What is Mechanical Accuracy in Essay Writing?

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Mechanical accuracy in essay writing is one of the criteria English examiners use in marking essay scripts.

In the B.E.C.E, the four criteria used in marking essay scripts are:

  • Content = 10 marks
  • Organisation = 5 marks
  • Mechanical Accuracy = 5 marks
  • Expression = 10 marks

Total = 30 marks


The examiner assigns marks to mechanical accuracy by checking these areas:

  • Mistakes in subject-verb agreement


(wrong use): Yam and beans stew are the food I like best.

(correct use): Yam and beans stew is the food I like best.

  • Grammatical mistakes


(Wrong use): Akwasi and his family are staying in Kumasi.

(Correct use): Akwasi and his family is staying in Kumasi.

  • Wrong spellings


(Wrong spelling): Porrige

(Correct spelling): Porridge

  • Error in tenses


(wrong use): As soon as I went, he sees his brother.

(correct use): As soon I went, he saw his brother

  • Wrong arrangement of sentences


(wrong use): The old little man.

(correct use): The little old man.

  • Wrong use of prepositions


(wrong use): The hardworking student walks by foot to school.

(correct use): The hardworking student walks on foot to school.

  • Wrong use of capitalisation


(Wrong use): Before the homework, i went searching for him.

(Correct use): Before the homework, I went searching for him.

Note: Check the “i”

Note: Most B.E.C.E candidates score zero ( 0 ) in this area because most students find grammar difficult.


Content covers points and explanations used by a candidate in an examination. In this area, the examiner expects a candidate to:

1. Provide relevant points on the essay.

2. Explain points by providing details.

3. Write the required number of words used in the essay.

Note: Writing more than the required number of words does not cause any deduction of marks.

Let us consider this question.

As the senior prefect of your school, write a letter to the district chief executive of your district explaining two ways of improving sanitation in your district.

In the question above, the candidate is expected to write a suitable introduction, two major ways about improving sanitation and a conclusion.


First point: Provision of a waste management system.

Second point: Public education on the benefits of keeping a clean environment.

These two points must have their own paragraphs and must be explained into details for the examiner to award good marks.

However, when the candidate deviates from the topic at hand, he/she would lose a lot of marks.


In this area, the examiner checks the correct arrangement of paragraphs and features of the type of essay to award appropriate marks.

For instance, writing formal letters have its arrangements and characteristics. The arrangement is as follows:

  • Writer’s address
  • Date
  • Receipient address
  • Salutation
  • Heading (in capital letters)
  • introdution
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Subsription
  • Signature
  • Full name of writer

Article writing, story writing, debates etc uses a different format in writing. The examiner checks to make sure the candidate is using the right format to answer the questions.

Failure to follow the correct steps may cause the candidate to lose precious marks.

Usually, it is easier for a candidate to score higher marks in the area of organisation than the area of mechanical accuracy.


“Expression” covers the ability of the candidate to use relevant vocabulary and sentence structures in an essay.

The words and sentences used should describe the point of view of the candidate in the essay.

The candidate will score more points if they use descriptive phrases, idiomatic expressions and proverbs to convey their message well.

Some examples of rich expressions that can add colour to the essay are as follows:

1.”The Parents met behind closed doors.”

Behind closed doors” is a rich expression which means to meet privately.

2.” What Emmanuela did to her husband was a stab in the back.

This means that Emmanuela’s actions were an act of betrayal.

Using these expressions appropriately in the right places can make the essay engaging and hence, attract more marks.

The examiner also checks the essay for transitional words that can be used to link one idea to the other. Some of the transitional words are as follows

  • As a matter of fact …
  • To be specific …
  • Further more…
  • In my opinion
  • In other words…
  • Finally…
  • I also suggest…
  • Although…etc

Note: To minimize mistakes in “expression”,the candidate should be extremely careful with their choice of words by making them very simple and straight to the point.


Mechanical accuracy deals with the use of correct grammatical structures, correct spelling, correct punctuations and correct use of tenses. These are the areas the examiner penalises.

In the B.E.C.E, the three criteria used by the examiner to allocate marks are: Content = 10 marks, Organisation = 5marks, Expression = 10marks, Mechanical Accuracy = 5marks

I would like to get your views and opinions concerning this topic in the comment section below. Thank you


George is interested in self-education, knowledge building and self expression through writing!

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