What are the criteria for evaluating the ENEM wording?

The subject only needs to be the ENEM’s evaluation criteria for the controversy to enter through the room’s door! Some are angry with the impossibility of knowing the final grade with only the template in hand. Others don’t understand why some newsrooms score excellent while others don’t.

Despite the criticisms, few competitions present their evaluation criteria as clearly as the ENEM. INEP proposes to seek a democratic format that values ​​the student’s skills. No wonder that a growing number of renowned universities throughout Brazil have adopted the Exame as a selection system.  

In this post, we will explain how the main evaluation methods result in the ENEM grade work. Our objective is to clarify doubts about the Item Response Theory (IRT) and show how the wording is corrected. In each of these items, we will also bring strategic tips to achieve a good grade. Stay with us to answer your questions!

Particular evaluation criteria

All test criteria are available in the public notice and on Enem’s website. For the writing, the Participant’s Booklet is also provided. Knows? Not? So it started wrong! In it, you can find everything about the writing in a very straightforward way and examples of texts that were graded 1000 in other editions.

To help you stay in the know, here’s a summary of the test assessment methods so you can start getting acquainted with the subject (of course, as a good student you are, we hope you’ll visit the Exame website and also use the primer to study for the essay!).

How is the ENEM score calculated?

You probably already know that the multiple-choice test score meets a criterion called Item Response Theory, but you have no idea how it works! You are not alone. A survey carried out by Ibope showed that 62% of candidates understand more or less this account, 24% do not know anything about it, and only 14% understand it well!

For starters, it’s good to clarify: we’ll show you how the process works, but it’s not with this post that you’ll learn how to calculate your result by yourself at home. This is impossible! ENEM data is processed by computers that analyze a series of variables. We’ll explain it better below.

Step by step from TRI

Before the Exam reaches its final format, the questions are first prepared by teachers who do not have contact with each other. Afterwards, pre-tests are produced and applied to groups of high school and recent university students. Based on the volume of errors and successes, the questions receive a difficulty level rating. The very easy and the complicated ones are discarded.  

The selected questions are registered in the National Bank of Items (BNI), the database for preparing the ENEM test. After applying for the exam, it’s time to count the results. The answers are sifted: those that seem out of the standard (up or down) are considered guesswork and discarded to analyze later what level of knowledge the candidate is.

#ficadica: Pay attention to easy questions  

Don’t waste time racking your brain to get the most demanding questions right! If you fail to mark the easy ones, you can sink into the test. Read all the questions, find and carefully answer the ones you feel are the most peaceful. If it’s the first day, do the essay and return to the multiple-choice notebook to solve the heavier questions.

Theoretically, the most challenging questions are worth more. But they will be considered guessed and discarded if there is not a certain amount of easy questions in your score. It is a way for TRI to assess student learning coherence. That’s why a candidate who got fewer questions right can get a higher grade.

And what about ENEM’s assessment in the newsroom?

There is no way to use TRI to correct a text! Therefore, the newsroom has its criteria. It is corrected according to the five competencies pre-established by ENEM (we will talk about this later). Each item is worth between 0 and 200, totalling 1000 points. From these two scores, an average is taken.

Two proofreaders independently evaluate the exact text. In other words, they won’t discuss your essay or compare the grades given by each other. Suppose the difference between one correction and another is greater than 100 points in total or 80 points in any of the competencies. In that case, a third evaluator enters the scene, and the average will be taken between the closest grades.

If, even so, there is still a discrepancy, a face-to-face panel made up of three professors will once again assess the essay. The scores of the other three brokers are not discarded, and a new score is determined by consensus. These professors are also responsible for validating maximum grade cases.

To achieve a good result, in short, it is necessary to know well which are the five competencies proposed by ENEM as an evaluation item. For you to understand them well, let us detail each one of them.

1. Domain of formal writing in Portuguese

In this regard, the candidate’s ability to know the difference between formal and informal registration of our language is evaluated, as well as their grammatical knowledge. According to the information presented in the Participant’s Booklet, the mandatory use of the formal modality will appear clearly in the wording of the text.

The score varies according to the table below:


200 Excellent command of formal writing in Portuguese. Minor grammatical or convention errors are exceptionally acceptable.
160 Good command of the Portuguese language with few deviations.
120 Medium domain, with some grammatical and conventions deviations from Portuguese language registration.
80 Insufficient command of the Portuguese language, with many deviations.
40 Precarious domain, with systematic deviations from grammar and writing conventions.
0 Lack of formal writing in Portuguese.


#ficadica: Studying Portuguese is gold!

In addition to helping you with language-related issues, reinforcing your grammar study can add 200 points to your essay. Pay special attention to the spelling of words, syllabic separation, verbal and nominal inflections, rulers and concordances.

2. Understanding the topic and applying knowledge areas

This competency assesses whether you understand the proposal of the essay and if you can develop your arguments, using the knowledge learned in high school. Brokers hope to find a position to defend. Don’t just state some facts about the topic.  

