A Scoring Rubric for an Essay Exam

Writing an essay is not an easy task – following the assignment guidelines, introducing some elements of originality, and at the same time managing to stay within the boundaries of the topic, offering solid bibliography is very hard.

However, assessing the level of students’ performance on the given type of assignment can be even harder, since each work much be evaluated according to specific standards. However, with the help of well-designed and thought through assessment criteria, one can offer the students a fair score on their essays based on specific learning objectives (Mertler, 2001). The scoring rubrics below have been developed to evaluate the students’ performance in writing the essay on the reason for the Civil War.

Poor Satisfactory (Needs revision) Good (Meets the standards) Excellent (exceeds the expectations)
Editorial/ Mechanical aspects of writing Punctuation The student violates basic punctuation (full stops and commas) The student follows basic punctuation rules, yet commas in complex and compound sentences are not in their places The student follows basic punctuation rules. The student follows basic punctuation rules; the student is also able to use rarely occurring punctuation marks, e.g., a semicolon.
Verb Tense The student makes more than five mistakes on the choice of the tense form. The student makes 3 to 4 mistakes on the tense form. The student makes 1 to 2 mistakes in the choice of the tense form. The student makes 0-1 mistakes; the choice of the tense form helps define the paper stylistic features.
Clarity The student creates more than five sentences that do not make sense. The student develops a clear general idea, yet most sentences are clumsy. The student structures sentences well. The student structures sentences well and uses the sentence structure as a means of stylistic expression.
Spelling The student makes 10 or more spelling mistakes The student makes 7–10 spelling mistakes The student makes 6–3 spelling mistakes The student makes 3 or less spelling mistakes
Content-related aspects of the essay Viewpoints considered The student considers only one/two reasons for the Civil War The student considers three/four viewpoints on the Civil War The student considers five different reasons for the Civil War r The student considers five reasons for the Civil War and chooses the most plausible one based on his/her research.
Representation of the information The student provides no basic information (people and dates) (2 or fewer facts have been provided). The student provides most of the basic information (people and dates), yet 2–3 key facts are missing The student provides key information (people and dates). The student provides the key information (people and dates), as well as supplementary information
Terminology and its definition The student uses no basic Civil War-related terms The student uses the key terms (e.g., “slavery,” “abolitionist,” etc.), yet have not been defined The student uses the key terms (e.g., “slavery,” “abolitionist,” etc.) and defines them The student not only uses and defines the key terminology but also considers other topic-related terms (e.g., “mobilization,” “Trans-Mississippi,” etc.)
Sources The student has not used any credible sources or did not reference the sources in his/her paper. The student has used one source to ground his/her deductions on and/or reference the sources the wrong way (APA standards). The student has used at least two sources that allow for an objective analysis of the Civil War reasons. The student has gone beyond the task requirements and researched the issue deeper with the help of other substantial resources.

As the table above shows, though essays come in a large variety, one can distill the evaluation parameters for a specific essay and assess the students’ performance easily, according to both the basic standards and the specific task requirements (Moskal, 2000). A good way to figure out if the students can carry out simple research, the table above can also help the students understand the essay demands, which means that the evaluation standards work well.

Reference List

Mertler, C. A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(25). Web.

Moskal, B. M. (2000). Scoring rubrics: What, when and how? Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(3). Web.