This increased the cost (and slowed down the grading) considerably. Today, thousands of people, typically temps, are employed each year grading the essay portion of standardized tests. This article by Jessica Lussenhop of the Minneapolis City Pages takes you behind the scenes of essay grading. It's not a particularly edifying scene (although not all that dismal).[Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business—Behind the scenes of standardized testing, February 23 2011]
The take home lesson I get is that you should make sure your first sentence is sterling. Graders don't have time to read your essay carefully, so you want to make a good first impression.