Natural Language Processing in Essay Grading

Technology related to the Internet has advanced rapidly in recent years. Online tests are becoming more and more common in educational settings as improved methods help students study, get ready for exams, and take them. For instructors at all levels, grading student writing is one of their most important responsibilities. Despite its challenges, this is one of the most challenging and time-consuming projects. 

The assessment of students’ talents and academic achievement is more thorough when open-ended questions are asked casually or formally. Their evaluation, however, takes a lot of time, requires intense focus, and is more susceptible to subjectivity. However, automated essay grading and feedback systems have become quite popular due to developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP). 

In this article, we explore the transformative impact of automated feedback on essay grading through the application of Natural Language Processing (NLP) methodologies. We delve into the benefits of NLP in accelerating the grading process while also acknowledging its limitations and the need for a hybrid approach that combines automated grading with human judgment.

Overview of How NLP may Be Used to Grade Essays

Natural language processing is essential in generating feedback for open-ended questions by evaluating and comprehending the content of essays. The extraction of linguistic, syntactic, and semantic components from essays is made possible by NLP approaches. These characteristics offer useful insights into the essay’s quality, assisting teachers in evaluating elements including language variety, sentence variety, coherence, and subject relevancy. You can also take up an artificial intelligence course in India to acquire adequate knowledge of NLP. An outline of how NLP may be used to grade essays is given below:


  • Text Preprocessing: The text must be treated before any NLP techniques are used. To do this, the text is often stripped of any punctuation, made lowercase, and tokenized into individual words or phrases. Preprocessing aids in standardizing material and preparing it for additional analysis.
  • Feature Extraction: To assess various parts of the essay, NLP algorithms can extract a variety of characteristics. Grammar mistakes or complicated sentences can be picked up on by syntactic features, which concentrate on sentence structure.
  • Evaluation and Scoring: After retrieving the characteristics, the essay may be evaluated using scoring models. A collection of pre-graded essays may be used to train machine learning algorithms, such as Support Vector Machines (SVM), decision trees, or neural networks, to discover the correlation between the extracted characteristics and human-assigned grades. 
  • Feedback Generation: NLP methods can also be employed to produce feedback for the students. The system may give students specific comments to help them improve their writing by assessing the essay’s strengths and flaws based on the retrieved elements. This criticism could offer ways to strengthen the grammar, elaborate on key points, or deal with problems with the content. Automated feedback helps students realize their areas for growth while saving time for teachers and providing fast feedback to students.
  • Calibration and Improvement: It is critical to routinely evaluate the system using human-graded essays in order to guarantee the consistency and accuracy of the automated grading system. This aids in improving the assessment models and enhancing the feedback the system generates over time.

Benefits of Using Natural Language Processing in Essay Grading

There are several important advantages for both teachers and students when open-ended questions are graded using Natural Language Processing (NLP) in essay grading. By automating procedures and providing precise solutions, no-code machine learning may be utilized to assist in resolving AI issues and enhance NLP. Let us examine these benefits in further detail:

  1. Efficiency and Time-Saving: NLP-powered automated essay grading greatly cuts down on the time and labor needed for manual grading.
  2. Consistency and Uniformity: Grading methods based on NLP provide consistency and objectivity in assessing essays. In contrast, NLP algorithms follow pre-established norms and criteria, which promote fairness and lessen grade disparities among various assessors.
  3. An immediate feedback loop: For students to learn and progress, timely feedback is essential. Students can reflect on their assignments and make improvements immediately with the instant feedback provided by NLP-based grading systems.
  4. Improved Writing Ability: Automated feedback produced by NLP systems can assist students in identifying certain writing development areas. The focused feedback encourages self-directed learning and gives pupils the confidence to take charge of their own development.
  5. Standardization: NLP-based grading ensures assessments are consistently applied to various writings and themes. It equalizes the competition for all students by eliminating any potential biases that certain examiners might introduce.
  6. Scalability: As the need for online and remote learning rises, the capacity to scale grading procedures is essential. NLP makes it possible to evaluate several writings effectively, allowing teachers to provide students feedback immediately. 
  7. Efficient Data Analysis: NLP enables educators to analyze massive volumes of textual data to learn more about students’ writing styles, frequent mistakes, and misunderstandings. Educators can decide on curriculum design, teaching methods, and intervention tactics that are suitable for each student by compiling and evaluating this data.
  8. Customized Feedback: NLP algorithms may produce customized feedback based on examining numerous language elements in essays. Instead of receiving general feedback, students get specific advice on how to grow better at writing. Thanks to this personalized feedback, students may see their strengths and limitations, which promotes targeted learning and skill improvement.


It is vital to remember that while NLP can offer insightful commentary and criticism, it might only partially replace human assessment. Essays frequently need an expert understanding, and automated systems may need help with skills like creative thinking, reasoning, or recognizing minute differences in language. A hybrid technique that combines computerized essay grading with human review is frequently advised to ensure accuracy and impartiality.

Additionally, the availability of top-notch training data and thorough model building are crucial for the efficiency of NLP-based essay grading systems. Developing strong grading systems requires developing extensive and varied training datasets that cover a variety of essay themes and competence levels.

Overall, NLP has made tremendous progress in automating feedback for open-ended questions, helping instructors manage enormous quantities of essays, giving prompt feedback, and pinpointing areas where students’ writing abilities need to be improved.

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