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Essay Criteria and Scoring Rubric

Criteria for a high-quality paper:


This paper has a clear organization that avoids repeating ideas. It uses a variety of transitional words and phrases effectively to link thoughts together. Each point in the paper is clear and distinct. It has a distinct introduction that effectively leads up to the thesis. The thesis statement is clear and narrow enough to focus the paper. The rest of the paper supports the thesis. The conclusion ends the paper in an effective manner.


Paragraphs are fully developed and specific examples used as needed to prove the points. The introduction leads up to the thesis and is developed as a paragraph, not just a couple of sentences. The paper is the assigned length.

This paper shows the student’s ability to take information and discuss the relevancy, accuracy or importance of that information. Opposing points of view are discussed, if necessary. Good quality and helpful examples are used. The conclusion shows good critical thinking skills concerning the subject and avoids summary.


This paper follows MLA format precisely. The “Works Cited” page is done correctly. Internal citations match the works cited page. The student demonstrates the ability to evaluate sources by using only good quality and responsible sources in the paper. There is no plagiarism in this paper.


Student demonstrates an excellent command of grammar, spelling and punctuation. There are few or no GPS errors in this paper. Student demonstrates a thorough command of the English language and few or no ESL errors will be found in this paper. Paper is written in formal language.

Scoring Rubric
5.9-5.0 (“A”) Distinguished
This paper meets or exceeds all of the above criteria.

4.9-4.0 (“B”) Commendable
This paper has successfully met the above criteria but may have a few more mechanical errors. It might

be a little weak in critical thinking or have some minor errors in MLA formatting.

3.9-3.0 (“C”) Acceptable

This paper shows a general competency in the above criteria but still has some substantial weaknesses.

The mechanics are very good but could use better editing. The student seems to understand the subject very well. The paper might be a little short. 3.3-3.0 is borderline passing ( “C-“).

2.9-2.0 (“D”) Does not meet minimum standards
This paper does not show competency in the above criteria. There are far too many errors or

problems. The paper may be too short. Command of mechanics may be shaky. Research may be

incomplete, unacceptable or superficial. Student may not understand the subject, the assignment or the

reading. The paper might not follow proper MLA protocol precisely.

1.9-1.0 (“F”) Not acceptable
This paper may have significant or pervasive problems. The writing skills demonstrated in this paper

may be far lower than is required for success in this class. The paper might be a page or more too short.

The student might not have understood the assignment or the material. Instructions for the paper might not have been followed.

0 (“F”) Missing or not accepted for scoring
This paper was never submitted or it was not accepted for scoring. Perhaps it is missing verification of writing lab. editing. The well-edited rough drafts may be missing. The paper might have been submitted too late. Research papers will not be scored until research materials have been submitted. Plagiarized papers receive two 0’s.

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