Essay Writing Assessment Tools

Written work

The most common forms of written assessment are essays and essay based exams. Other forms of written assessment include lab reports, dissertation, reflective diaries, portfolios, and case studies.

Written assessments can cause difficulties for many different students including:

  • students with specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) who may have difficulty with spelling / grammar or structuring essays,
  • students learning through a second language who may have difficulty with spelling / grammar and academic writing,
  • students with significant external responsibilities, certain disabilities, or personal pressures, who may have difficulties with organisation and time management.


Guidelines for Inclusive Written Assessments


  • Consider what you wish to assess.
  • Consider whether there is a mismatch between what you intend to assess and what you do assess.
  • Ensure students understand what you are assessing.

For further details see: Written Work: What am I Assessing?

  • Ensure students are given the following information in plain, jargon free, language, at the beginning of the academic year:
    • assessment deadlines,
    • referencing style used,
    • expected essay length,
    • grading criteria,
  • Where finalised, ensure students are given access to programme and module learning outcomes. Explain the relationship between outcomes and assessment to your students.
  • Annotate reading lists to allow more focused, effective, reading.

Inform students of the following study and research skills:

  • the purpose of essay writing on your course
  • strategies for essay production, including the creation of essay plans and drafts, the importance of recording citations as they go along, and the importance of proof-reading essays before submission,
  • How to use the Dewey Decimal System and find library books,
  • How and why to reference,
  • What style of writing to use on the assignment.For example, bullet points may be acceptable in lab report writing but not in essay writing.
  • How to structure and present an essay.

Study skills tutorials may be useful. You can also inform your students of theLearning Support and Development Service, where they can go for additional individual support.



  • Seek to offering a range of assessment methods. This will reduce the writing requirement and allow students to display their understanding and knowledge by alternative means. Consider using presentations, posters, practicals, debate, viva voces etc.


Submission mode:

  • Allow for electronic submission of assignments where possible. These are helpful to students who have trouble accessing working printer and those with mobility difficulties.
  • If using Turnitin or another computer application, make sure students know how to use it, and know where to go for help if stuck. Some students, especially mature students, may have very limited computer literacy on entry.


Writing an assessment essay involves completing a critical analysis of something or someone else.  Since you may be learning how to write an assessment essay on someone else's writing, it's important that you keep such in mind as you read through the person's essay.  Then, if any part of the report stands out to you or causes you to ask questions in your mind, make note so that it can possibly be included in your document later.

As you read through the report, there are several questions you should have in the back of your mind and that you should be trying to answer.  Some of these questions include:

  • What is the purpose?
  • What are the counterarguments to the points the writer is making?
  • How effectively is the writer using information that's known about the subject?
  • How well has the writer organized the material?
  • Are there any aspects of the essay that should have more detail or be supported with further evidence?

If the report you're assessing is one that was completed by a classmate in response to material covered in class, you should also be looking to see if the writer has included information that has been discussed in the class.

With these questions all in mind, you should read through the report quickly at first.  When you run across parts of the essay that you think are particularly good, make note of them.  Similarly, if some areas are weak or require further evidence, make notes of these sections, as well.  In addition, make notes of the parts of the report you found to be the most engaging as well as the parts you found to be more boring.

After your quick read-through, read through the report at a slower and more careful pace.  As you re-read assessment essays, try to formulate reasons for the way you have responded to the document.  In addition, try to determine what the author might have done in order to improve upon the report or to better convince you of his/her viewpoint.

Now that you have a clear idea of your views on the report, you can begin the actual writing process.  The first paragraph of your assessment essay is the introduction.  Here, you'll introduce the reader to the work that you're about to discuss while also presenting your thesis statement.  Your thesis statement is the one sentence that tells the reader what the rest of the report will be about.  All subsequent sentences and paragraphs will then serve to support this thesis.

The paragraphs that follow the introduction paragraph comprise the body of your document.  First, you should briefly summarize what the original essay was about.  This summary usually should only require one paragraph, as it's meant to provide the reader with only a brief overview.  The remaining paragraphs of the body should discuss your analysis of the report while providing reasons for your viewpoint.

Finally, your last paragraph will be the conclusion.  Here, you should restate your thesis in a manner that's different from the introductory paragraph.  You should also summarize your views without introducing information that wasn't already previously discussed in the body.

Career Research Paper

As part of many career exploration classes, high school students and beginning college students are often required to complete a "career research paper" (which usually requires the student to complete a career assessment).  Such an assignment might require the student to research and write about his/her "dreamjob" or study a career that's completely different from any career he/she might have previously considered.  Some instructors even require learners to literally pick a career from a basket so that students have no choice but to present a career research paper on a career with which they may be completely unfamiliar.

