Essay Rubric Written in Language Your Students will Understand: Based on Proficiency Test Requirements Throughout the United States.

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Rubrics are an effective way to grade essays, end confusion, and help students write better. This essay writing rubric, written in language your students will understand, just made your life a whole lot easier.

Focus and Development

F - Essay either has no thesis whatsoever or simply says the topic over and over and over and over and over and over without supporting it.

D - Essay has very little focus, very few supporting details, and tends to discuss things which have nothing to do with the thesis.

C - Essay is focused with very little development. Very predictable. No insight or evidence of critical thinking.

B - Essay has some focus and development. Essay sticks to the subject and uses an example to support thesis.

A - Essay sticks to the point and supports thesis.

A+ Essay focuses and develops using creativity and insight.


F - Essay makes absolutely no sense

D - Essay is extremely confusing.

C - Essay makes some sense but contains things that don’t belong or things that are out of place. The essay rambles on and on about things which have no relevancy to anything in the essay. Don’t you hate it when you’re writing something and you just start rambling. I remember one time I did that on a paper in my English class when I was in high school. My friend Tony turned it in early and went on a vacation to South Carolina. I received a D- on the paper, which was probably more than I deserved, considering I waited until the last day to do it, and I wrote it during the Super Bowl, which, by the way, the Giants won. That night a lot of my friends went to the Phil Collins concert in Cleveland, so they obviously had already written their paper and probably rambled on much less than my D- paper did.

B -Ideas are organized but have no flow or transitions.

A -Essay is organized clearly.

A+Essay is organized extremely well and flows smoothly.


F - It is obvious you have no idea anyone will be reading this (pause) including yourself. In fact, I doubt you even proofread this because if you did you would have fallen asleep because there is absolutely no attempt to involve the reader.

D - Perhaps you attempted to involve the reader but failed.

C - An attempt was made to involve the reader but it was not sincere. In other words you went through the motions. You probably have a lot of to be verbs.

B - Some sincerity in your effort has been demonstrated, but certain parts are disconnected from the reader.

A -The reader can tell you’re committed to the topic.

A+ The reader is very interested in what you have to say and actually enjoys grading this essay.

Sentence Structure and Word Choice

F - Remember those books you read in the first grade about Dick, Jane, and Spot?

D - Uses very poor word choice. It’s obvious you have not been keeping up on your vocabulary. The essay also contains inappropriate words, i.e., slang expressions.

C - Your sentences are boring and passive. You have not used any conjunctions, semi-colons, etc…

B - Sentences and words make sense, but you should have been more efficient. In other words, you used trite phrases which added nothing to the development of your essay.

A - Shows effective use of the English language and grammar. The essay uses a variety of sentence types.

A+The writer is in control of his/her vocabulary and sentences

Grammar and Mechanics

F -the righter completely don’t hav none idear a how to rite an spel.

D -The writer makes consistent mistakes and probably should have done a grammar review.

C -many mistakes but is understandable

B - some errors

A -few errors

A+no errors

More Rubrics

Persuasive Essay Rubric

Notebook Rubric

This post is part of the series: Rubrics

End arguments, raise standards, and improve instruction with rubrics.

  1. Using Rubrics for Student Notebook Checks
  2. Owning Your Very Own Persuasive Essay Rubric
  3. Making Grading Easier with this General Essay Rubric
  4. News Article Rubric for Middle or High School Students