Is Writing Becoming Obsolete? The Effect of AI on Writing and Standardized Testing

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Is how you write as important as what you write? Beginning in grade school, we are tasked with learning grammar rules. By the time we reach college, we are expected to have some general knowledge of academic writing. However, we now live in a world with artificial intelligence. AI has a great effect on the importance of our ability to engage in academic writing.

Artifical intelligence now has the ability to do this writing for us. For instance, robot reporters can now produce journal articles. Chatbots can simulate conversation with human writers. Developers design their software with the ability to learn and act like humans. This is called machine learning - the ability of a machine to improve learning on its own so that it becomes more human-like. Machines are learning how to do our academic writing for us.

The next logical question is, are university degrees obsolete? If a computer can do our work for us, do we need to write anything at all? Yes, we do. We will not render our university degrees obsolete. What we write is still as important as before, and it is now more important than how we write.
Despite the capabilities of artificial intelligence, English language learners are tested on their writing skills in standardized tests such as the IELTS, TOEIC, and TOEFL. In all three tests, the student is expected to pass a basic level of English proficiency in their writing. In the IELTS essay, the student is required to analyze a chart in IELTS Task 1.

In IELTS Task 2, the student must respond to a topic with their opinion. The IELTS Band is the scoring method of the test. The IELTS Band scores the student on their writing. The TOEFL essay also scores students on their writing. In the TOEFL essay the student writes independently, as in the IELTS essay.

AI now has the ability to generate writing at an industry standard of 4.0, whereas the general white-collar worker, while he or she is in university, is taught to write at an industry standard of 3.0. So, these tests may well become far less significant. How should ESL and ELL students prepare for the IELTS, TOEIC, and the TOEFL if this is the case? Since it is still essential to develop soft skills such as critical thinking, research methods, and content analysis, students can listen to podcasts such as TED talks, Singularity University, Tech Tonic by the Financial Times, and more to develop these skills.

In the age of Chatbots and Robot Reporters, it’s true that it’s not as essential for us to know how to write. However, our ideas are still important. We can still have an impact on what other people are thinking through the written word. Standardized tests may become obsolete, but our minds will not follow suit. In the age of artificial intelligence, what we write is much more important than how we write it.


The end of university degrees?