When completing career research papers, it's important to explore not only the basics of the career, but to also consider interviewing someone who holds a position within the career itself.  This helps give a comprehensive picture of the career topic.  Career research papers are set up similar to any other academic paper, but generally contain somewhat different information.

A career research paper needs an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  In the introduction, the student should introduce the career topic and perhaps discuss why the topic was selected.  If the career topic was selected by the student, the introduction might include why the student desires to work in that career.

The body of the document should contain one or two paragraphs of information on the education needed to enter the career, the income range of people who work in the career, and other basic demographic information.  The report should have at least one paragraph that reflects the experiences of an individual who works in the career being explored.  At least one paragraph can be devoted to why the career appeals to the student.  All together, a one-page report should have three body paragraphs.

The conclusion should summarize one highlight from each of the paragraphs and should provide a solid ending to the document.  Career research papers are a great tool to help students who don't yet have a career goal in mind begin thinking about what educational path they want to take.  Career research papers can also help students explore careers for which they might be suited, but which they haven't yet considered.  Finally, career research papers are a tool which can help a student fine tune his/her career selection into a particular field.

Career Assessment Essay

The journey from student to eventual career individual often includes a great deal of career assessment.  Whether a student incorporates self-assessment as a part of his/her own career exploration or uses formal career assessment essay tools, few individuals make the transition without thorough soul-searching and goal-setting.  Although many children dream of becoming a fireman or ballerina, more careers are realized through solid career assessment essays and exploration than the dreams of a child.

Career assessments begin with a general interest in a particular field.  Interest is followed by aptitude, which is eventually incorporated with education and experience to form a solid career guide.  Formal career assessments, such as quizzes or inventories, are designed to combine interest with aptitude to give students a snapshot of what their ideal career would be.  The goal is to ensure that students have the combination of traits that have proven successful for individuals in their chosen career.

It is important to consider that a career assessment, whether it's formal or informal, isn't a final indication of what any person should choose for a career.  It makes sense that an individual who wants to be a ballerina but who has no aptitude for dancing should consider a different career goal.  But, if a student has a desire to explore a certain career and he/she has the drive to work hard to achieve his/her career goals, then that student should definitely work toward those goals.  A career assessment is merely intended to be a starting point.

Formal career assessment essays are designed to get students thinking about the future.  Most students take their first formal career assessments in high school.  Many students are also required to complete a career assessment course as a part of many first-year college program requirements.  However, informal career assessment begins long before college and continues long after graduation.

Most people incorporate informal career assessment essays as a part of their continuing career strategies.  Smart workers evaluate their careers frequently and rethink their career goals whenever necessary.  The simple fact is that a rewarding career is rarely static.  The best careers are those that are constantly changing in scope and requirements.  Smart individuals take the steps necessary, from continuing education to seeking new positions, to ensure that they continue to experience a rewarding and satisfactory career until they elect to retire.  A career assessment is a smart tool for any student, worker, or career-seeker to incorporate into their arsenal of career-planning strategies.

Job Essay

There are some jobs in which applicants will have to write assessment essays in order to be hired for the job.  For example, if an individual would like to become a teacher, the individual will have to complete a job essay about why he/she wishes to be a teacher.  The purpose of a job essay is generally for an employer to assess how well an applicant can organize his/her thoughts and how well an applicant can write.

Whenever an individual has to create a job essay, there are several different ways that he/she may have to go about creating the document.  In some cases, applicants will be able to write the job essays on their own at their own houses.  In other cases, individuals may have to create job essays while in an interview at an employer's facility.  In both cases, preparing for the job essay may be challenging, but not impossible.  

The first step that applicants can take when it comes to completing a job essay is to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the topic.  Job applicants should always ask questions if they feel that they don't understand exactly what is required of them in the job essay question.  

Next, once an applicant understands the topic, the applicant should outline the document.  In some cases, time may be limited, yet it's still important that the applicant understand what he/she will write about.  A small outline can make all the difference in the world when it comes to creating an effective and purposeful outline.  

After applicants have completed a small job essay outline, they can begin writing the actual report itself.  The applicant may not have time to revise the document.  Therefore, he/she needs to be careful to create a solid first draft of the report on the first attempt.  Even if time is limited, applicants can always make time to check their spelling (and they should).  

There is a difference between completing a job essay and completing a cover letter or any other type of formal job application document.  When an applicant writes a cover letter, for example, the individual has time to revise and tweak it.  However, when an applicant creates job essays, the individual usually has to write the job essays in a short amount of time in an employer's office, making it difficult to revise the job essays or to even think for a long amount of time about what will be included.  Therefore, employers will understand the difference in an applicant's end result, which should help applicants to feel not-so-bad about small errors that they may make in their job essays.

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