How To Tell if AI Wrote an Essay: 5 Effective Methods

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, The Washington Post made the choice to use automated storytelling for their coverage of the event.

They created an exclusive digital platform filled with AI content creation tools needed by today’s publishers.

Because of their platform, the writers could produce more than 850 stories. This puts them above the rest when it comes to providing coverage, making them a top choice for readers.

This is how AI-generated content is done right. Having timely narratives alongside traditional reporting is a smart use of technology.

That being said, like most great things, AI can also be abused.

As a professional educator, researcher, or just a curious reader, it’s important to know how to tell if AI wrote an essay.

Because of how advanced AI content creation has gotten, it may not be easy to tell which is human and AI-generated at first glance.

Here’s everything you need to know about AI-content detection.

5 Strategies for Identifying AI-Written Essays

AI has come a long way, going way back to the 1950s by Alan Turing. The Turing Test was used to measure a machine’s ability to display human-like intelligence.

artificial intelligence timeline

Basically, if a machine can engage with a human without being detected as a machine, it passes the test.

Decades later, AI is now used for content creation.

This is all thanks to how technology has evolved with natural language processing (NLP) and other machine learning algorithms that can analyze huge amounts of data and create human-like responses.

AI is now widely used, especially in academic contexts. Without responsible AI use, the authenticity and transparency that institutions protect are tarnished.

Even in college admissions, knowing how to tell if an essay is AI-generated is becoming a priority.

Colleges and universities are taking proactive measures to prevent AI from influencing admission decisions.

They are now investing in tools and planning multiple strategies to prevent the submission of AI-written material.

To help you out with this challenge, here are five effective strategies to identify AI-written content.

1. Using AI Content Detection Tools

Consider a teacher receiving a big batch of electronically submitted student essays.

As she reviews them, she notices one that gives off a very unusual writing style. With the workload she’s handling, checking manually can be a hassle.

Thanks to AI content detection tools, she can easily submit the text and check.

This lets her identify essays that might require a closer look, ensuring the academic integrity and fairness of grading stays intact.

Remember that we now live in a time where AI plagiarism actually exists.

For instance, a highly-rated AI content detector like Undetectable AI can detect AI content with unparalleled accuracy.

undetectable ai detector and humanizer homepage

It can quickly find inconsistencies, deviations, and unnatural language within seconds – all wrapped in an easy-to-use interface.

Here are some ways that AI detectors like Undetectable AI are commonly used.

  • Educational institutions and academic platforms can use AI content detection tools to screen assignments submitted by students.
  • Publishers, media outlets, and content creators use AI content detection to evaluate how authentic their written content is before reaching publication.
  • Researchers and scholars rely on AI content detection tools to prevent the spread of misinformation or inaccurate findings.
  • Beyond just identifying AI-written essays, AI content detection includes comparing a vast database of content to make sure that the written text is not plagiarized.
  • Content producers and marketers take advantage of AI tools to preserve brand reputation by checking that the writing style and tone are not inconsistent.
  • AI content detection tools assist in verifying the authenticity of written documents and maintaining compliance with intellectual property laws.

With the use of AI content detection tools, it will be much easier for institutions and organizations to adapt to the rise of AI use across various professions.

But when AI is used correctly, it can help automate processes, lessen routine work, and empower professionals to work harder on what makes an impact.

It’s a combo move that’s worth putting in the effort.

2. Analyzing Tone and Style

A simple yet effective hands-on way how to tell if an essay is AI-generated is by looking at how the written content sounds.

You can usually watch out for these red flags.

  • Real human-written essays usually show some sort of “natural variability.” This means that there is a tone that’s specific to the writer, making it uniquely theirs.
  • AI content generators have a really hard time incorporating human emotion into their content. These generators create content purely based on a prompt and usually feel very generic and, as cliché as it sounds, robotic.
  • There’s a lack of relatable experiences and fresh perspectives, basically looking like the text was paraphrased from an already existing article.
  • AI isn’t capable of going deeper into complex topics. There’s a huge lack of sophistication in the style of writing, being unable to provide clear analysis, interpretation, and insights.

