ChatGPT's Essay Seems Like 'Lazy' Work, Professor Says Would Give It Passing Marks

Last Updated: February 09, 2023, 18:50 IST

The man used ChatGPT to produce an essay demonstrating 12 weeks of learning.

While the professor thought there was something ‘fishy’, the ChapGPT essay would have scored 53% if it just had more in-text references.

ChatGPT’s remarkable ability to deliver accurate responses in a human-like fashion has made it a new favourite amongst users. Its prowess, some belief, could even threaten the likes of Google. Yet, the tech giant isn’t the only one with a cause for worry. Teachers, too, have a variety of concerns. With ChatGPT’s ability to answer any question and remove plagiarism much more efficiently, it is now easier than ever for students to cheat on their assignments. Literature review? Essay? Calculus? The advanced chatbot can do it all in record time. Could it really help one pass college with distinction, though? One youngster decided to find out.

Pieter Snepvangers, a writer for UK-based news publication The Tab, asked a lecturer to let him take their final year social policy assessment. Pieter would write an essay using chatGPT and see if he could land a grade around the 60-70 per cent threshold.

He had to write a 2000-word essay. His assignment was to draw on the policy literature about various forms of individual and collective action and use this information to assess what one can do about the climate emergency.

Pieter got to work. While chatGPT churned out responses to his prompts within minutes or even seconds, it did not always meet the word count. Neither was the quality all that great. Then, Pieter asked pointed questions. The answers became better.

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In a matter of 20 minutes, including some editing from his end, he was able to use ChatGPT to produce an essay that was supposed to demonstrate 12 weeks of learning. Then the swiftly put-together piece went off to the lecturer.

The feedback he received first was harsh enough. “Basically, this essay isn’t referenced,” the lecturer said. “It is very general. It doesn’t go into detail about anything. It’s not very theoretical or conceptually advanced.”

When Pieter asked the burning question, of whether it was obvious that an AI strung together the essay, the lecturer said, “I don’t think it would have been abundantly clear.” He simply thought it was a bit “fishy”. He even said he could have been convinced it was written by a “lazy” student.

Content-wise, the essay was actually not the worst. If only Pieter had added some plausible in-text references in addition to the bibliography, this paper would be scored a 53. That is not the best as far as marks go. But it would surely get a student past an exam– and within one-third of an hour.

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