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Rubric for Assessment of the Personal Essay
(maximum of 15 points for each essay)







Thesis Statement

Well-developed introduction engages the reader and creates interest. Contains detailed background information. Thesis clearly states a significant and compelling position or belief.
Conclusion effectively wraps up and goes beyond restating the thesis. 

Introduction creates interest. Sufficient background information is provided. Thesis clearly states the position or belief.
Conclusion effectively summarizes topics.  

Introduction adequately explains the background, but may lack detail.  Thesis states the position or belief.
Conclusion is recognizable and ties up almost all loose ends.

Background details are a random collection of information, unclear, or not related to the topic. Thesis is vague or unclear.
Conclusion does not summarize main points.


Body Paragraphs

The main idea or a thesis statement is clearly defined. There may be more than one key point. Appropriate relevant information and details are shared from a variety of sources including personal experiences, observations, and prior knowledge. Supporting details are accurate, relevant, and helpful in clarifying the main idea(s).

The main idea can be identified. The writer shares relevant information, facts and experiences.  There is a clear distinction between general observations and specifics.  Supporting details are relevant and explain the main idea.

The main idea can be identified. The writer shares some information, facts and experiences, but may show problems going from general observations to specifics. Stronger support and greater attention to details would strengthen this paper.

More than one of the following problems may be evident: The main idea is not identifiable. The writer shares some information, but it is limited or unclear. Details are missing or repetitious.



Logical progression of ideas with a clear structure that enhances the thesis.  Transitions are mature and graceful.

Logical progression of ideas.  Transitions are present equally throughout essay.

Organization is clear. Transitions are present. 

No discernable organization.  Transitions are not present. Connections between ideas seem confusing or incomplete.


Writer’s Voice, Audience Awareness,

The paper is honest and enthusiastic. The language is natural yet thought-provoking. It brings the topic to life. The reader feels a strong sense of interaction with the writer and senses the person behind the words.
Writing is smooth, skillful, and coherent.  Sentences are strong and expressive with varied structure

Writer's voice is  consistent and strong.  The writer is aware of an audience. The reader is informed and remains engaged. Sentences have varied structure.


Writer's voice may emerge strongly on occasion, then retreat behind general, vague, tentative, or abstract language. The writer is aware of an audience.  The reader is informed, but must work at remaining engaged. Sentence structure shows some variety.

Writing is confusing, hard to follow.  Language is vague.  No audience awareness.  No variety in sentence structure.


Spelling, punctuation, capitalization

Punctuation, spelling, capitalization are correct.  No errors.

Punctuation, spelling, capitalization are generally correct, with few errors. (1-2)

A few errors in punctuation, spelling, capitalization. (3-4)

Distracting errors in punctuation, spelling, capitalization.



Introduction/Conclusion _______
                   Main Points _______
                Organization  _______
                             Style _______
                    Mechanics _______

Total Points ______ = grade of ______

Grade Equivalent (15 points maximum):
A =  13 - 15 points
B =  10 - 12 points
C =  7 - 9 points
D =  4 - 6 points
F =  0 - 3

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