By honing your observation skills, you, as a human reader, can instinctively detect these subtle nuances.

While automated tools can undoubtedly help with identifying AI-written essays, the power of human observation never goes away.

3. Identifying Lack of Personal Touch

When it comes to writing, the personal touch is the unique style that makes a written work uniquely the author’s.

It’s the individual’s voice and connection to the reader that makes essays feel real. This is why identifying a lack of personal touch is one of the best ways to know if something is AI-generated.

While AI tools like ChatGPT certainly have promise for the future of academic research, writers and researchers need to acknowledge the current limitations must be approached with caution.

chatgpt for assitant in college aplications

As H. Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals, points out, “ChatGPT is fun, but not an author.”

While AI content tools can be useful tools for inspiration and idea generation, we need to think ethically and make sure that the content we produce stays accurate and reliable.

4. Spotting Repetitive Language

One of the biggest telltale signs of AI-generated content is repetitive language. AI algorithms rely heavily on established patterns and templates to produce text.

As a result, AI-generated content usually shows a lot of repetitions, which shows how limited the algorithm’s programming is.

From the get-go, you will notice how monotonous the text is. This is because the repetitive texts and phrases used are also generic.

AI has a limited vocabulary when generating texts, which really stand out when you read them.

While repeating words doesn’t automatically mean something’s AI content, it’s a supplementary action that you can take note of to know if written content feels off.

5. Assessing Accuracy and Relevance

If you instruct an AI content generator to provide a statistic on the number of people who wake up from their sleep and walk down the stairs to drink a glass of milk, it is most likely to do so.

But what it doesn’t do is verify whether the information it just provided is correct or if it even exists.

What data AI provides is only the data in its database. This means that the information can be outdated.

There can also be inconsistencies and even bias, depending on where the data comes from.

It’s scary to think that AI-generated content can be alarmingly convincing.

People are 3% less likely to spot inaccurate information when content is AI-written because AI makes content condensed and easy to process.

This is why it’s important to be cautious about how you use information online.

Importance of Distinguishing Human and AI-Crafted Essays

In a nutshell, it’s important to recognize the differences between human and AI content to maintain authenticity, prevent misinformation, and avoid plagiarism.

Here’s a rundown of why you should distinguish human from AI work.

  • Preventing plagiarism and ensuring that students receive recognition for their original work.
  • Preserving the credibility of published works, research findings, and journalistic pieces.
  • Fighting the spread of fake news online.
  • Clarifying the origin of essays supports ethical practices in writing and publishing.

Take note that this does not mean that we should outright ban the use of AI.

We should encourage responsible innovation in the field, and find the balance between using AI technology for efficiency and still being able to maintain the unique value of human creativity and expression.

How to Humanize Your Essays with Undetectable

Knowing how to tell if AI wrote an essay takes a lot of time when done manually, but thankfully, tools like Undetectable AI exist to make it easier. Just paste the text, and there you have it.

How to Humanize Your Essays with Undetectable

But if you were researching and found some great ideas with the help of AI, you can use our AI humanizer to ensure that any text you write stays real. This dual functionality offers peace of mind.

Create authentic and engaging essays with confidence, all without having to sacrifice the personal touch that sets human writing apart.

With both tools available on one platform, you can enjoy even more creativity, efficiency, and reliability when you write.


With some human intuition, you can identify if any written work is made by a human or AI. With these strategies, you can be more confident about the information you read.

But it doesn’t hurt to consider the use of AI content detection tools to ease the process.

It can be time-consuming to manually do all the work, so having Undetectable by your side is a good idea.

With its advanced AI detection capabilities and humanization features, Undetectable lets you tell the difference between human and AI essays just within seconds.

We live in a time where human and AI-generated content continues to blur, so by staying informed and taking a proactive approach, we can protect ourselves from misinformation while still being able to maximize the benefits of AI technology for content creation.

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