Standard Essay Grading Rubric






Style/Mechanics MLA Style*


Demonstrates unusual Competence

Excellent thesis, supported with evidence and reasons Theme is unified; good transitions; logical development Appropriate, fresh, precise, concise, expressive; concrete language for abstract ideas No gross errors; no repetition; writing well above the average in all respects Correct usage of parenthetical documentation and quotes from text; works cited page correctly formatted; correct title; citations spaced and entered correctly


Demonstrates competence

Central idea better than average; minimal errors Paragraphs clear but some vague transitions; ideas are good but may not be in tight sequence Clear but some tone problems; slips into colloquial at times. No spelling errors; few mechanical errors; mild repetition Parenthetical documentation is present but with some errors; works cited page contains a few mistakes  in format or constructing citations according to MLA Style


Coherent but commonplace; average for college writing

Average content with a general presentation of ideas Poor paragraphs mixed with good paragraph sequence; abrupt shifts in thought; wanders off topic at times Vague, trite at times; inappropriate and/or uneven quality Dead sentences; no apparent life to the writing; spelling or mechanical errors made more than once. Poor parenthetical documentation; failure to adhere to MLA Style; serious errors in works cited format; adheres somewhat to MLA Style; citations present but poorly constructed   


Suggests incompetence

Thesis carelessly thought out; inconsistent pattern or poor development of ideas Misleading introduction; carelessly developed paragraphs; some illogical development; weak conclusion Unclear thoughts; informal tone; poor proofreading techniques; some slang Serious errors; frequent spelling mistakes; gross errors: fragments/comma splices/fused sentences Serious errors in parenthetical documentation; serious errors on works cited page; serious errors constructing citations


Demonstrates incompetence

No apparent thesis or a thesis so unclear and inadequate that it cannot be supported Argument not clearly apparent; inadequate and/or incoherent organization Gross errors in diction and errors in to, too, its, it's, their, there, then, than; slang Appears illiterate; some serious and gross errors and mistakes made more than once; numerous errors No parenthetical documentation or disregard for MLA Style requirements; no works cited page or gross mistakes on works cited page; no citations or gross errors constructing citations

 * Use of MLA Style is not required on all essay assignments.

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