website did.
  • I entered the essays provided as an example of a level-5 essay and a level-6 essay. ChatGPT gave both essays a score of 4. 
  • I asked ChatGPT to generate an essay in response to the prompt that would score a 6 based on the rubric criteria. It churned out an organized, thoughtful-sounding 6-paragraph essay.

“Now please provide a score breakdown of this essay per the rubric,” I told it.

“Certainly!” responded ChatGPT, and wrote up a score analysis of the essay 

ChatGPT’s analysis

It gave its own supposedly level-6 essay – the essay that it created just one prompt earlier following instructions to create an essay that would earn a 6 – a 5. 

I entered another essay prompt – this one from the Kaplan test prep website – and another example essay and asked ChatGPT to score them based on the same rubric criteria. It also scored this essay as a 5, which looked consistent with the scored essays on the ACT website. 

Discovering ChatGPT's Error Detection Abilities

In the feedback on the Kaplan essay, ChatGPT noted, “There are only minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics, which do not significantly impact meaning.” I was surprised; I hadn’t spotted any errors when I skimmed the essay. Curious, I asked: Could you please list the errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics from this essay? 

Evaluating ChatGPT's Accuracy in Grammar and Mechanics

ChatGPT spat out a list of 7 errors in the essay, explaining what made each error incorrect and an example of how it could be corrected. But there was a problem: None of the errors were errors, and none of ChatGPT’s explanations were correct.

So far, ChatGPT is only moderately consistent at evaluating an essay against the rubric, and completely baffling at providing specific feedback on grammar and mechanics. 

The Test: Part Two, Checking Reproducibility 

I started a new conversation with ChatGPT. (You can read the whole conversation here.) I began the same way, pasting in the ACT website’s rubric criteria and writing prompt. But then, instead of the example ACT essays, I pasted in the essay that ChatGPT wrote – the essay that it wrote after being prompted to write a 6, and then scored as a 5.

It gave its essay a 4. 

The Test: Part Three, Once More Unto The Breach 

I opened a new chat and again pasted in the rubric criteria and the prompt. (Here’s the full conversation.) Then I pasted in the level-5 writing sample from the ACT website, which ChatGPT had scored as a 4 in the first chat.

This time, it gave the essay a 3.

I tested the ACT website’s level-6 example, which ChatGPT previously also scored as a 4. This time, ChatGPT gave it a slightly higher score than the level-5 example, but still a 3. The essay ChatGPT wrote earlier as an example of a 6? It also scored a 5. Obviously, ChatGPT was struggling with consistently applying the rubric criteria. Could it be a problem of needing to calibrate ChatGPT’s assessment of what a level-6 essay would look like? 

The Test: Part Four, Calibration 

I started yet another conversation to test this. Once again, I pasted in the rubric and essay prompt. Then I dropped in the ACT level 2 and level 6 essays and told ChatGPT that these were examples of the lowest and highest scores so that it could compare additional essays against the rubric and against what constituted a top-scoring or low-scoring essay.
Then I asked it to score the ACT level 5, 4, and 3 essays. ChatGPT scored these as 4.5, 3.75, and 3.5, respectively, more closely aligned with how the ACT website rated them.

So I asked it to score the essay written by ChatGPT as an example of a 6, which you’ll recall ChatGPT elsewhere scored as a 5, a 4, and a 5. Reader, this time, ChatGPT scored its own level-6 essay at a 3. So much for calibration being the problem. 

Assessing ChatGPT's Suitability for Grading Student Papers

So, can ChatGPT be used to grade student papers? 


Nope. It is not advisable to use ChatGPT, or at least GPT-3.5 at its current capabilities 1, to grade student papers. It’s inconsistent, it finds errors where there are none, and it isn’t really doing analysis. ChatGPT is not an analysis machine – it is a language machine. It is not built to critically assess papers and provide thoughtful feedback; it is built to produce language that sounds like thoughtful feedback.

We also haven’t even dug into the student privacy concerns; the Common Sense Privacy Program gives ChatGPT a 48% rating. I would strongly advise against putting students’ work into ChatGPT, certainly not with any identifying information attached. 

How Else Can ChatGPT Be Used In The Grading Process? 

