Essay rubric

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The C essay is competent, exhibiting no serious or frequent deficiencies

The B essay is strong in most areas.

The A essay excels in all areas.

The D essay is deficient in one or more areas

Purpose and Insight

The C essay addresses the topic and offers a thesis. The thesis, however, may not explore the topic with sufficient complexity or it may be too broad, unclear, or awkward. Displays evidence of surface reading and an “undigested” argument.

The B essay exhibits a clear sense of purpose and audience, and has a sufficiently narrow focus. It explores the topic in some depth and with some complexity, displaying sufficient evidence of close reading and a “digested” argument

The A essay exhibits a strong sense of purpose and audience, and has a clearly defined focus. It exhibits clarity, depth, originality, and complexity in its analysis and displays ample evidence of careful, meticulous reading.

The D essay may lack a clear thesis, or the thesis may be weak or overly general. May display little evidence of reading and lack a grasp of the topic.

Organization and


The C essay offers support for its thesis; however, this support may not be evaluated or analyzed thoroughly. It may state and re-state claims instead of developing them. The C essay has an introduction, body, and conclusion, generally unified paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs. However, the C essay may proceed formulaically or mechanically. The conclusion may not move much beyond the initial thesis. Relies a bit too heavily on summary and/or quotes rather than thoughtful commentary.

The B essay proceeds logically and offers appropriate support for its thesis. It is a generally unified essay, with a clear introduction and coherent paragraphs with argumentative topic sentences. Its analysis is developed as opposed to being merely stated. Its conclusion does not merely restate the argument, but conveys relevance of the topic by drawing together preceding insights in a new way.

The A essay is distinguished by sound logic. It offers sufficient and appropriate support for the thesis in the form of concrete, specific and relevant evidence. It is a unified essay that proceeds coherently with an effective introduction, well-developed and unified paragraphs, graceful transitions, and a conclusion that, rather than summarizing previous points, explores the implications of the preceding analysis and offers relevance.

The D essay may fail to provide adequate support for its thesis; it may substitute repetition for a development. It may lack coherence. Transitions may be awkward or nonexistent. Reads more like a random or vague analysis with no clear, central focus. Relies on summary and/or quotations rather than thoughtful commentary.



The C essay employs readable prose, but the sentences may be simple and lack variety. May use RIP words. Prose, at times, suffers from wordiness and/or awkward syntax. Reader may have to re-read some sentences and edit to decipher meaning.

In the B essay, sentences are sufficiently varied and employ subordinate clauses to help organize complex ideas. Language is generally concise and appropriate. May use a couple RIP words. No work is required of the reader.

In the A essay, sentences are skillfully crafted & effectively varied: language is fresh, precise, & economical. Maintains a consistent & appropriate tone. Does not use RIP words. Reader effortlessly grasps meaning.

The D essay often lacks variety in sentence structure and suffers from inappropriate diction and/or extremely awkward syntax. May use RIP words to a damaging level. Reader has to work hard to decipher a meaning.



The C essay employs generally correct grammar, syntax and spelling. Errors, however, may be serious enough to detract from the effectiveness of the essay. Some errors in MLA format.

The B essay employs generally correct grammar, syntax, & spelling. Errors, when they appear, do not detract from the overall effectiveness of the essay. 1-2 MLA errors (possible).

The A essay is free of errors in grammar, syntax, and spelling. No MLA formatting errors.

A D essay is often characterized by grammatical errors, such as but not limited to: fragments, comma splices, agreement errors, or inappropriate shifts in tense, voice, mood, or person. It may also be rife with spelling errors.

The F essay is seriously deficient. It may exhibit a poor grasp of the assignment, or be deficient in one or more of the following areas: purpose, organization and development, language, and mechanics. It may lack a clear thesis or fail to support its thesis. Other common features of failing essays are: faulty logic, ineffective organization, incoherent paragraphs, incorrect diction, and so many syntactic and grammatical errors that the essay becomes unreadable. Evidence of plagiarism will also result in a grade of F.

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