Essay rubric

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An essay rubric is a table of specific criteria that helps teachers and professors to grade students’ assignments. Essay rubric saves a lot of time for grading.

Thesis / Focus

Masters Requirement: Thesis/topic sentences are compelling, complex, and focused, consistently demonstrating mastery of the topic and an awareness of the audience.

Exceeds Requirement: Thesis and topic sentences answer the prompt effectively by keeping the writer’s point as the primary focus throughout the paper and engaging the complexities of the topic.

Meets Requirement: Essay presents a central idea that answers the prompt and maintains the writer’s point through the paper in an adequate way, though the thesis may be simple or formulaic.

Misses Requirement: Essay presents an assumed or implied central idea, though it may not take the form of a standard thesis or topic sentences. Summary may substitute for the thesis.

Fails Requirement: Essay describes or summarizes rather than presents a central idea. Ideas may be disconnected or missing


Masters Requirement: Essay has an exemplary structure; paragraphs progress logically. The flow of sentences within the paragraphs enhances the writer’s argument.

Exceeds Requirement: Paragraphs are wellorganized, with an effective logical structure. Sentences within the paragraphs flow effectively, supporting the thesis/topic sentences.

Meets Requirement: Paragraphs are organized, with adequate unity and coherence. Paragraphs should include transitions, topic sentences, explanation and support, and a conclusion.

Misses Requirement: Paragraphs have a point, but the logical structure connecting them is unclear.

Fails Requirement: Organization is not apparent in the paper. Internal paragraph structure and global structure are difficult to follow.


Masters Requirement: Paper develops a compelling argument with insight, using indepth analysis, counter-argument and a variety of rhetorical modes.

Exceeds Requirement: Paper demonstrates effective analysis, with insights drawn from multiple perspectives and rhetorical modes. Presents counterargument.

Meets Requirement: The paper supports the thesis with adequate evidence and analysis. Paper may attempt to develop insight.

Misses Requirement: Paper presents a confused or implied discussion of the subject. Summary may be used as a substitute for argument. Writing may discuss the topic generally rather than sustain an argument.

Fails Requirement: Development and analysis do not meet the requirements of the assignment. Essay lacks an understandable sense of paragraphing.

Research / Support

Masters Requirement: Essay uses compelling support from reliable sources to support the thesis in depth, cited correctly according to current MLA guidelines.

Exceeds Requirement: Essay demonstrates effective support using multiple examples drawn from credible sources. Citation is mostly correct throughout the paper.

Meets Requirement: Paper supports its claims with adequate research and/or examples. Outside sources are formatted and cited, though errors may be present.

Misses Requirement: Essay supports thesis with unreliable sources or inappropriate evidence. Sources integrated poorly or not at all. MLA citation and formatting are missing or not attempted.

Fails Requirement: Essay fails to include sources and/or does not integrate sources. Paper may include plagiarism.