Essay Rubric: Basic Guidelines and Sample Template

Lectures and tutors provide specific requirements for students to meet when writing essays. Basically, an essay rubric helps tutors to analyze the quality of articles written by students. In this case, useful rubrics make the analysis process simple for lecturers as they focus on specific concepts related to the writing process. Also, an essay rubric list and organize all of the criteria into one convenient paper. In other instances, students use an essay rubric to enhance their writing skills by examining various requirements. Then, different types of essay rubrics vary from one educational level to another. For example, Master’s and Ph.D. essay rubrics focus on examining complex thesis statements and other writing mechanics. However, high school essay rubrics examine basic writing concepts. In turn, a sample template of a high school rubric in this article can help students to evaluate their papers before submitting them to their teachers.

General Aspects of an Essay Rubric

An essay rubric refers to the way how teachers assess student’s composition writing skills and abilities. Basically, an essay rubric provides specific criteria to grade assignments. In this case, teachers use essay rubrics to save time when evaluating and grading various papers. Hence, learners must use an essay rubric effectively to achieve desired goals and grades.

Essay rubric

General Assessment Table for an Essay Rubric

1. Organization

Excellent/8 points: The essay contains stiff topic sentences and a controlled organization.

Very Good/6 points: The essay contains a logical and appropriate organization. The writer uses clear topic sentences.

Average/4 points: The essay contains a logical and appropriate organization. The writer uses clear topic sentences.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The essay has an inconsistent organization.

Unacceptable/0 points: The essay shows the absence of a planned organization.

Grade: ___ .

2. Style

Excellent/8 points: The essay shows the absence of a planned organization.

Very Good/6 points: The paper contains precise and varied sentence structures and word choices. 

Average/4 points: The paper follows a limited but mostly correct sentence structure. There are different sentence structures and word choices.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The paper contains several awkward and unclear sentences. There are some problems with word choices.

Unacceptable/0 points: The writer does not contain apparent control over sentence structures and word choice.

Grade: ___ .

3. Content

Excellent/8 points: The content appears sophisticated and contains well-developed ideas.

Very Good/6 points: The essay content appears illustrative and balanced.

Average/4 points: The essay contains unbalanced content that requires more analysis.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The essay contains a lot of research information without analysis or commentary.

Unacceptable/0 points: The essay lacks relevant content and does not fit the thesis statement. Essay rubric rules are not followed.

Grade: ___ .

4. Thesis

Excellent/8 points: The essay contains a clearly stated and focused thesis statement.

Very Good/6 points: The written piece comprises a clearly stated argument. However, the focus would have been sharper.

Average/4 points: The thesis phrasing sounds simple and lacks complexity. The writer does not word the thesis correctly. 

Needs Improvement/2 points: The thesis statement requires a clear objective and does not fit the theme in the content of the essay.

Unacceptable/0 points: The thesis is not evident in the introduction.

Grade: ___ .

5. Ideas

Excellent/8 points: The essay is clear and focused. The work holds the reader’s attention. Besides, the relevant details and quotes enrich the thesis statement.

Very Good/6 points: The essay is mostly focused and contains a few useful details and quotes.

Average/4 points: The writer begins the work by defining the topic. However, the development of ideas appears general.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The author fails to define the topic well, or the writer focuses on several issues.

Unacceptable/0 points: The essay lacks a clear sense of a purpose or thesis statement. Readers have to make suggestions based on sketchy or missing ideas to understand the intended meaning. Essay rubric requirements are missed.

Grade: ___ .

6. Sentence Fluency

Excellent/8 points: The essay has a natural flow, rhythm, and cadence. The sentences are well built and have a wide-ranging and robust structure that enhances reading.

Very Good/6 points: The ideas mostly flow and motivate a compelling reading.

Average/4 points: The text hums along with a balanced beat but tends to be more businesslike than musical. Besides, the flow of ideas tends to become more mechanical than fluid.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The essay appears irregular and hard to read.

Unacceptable/0 points: Readers have to go through the essay several times to give this paper a fair interpretive reading.

Grade: ___ .

7. Conventions

Excellent/8 points: The student demonstrates proper use of standard writing conventions, like spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, usage, and paragraphing. The student uses protocols in a way that improves the readability of the essay.

Very Good/6 points: The student demonstrates proper writing conventions and uses them correctly. One can read the essay with ease, and errors are rare. Few touch-ups can make the composition ready for publishing.

Average/4 points: The writer shows reasonable control over a short range of standard writing rules. The writer handles all the conventions and enhances readability. The errors in the essay tend to distract and impair legibility.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The writer makes an effort to use various conventions, including spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar usage, and paragraphing. The essay contains multiple errors.

Unacceptable/0 points: The author makes repetitive errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, usage, and paragraphing. Some mistakes distract readers and make it hard to understand the concepts. Essay rubric rules are not covered.

Grade: ___ .

8. Presentation

Excellent/8 points: The form and presentation of the text enhance the readability of the essay and the flow of ideas.

Very Good/6 points: The format has few mistakes and is easy to read.

Average/4 points: The writer’s message is understandable in this format.

Needs Improvement/2 points: The writer’s message is only comprehensible infrequently, and the paper appears disorganized.

Unacceptable/0 points: Readers receive a distorted message due to difficulties connecting to the presentation of the text.

Grade: ___ .

Final Grade: ___ .

Grading Scheme for an Essay Rubric:

  • A+ = 60+ points
  • A = 55-59 points
  • A- = 50-54 points
  • B+ = 45-49 points
  • B = 40-44 points
  • B- = 35-39 points
  • C+ = 30-34 points
  • C = 25-29 points
  • C- = 20-24 points
  • D = 10-19 points
  • F = less than 9 points

Basic Differences in Education Levels and Essay Rubrics

The quality of essays changes at different education levels. For instance, college students must write miscellaneous papers when compared to high school learners. In this case, an essay rubric will change for these different education levels. For example, university and college essays should have a debatable thesis statement with varying points of view. However, high school essays should have simple phrases as thesis statements. Then, other requirements in an essay rubric will be more straightforward for high school students. For master’s and Ph.D. essays, the criteria presented in an essay rubric should focus on examining the paper’s complexity. In turn, compositions for these two categories should have thesis statements that demonstrate a detailed analysis of defined topics that advance knowledge in a specific area of study.

Summing Up on an Essay Rubric

Essay rubrics help teachers, instructors, professors, and tutors to analyze the quality of essays written by students. Basically, an essay rubric makes the analysis process simple for lecturers. Essay rubrics list and organize all of the criteria into one convenient paper. In other instances, students use the essay rubrics to improve their writing skills. However, they vary from one educational level to the other. Master’s and Ph.D. essay rubrics focus on examining complex thesis statements and other writing mechanics. However, high school essay rubrics examine basic writing concepts.  The following are some of the tips that one must consider when preparing a rubric.

  • contain all writing mechanics that relates to essay writing;
  • cover different requirements and their relevant grades;
  • follow clear and understandable statements.