Meg Mott's Grading Rubric

What she uses to grade argumentative essays


Reasons you wouldn’t pass

Reasons you would get a C-range grade

Reasons you would get a B-range grade

Reasons you would ace the assignment


No clear or emerging argument. No indication of a thesis, an opinion, or a developing idea.

Argument only becomes clear in final paragraphs or is too vague to mean anything.

Discovers a strong idea and then repeats it rather than developing it.

Introduction provides a sense of the project. Employs some independent thinking.

Begins with a clear sense of purpose. Uses persuasive rhetoric and imagery. Is self-reflective about choices made.

Use of Text

Essay does not engage with the issues raised in the text.

Passages are inserted without being used. Misreading of author’s point.

Texts are used to advance the argument and to raise important doubts.

Textual authority is woven into the argument.


No use of theoretical terms. No consideration of the implications of a theoretical argument.

Uses technical terms without explanation. Creates false dichotomies and “straw man” arguments.

Provides definitions for theoretical terms and justifies their use.

All theoretical terms are explicated. Considers theory’s influence on the argument.


Incoherent use of paragraphs. No clear development of ideas.

Paragraphs are coherent but the overall structure is not developed.

Overall structure is coherent. Paragraphs flow from one to the other.

The organization is logical, fluid, and clear, and maybe even poetic.


Disorganized sentences, constant grammatical errors. No evidence of proofreading.

Enough grammatical errors to impede meaning.

Grammatical errors and awkward sentence structure are at a minimum.

No major spelling or grammatical errors. Uses sub-headings effectively.


Use of author’s words without citation. No footnotes.

Footnotes are incomplete or use bibliographic format.

Footnotes are complete and use short form for subsequent references.

Besides being properly formatted, footnotes explain any unorthodox uses of the text.


Adapted from the “Teacher Resources: Grading Criteria” put out by the Rutgers University Writing Center. Available at: (Downloaded: 4/16/06)

Last modified: Friday, September 28, 2012, 2:33 PM