“Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the ‘send’ button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program.”

This thought, from a New York Times article, caught my attention. The article discussed the computerization of education and grading and reported that a nonprofit enterprise founded to offer courses online has created such a system and plans to “make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it.” So, what might such a system do?


Four score and seven [EIGHTY-SEVEN] years ago our fathers [ANCESTORS is preferable] brought forth on [ONE PART OF] this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty [NO NEED TO CAPITALIZE], and dedicated [WHAT’S YOUR SOURCE FOR THIS?] to the proposition that all men [PEOPLE] are created equal.

Now [CAN YOU BE MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT THIS TIME REFERENCE? WHEN EXACTLY IS NOW?] we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met [ASSEMBLED] on a great battle-field [NO HYPHEN IN WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD FOURTH EDITION] of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, [EXTRANEOUS COMMA] as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that [IN ORDER] that [SUCH A] nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger [ANOTHER] sense, we can not dedicate* — we can not consecrate* — we can not hallow* — this ground.[*REPETITIVE LANGUAGE] The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have [ALREADY] consecrated it, far above our poor [MORE LIMITED] power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember [THIS IS CONJECTURE] what we say here, but it can [MAY] never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which [THAT] they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is[,] rather[,] for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — [A COLON IS PREFERABLE TO A DASH] that from these honored dead [AND WOUNDED] we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth [CONTINUATION] of freedom — and that government of the people*, by the people*, for the people* [*REPETITIVE LANGUAGE], shall not perish from the earth.

Grade: C-.

General comment: Too short.


David Lebedoff is a Minneapolis attorney and author. This article first appeared in the Washington Post.