Essay Grading Rubric

A - Attributes

  • Explores and illuminates the assignment as thoroughly as possible.
  • Razor-sharp, incisive thesis piques the reader’s interest.
  • Writer shows clear command of the assignment, thesis, texts, and arguments.
  • Writer engages the thesis throughout the essay and provides more than adequate support for the argument at hand.
  • Writer engages thoughtfully and sophisticatedly with secondary material used.
  • Introduction comes quickly and elegantly to the point, establishing the necessary context for the thesis.
  • Conclusion adds further significance and relevance to the thesis and the essay’s major points.
  • Writer assumes that the reader understands the material well, and treats the reader with the utmost respect.
  • Writer illuminates both the reader and the readings, making the reading both enjoyable and revelatory.
  • The essay is written in comfortable, clear, and precise diction.

Toward Revision

  • Minor stylistic revision, at most, necessary.

B  - Attributes

  • Writer has managed the assignment well with a narrow, argumentative thesis that considered the assignment’s length and limitations.
  • Writer has chosen interesting and appropriate passages or ideas to support the thesis.
  • The thesis is referred to occasionally in the body of the essay.
  • Introduction does not wander, and the conclusion does more than restate the thesis and main arguments.
  • The writer handles most of the material well, but may misstep occasionally with the argument’s development or understanding of the texts.
  • The writer engages with secondary material at a basic level.
  • The writer is engaged with the assignment and the material.
  • The writer assumes the reader knows the material.
  • The writer has edited the essay well.

Toward Revision

  • Essay requires moderate global revision, often a more specific thesis and arguments.
  • Revise to connect the arguments with better insights, more thoughtful analysis, and meaningful transitions.
  • Revise the introduction and/or conclusion to highlight the essay’s relevance.
  • Revise the essay for your own and your readers’ enjoyment.

C - Attributes

  • Broad thesis barely manages to corral an assignment of this length.
  • Support sometimes escapes the boundaries created by the thesis.
  • Writer sometimes mistakes summary or paraphrasing of the material for analysis or insight.
  • Writer summarizes secondary material and/or leans upon secondary material as incontrovertible authority without integrating it into his/her argument.
  • Writer’s own ideas and insights are not easily apparent in the essay.
  • The introduction does not provide full support for the thesis.
  • The conclusion merely summarizes the essay’s main arguments.
  • Inadequate preparation, mechanics, and style sometimes force the reader to review portions of the essay.
  • Writer has treated the essay as just another deadline.
  • The writer -- relying on summary, paraphrasing, and other less engaging forms of argumentative support -- has treated the reader with fairly low regard.
  • The writer may have edited the paper, but has overlooked problems.

Toward Revision

  • Essay requires substantial global revision.
  • Revise for a more specific and argumentative thesis.
  • Revise for a clearer argumentative outline.
  • Choose material (support, texts, ideas) appropriate to the new thesis and arguments: use texts to substantiate your own ideas and insights, rather than bowing to the obvious arguments.
  • Revise to connect the essay’s whole argument with unusual insights, thoughtful analysis, and meaningful transitions between ideas and paragraphs.
  • Revise introduction to lead naturally into the thesis.
  • Revise conclusion to provide a new idea or piece of evidence.

D - Attributes

  • Essay minimally addresses the assignment.
  • Body of essay and thesis do not align.
  • The writer has largely substituted quotations, paraphrasing, summary, and obvious factual statements for argumentation, analysis, and insight.
  • The writer has lost control of the essay.
  • Inadequate preparation, style, and/or mechanics force the reader to re-read many portions of the essay.
  • The writer may have edited, but has overlooked basic problems.

Toward Revision

  • Conference recommended with the instructor.
  • Global revision, perhaps an entirely new start, is required.
  • Begin with a different idea, thesis, and plan.
  • Choose material (quotations, research, ideas) for your specific argument, for a narrower scope.
  • Revise to better integrate the material with the argument.
  • Revise to integrate the thesis, its arguments, the supporting material, and the conclusion.
  • Revise to show respect for the reader, moving the essay along and pursuing more analysis and insights.
  • Integrate a new idea or evidence into the conclusion.
  • Revise and edit toward a well-read, intelligent, and demanding reader.

F - Attributes

  • Essay evades the assignment entirely or attempts the assignment dishonestly.
  • Inadequate preparation, style, or faulty mechanics prevent the reader from following the essay’s argument, if any argument exists.

Toward Revision

  • A conference is required with the instructor.

With thanks to Dr. Douglas Sugano, Whitworth University

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