In order for you to achieve a good result in this aspect of ENEM assessment, the Participant’s Guide recommends a careful reading of the motivating texts, without, however, getting stuck in the arguments developed therein. Another important fact: no excerpts must be copied! This is considered a serious fault that can reset the test (we’ll talk about this and other reasons for annulment later on).

One of the most recurrent failures is the total or partial avoidance of the theme, which, in the first case, is also considered a reason for cancellation. Therefore, staying focused is essential! It is noteworthy that the examiners consider how to touch the theme when the participant writes about broader issues to which the proposed subject is linked, leaving it in the background.  

To better understand, see how points are distributed:


200 It presents a consistent argumentation, with a sociocultural repertoire and an excellent command of the dissertation-argumentative text.
160 Good command of the essay-argumentative style and consistent considerations.
120 Predictable rationale and average knowledge of the essay-argumentative text.
80 Little knowledge of the proposed text structure, making use of excerpts from the motivating texts.
40 It touches on the theme and has a precarious knowledge of the essay-argumentative style, even other textual forms.
0 Escape from the theme or text not compatible with the dissertation-argumentative structure — the reason for cancelling the test.


#ficadica: Be strategic when using your knowledge

To obtain the 200 points in this assessment competence, the important thing is knowing how to defend a point of view based on the proposed theme without losing focus. Your knowledge in different areas should be used to validate your placements, not simply because they are attractive.

3. Ability to interpret information and organize arguments

At this point, the evaluator will check if you can explain your position with clear and logical arguments. In other words, whether there is consistency in your writing. Keep in mind that there will be a reader who needs to understand your position through your text. For this, they will award points as follows:


200 It defends a point of view with information, facts and opinions in a consistent and organized way, configuring authorship.
160 Defends a thesis in an organized way, with evidence of authorship. Able to present opinions, facts and information related to the topic.
120 It is limited to motivating texts to present opinions, facts and information, defending its point of view in an unorganized way.
80 It presents arguments limited to the motivating texts but in a disorganized or contradictory way.
40 It does not defend a point of view and presents arguments that are unrelated to the topic.
0 It does not defend a point of view, and the facts, information and opinions are not related to the topic.


#ficadica: Do a text project

Before starting to write the essay itself, organize your ideas about the proposed topic. Select the most relevant ones to defend your opinion and verify if there is any cause and effect relationship between your arguments to put them in order. Make a draft of the essay and, before writing it out, check if there is consistency between introduction, development and conclusion.  

4. Mastery of linguistic mechanisms of argumentation

There are words in the Portuguese language that is responsible for connecting ideas. These words avoid unnecessary repetition. Is the text weird? There were some conjunctions, adverbs and adverbial phrases responsible for the cohesion of the text, that is, the chain of ideas that facilitate the reading. In this regard, the score is divided as follows:


200 Knows how to articulate the parts of the text with diversified use of cohesion resources.
160 It has a diversified repertoire of cohesion resources, articulating the text well and presenting few inadequacies.
120 Little diversified cohesion, articulating the text in a medium way.
80 It articulates the text unsatisfactorily, limited in cohesion, with many inadequacies.
40 Poor articulation of the text.
0 Does not articulate information.


#ficadica: Review and replace words

Making a draft is essential to give the text that final polish! Check if the sentences are too loose and if connectors could help improve the sense. Comb through each paragraph looking for repeated words and replace them with synonyms and phrases. Finally, see if some pronouns and nouns can be omitted because they have already been cited and are easily identified.  

5. Ability to conclude with coherent proposals that respect human rights

For ENEM evaluators, it is not enough to present arguments; it is necessary to point out plausible solutions to the problem, which are in tune with human rights. In other words, your proposal cannot harm individual freedoms, citizenship values ​​and cultural diversity. See how the score is distributed:


200 It manages to present a detailed proposal, coherent and related to the arguments developed in the essay.
160 It presents a proposal related to the theme and is articulated with the arguments developed.
120 Medium intervention proposal, but articulated with the arguments developed in the text.
80 Unsatisfactory proposal or not articulated with the arguments developed.
40 Vague or quoted proposition.
0 Absence of intervention proposal or unrelated to the topic.


#ficadica: Injuring human rights does not reset but takes away points

Due to the Supreme Federal Court (STF) decision of November 2017, expressing opinions that diverge from human rights can no longer be a question to annul the wording of the Enem. However, this point remains part of the fifth competency to be assessed. This means that controversial conclusions can make you lose up to 200 points. It’s best to avoid!

What can reset the test?

It’s also important to stay tuned for what can lead to a zero grade or writing void. As we’ve already explained, if you avoid the topic or stop writing within the argumentative-dissertation structure, you’ll see your effort go down the drain.

Other reasons that the proof can be zero are text with less than seven lines and blank writing (even if you have submitted the draft).

Copying excerpts from motivating texts or purposefully disconnected parts, drawings and offences are also not tolerated.  

In this post, we seek to summarize the main criteria for evaluating ENEM, both for the multiple-choice test and the essay. With the information and tips we’ve provided, you can now target your studies more strategically to achieve good grades with consistent answers and a text capable of impressing your reviewers. Organize your studies and build your success!

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