|Rubric for Essay Exams|
|Ideas||Excels in responding to question. Interesting, demonstrates sophistication of thought. Central idea or argument is clearly communicated. Recognizes complexity of issues, may acknowledge its contradictions, qualifications, or limits. Understands and critically evaluates sources, appropriately limits and defines terms.||A solid answer, responding
appropriately to question. Clearly states a thesis/central idea, but may have minor lapses in development.
Begins to acknowledge the
complexity of central idea and the possibility of other points of view.
Shows careful reading of sources, but may not evaluate them critically.
Attempts to define terms, not always successfully.
|Adequate but weaker and less effective, possibly responding less well to question. Presents central idea in general terms, often depending on platitudes or cliches.
Usually does not acknowledge other views. Shows basic comprehension of sources, perhaps with lapses in understanding. If it defines terms, often depends on dictionary definitions.
|Does not have a clear central idea/argument or does not respond appropriately to the
question Thesis may be too vague or obvious to be developed effectively. Answer may misunderstand sources.
|Does not respond to the question, lacks a thesis or central idea, and may neglect to use sources where
|Organization||Uses a logical structure appropriate to question’s subject, purpose, audience,
thesis, and disciplinary field.
Sophisticated transitional sentences often develop one idea from the previous one or identify their logical relations. It guides the reader through the chain of reasoning or progression of ideas.
|Shows a logical progression of ideas and uses fairly sophisticated transitional devices; e.g., may move
from least to more important idea.
Some logical links may be faulty, but each paragraph clearly relates to answer’s central idea.
|May list ideas or arrange them randomly rather than using any evident logical structure. May use transitions. While each paragraph may relate to central idea, logic is not always clear. Paragraphs have topic sentences but may be overly general, and arrangement of sentences within paragraphs may lack coherence.||May have random organization, lacking internal paragraph coherence and using few or inappropriate transitions. Paragraphs may lack topic sentences or main ideas, or may be too general or too specific to be effective. Paragraphs may not all relate to question posed.||No appreciable organization; lacks
transitions and coherence
|Support||Uses evidence appropriately and effectively, providing sufficient evidence and explanation. Displays mastery of course readings, viewings, and APA citation style. Cites primarily from course readings, only using lecture notes to cover material not found in the readings.||Begins to offer reasons to support its points. Begins to interpret the course readings/evidence and explain connections between evidence and main ideas. Its examples bear some relevance. Displays good understanding of course readings, viewings, and APA citation style. Cites mostly from course readings, only using lecture notes to cover material not found in the readings.||Often uses generalizations to support its points. May use examples, but they may be obvious or not relevant.
Often depends on unsupported opinion or assumes that evidence speaks for itself and needs no application to the point being discussed. Displays adequate understanding of course readings, viewings, and APA citation style. Cites from lecture notes and/or course readings.
|Depends on cliches or
overgeneralizations for support, or offers little evidence of any kind.
May be personal narrative rather than essay, or summary rather than analysis. Displays minimal understanding of course readings and APA citation style. Cites primarily from lecture notes rather than course readings.
|Uses irrelevant details or lacks
supporting evidence entirely. May be
unduly brief. Displays no understanding of course readings or APA citation style.
|Style & Mechanics||Chooses words for their precise meaning and uses an appropriate level of specificity. Sentence style fits answer’s audience and purpose.
Sentences are varied, yet clearly structured and carefully focused. Almost entirely free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
|Generally uses words accurately and effectively, but may sometimes be too general. Sentences generally
clear, well structured, and focused, though some may be awkward or ineffective.
May contain a few errors, which may annoy the reader but not impede understanding.
|Uses relatively vague and general words, may use some inappropriate language. Sentence structure generally correct, but sentences may
be wordy, unfocused, repetitive, or confusing.
Usually contains several mechanical errors, which may temporarily confuse the reader but not impede
the overall understanding.
|May be too vague and abstract, or very personal and specific. Contains several awkward or ungrammatical sentences; sentence structure is simple or monotonous.
Contains mechanical errors or a few important errors that block the reader’s
understanding and ability to see connections between thoughts.
|Contains many awkward
sentences, misuses words, employs
Contains so many
mechanical errors that it is impossible for the reader to follow the thinking from sentence to sentence.
Designates incorrect citation style.
Titles are italicized in APA
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