That doesn’t mean there’s no room to use ChatGPT to help you save time grading papers. One use for it is to write up coherent feedback. You can give ChatGPT a shorthand list of things you want to point out, and ChatGPT can turn that into sentences that you can give a student as feedback.

ChatGPT can also help create assignment sheets and grading rubrics. 

NOTE

I only tested this with GPT-3.5, which is the free version of ChatGPT. As of this writing, GPT-4, which OpenAI touts as being “great for tasks requiring creativity and advanced reasoning,” requires a ChatGPT Plus membership at $20/month. It’s possible GPT-4 could handle this task better; however, I suspect that the people who would like to relieve some of the burden of grading papers are not in the demographic of people who want to spend $20 a month on ChatGPT Plus.

15 ChatGPT Alternatives for Efficient Essay Grading

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1. EssayGrader

Offers a highly accurate AI grading platform trusted by over 30,000 educators worldwide. It significantly reduces essay grading time to 30 seconds, replicating grading rubrics to ensure precise assessments. Suitable for primary school, high school, and college professors.

2. Gradescope

A versatile platform leveraging AI to automate the grading system across various assignment types, including PDF, online, programming, and bubble sheet assignments.

3. Canvas

A popular Learning Management System (LMS) offering real-time assessment, automatic grading, and detailed reports for educators.

4. Quizgecko

Transforms any text into quiz questions, flashcards, and notes with automatic grading features, allowing teachers to create different question styles.

5. Zipgrade

A mobile grading app that simplifies multiple-choice test grading by allowing teachers to scan answer sheets using their devices.

6. Quizizz

A quiz platform designed for K-12 teachers, enabling them to create gamified quizzes and interactive lessons.

7. Edpuzzle

An interactive video platform that embeds questions into videos to provide instant feedback for students.

8. Wooclap

An interactive questions platform offering 20+ question types and AI-generated quizzes from any teaching material.

9. Quizlet

Generates flashcards containing terms and definitions for content mastery assessments.

10. Teachermate.ai

Utilizes GPT4 technology to provide detailed responses to student work and offers three assessment settings for fine-tuning.

11. MagicSchool

Provides over 60 tools for educators, including Rubric and Diagnostic Assessment Generators.

12. Eduaide

Offers lesson planning resources, assignment feedback, and over 100 educational resources.

13. Conker AI

Simplifies quiz creation with custom and ready-made, standards-aligned assessments.

14. PanQuiz

An app for creating real-time quizzes using AI, designed for efficient quiz creation and grading.

15. Questgen

Simplifies quiz creation with various question types across a wide range of subjects, converting text into quizzes within seconds.

Save Time While Grading Schoolwork — Join 30,000+ Educators Worldwide & Use EssayGrader AI, The Original AI Essay Grader

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EssayGrader is the most accurate AI grading platform trusted by over 30,000 educators worldwide. It dramatically reduces the time teachers spend grading essays by providing quick, accurate, and specific feedback in a matter of seconds. With EssayGrader, teachers can replicate their grading rubrics, set up fully custom rubrics, grade essays by class, bulk upload essays, and even detect essays written by AI. 

Time Efficiency

On average, it takes a teacher around 10 minutes to grade a single essay. With EssayGrader, this time is cut down to a mere 30 seconds - a staggering 95% reduction in grading time. This efficient platform ensures teachers can focus more on teaching and less on grading, without compromising the quality of feedback provided to students.

AI Capabilities

Using advanced AI technology, EssayGrader can accurately assess and provide feedback on essays across various academic levels, from primary school to college. Over half a million essays have been graded using this platform, demonstrating its reliability and effectiveness in providing comprehensive feedback to students.

User-Friendly Features

EssayGrader offers a range of features tailored to meet educators' needs. Teachers can set up custom grading rubrics, grade essays by class, and even utilize the AI detector to catch artificially generated essays. The platform's essay summarizer function allows for a quick overview of each student's work, making the grading process even more efficient.

Empowering Educators

With EssayGrader, teachers can save valuable time on grading essays while still providing high-quality, specific, and accurate feedback to students. By leveraging this AI tool, educators can streamline their grading process, facilitate more personalized feedback, and ultimately enhance student learning outcomes. 

Get started with EssayGrader today to revolutionize your essay grading process and empower your students to excel in their writing skills.

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