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Expository Writing Rubric

These are the six factors in the rubric (for each level):

  • Ideas and insights on a limited topic
  • Use of a rhetorical strategy
  • Organization
  • Development
  • Style
  • Grammar, punctuation, and spelling

Work by an Accomplished Writer will have some or all of these qualities:

  • Offers a fresh take, full of compelling ideas or insights, on a topic that is limited to what is manageable in an essay of a certain length.
  • Makes sophisticated use of an appropriate rhetorical strategy in exploring, analyzing, and probing ideas on or perceptions of a topic.
  • Is organized so that the connection between each paragraph and the thesis is made transparent, and so that the essay progresses logically and with a sense of inevitability toward its conclusion, which seems fully justified and accounted for by what has come before.
  • Is developed with strong and continuous attention to specific detail and in a manner that examines a topic fully and convincingly.
  • Is stylistically vivid, vigorous, clear, succinct, and precise throughout.
  • Is largely free of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Work by a Proficient Writer will have some or all of these qualities:

  • Offers logically consistent and sometimes fresh and intriguing ideas or insights on a sufficiently limited topic (for an essay of a certain length).
  • Makes skillful use of an appropriate rhetorical strategy in exploring and analyzing ideas on a topic.
  • Is organized so that each paragraph relates clearly to the thesis and so that the essay moves logically toward a conclusion, which follows from what went before.
  • Is developed with continuous attention to specific detail and in a manner that sufficiently covers a topic.
  • Is stylistically skillful but is not as vivid, vigorous, clear, succinct, and/or precise as it might be.
  • May contain a few errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Work by a Satisfactory Writer will have some or all of these qualities:

  • Offers ideas on a topic but the ideas and insights are not particularly fresh or intriguing; the topic may not be sufficiently narrowed for an essay of a certain length.
  • May make use of an appropriate rhetorical strategy in exploring ideas on a topic.
  • Is not always coherently organized; it may not be clear how each paragraph relates to the thesis; the essay moves, perhaps in rambling fashion, toward a conclusion, which may not fully follow from what has gone before.
  • Is insufficiently developed; detail is often non-specific; does not do justice to the topic.
  • Is stylistically adequate (i.e., capable of basic communication) but is distinctly lacking in vividness, vigor, clarity, succinctness, or precision.
  • Contains a number of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Work by a Developing Writer will have some or all of these qualities:

  • Offers few ideas or insights on a topic; the topic is probably ill-defined and inappropriately large for an essay of a certain length.
  • Does not make adequate use of a rhetorical strategy, or may use an inappropriate rhetorical strategy.
  • Is incoherently organized; may ramble or contain distracting digressions; may or may not have a conclusion.
  • Is notably under-developed; most details are non-specific.
  • Is stylistically inadequate in every important way.
  • Contains numerous serious errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Work by a Remedial Writer will have some or all of these qualities:

  • May or may not have a discernible topic; if it does, the topic is probably impossibly large for an essay of a certain length.
  • May not use a rhetorical strategy (or the rhetorical strategy may be indiscernible).
  • Is lacking in any clear pattern of organization.
  • Is extremely under-developed; all or most details are non-specific.
  • Is stylistically out of control.
  • Contains numerous and frequent errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

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