Essay Rubric and Checklist

Printable Checklist: Paper-Grading-Rubric-and-Checklist


Position and Intro

After reading the introduction, does your reader understand:

  • The topic?
  • The scope?
  • Your intent?
  • The surrounding conversation and why it matters?
  • Is your position statement identifiable, with purpose and clear boundaries?
  • Is your position statement sustainable—will the position support a nuanced and satisfying paper?


Watch out for:

Unidentifiable, wishy washy, vague, or superficial position statements

A scattered intro that that crams in too much.

The Conversation

  • Have you introduced the involved materials, along with the pertinent voices?
  • Have you plainly engaged the assigned texts?
  • Have you clearly signaled each summary, paraphrase, and quotation as such?
  • Do your quoted and paraphrased passages and summaries serve your ideas?
  • Do you clearly articulate how your evidence relates (i.e. supports, develops, complicates) your claim and position?


Watch out for:

Dislocated “hit-and-run” quotes. Always connect quoted materials back to the ideas contained in your claims and position.

Writer as Driver

  • Are your ideas front and center and do they reflect a deep understanding of the texts with which you engage?
  • Do your ideas move the paper forward?
  • Do your claim sentences work to develop or support your ideas as expressed in your position?
  • Is your analysis fresh, nuanced, and honest?
  • Have you used synthesis to create new meaning?


Watch out for:

Claim sentences that use paraphrase and summary. If you find this is the case, try revising your sentences to serve your own ideas.

Losing sight of the gray areas, the complications, and messy details for the sake of an easy argument.

An insecure relationship with the reading material. Strong, active reading leads to strong analysis and new connections.


  • Does your paper follow a logical path? Does each paragraph lead naturally one to the other?
  • Is there a logical relationship between your claim sentences and the original position statement?
  • Is there a discernable relationship between your evidence and the claim sentences they support?
  • Are your paragraphs a reasonable length?
  • Does your conclusion—while rooted in your paper’s main themes—also introduce new directions for thought?


Watch out for:

“Island paragraphs” that feel dislocated from the paper’s line of logic.

One sentence paragraphs and/or paragraphs that go on for a page.

“Coyote paragraphs” that run over logical cliffs with little to no support

Repeating similar arguments in different paragraphs

Conclusions that simply repeat your essay’s main points


  • Are your sentences clean, complete, and readable? (Try reading out loud)
  • Are your words correctly spelled and punctuated?
  • Does the paper have a correctly formatted Works Cited page?
  • Does your paper follow correct MLA style when citing a source in-text?
  • Has your paper achieved the assigned word count?


Watch out for:

 Run on sentences and sentences that lose track of the subject and verb. Quite often a muddled sentence can help you identify thoughts that need further development.

 Dismissing formatting details as unnecessary. This can make your work look unprofessional.