ESL Essay Writing Rubric

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Scoring essays written by English learners can at times be difficult due to the challenging task of writing larger structures in English. ESL / EFL teachers should expect errors in each area and make appropriate concessions in their scoring. Rubrics should be based on a keen understanding of English learner communicative levels. This essay writing rubric provides a scoring system which is more appropriate to English learners than standard rubrics. This essay writing rubric also contains marks not only for organization and structure, but also for important sentence level mistakes such as the correct usage of linking language, spelling, and grammar.

Essay Writing Rubric

Category 4 - Exceeds Expectations 3 - Meets Expectations 2 - Needs Improvement 1 - Inadequate Score
Understanding of Audience Demonstrates a keen understanding of the target audience, and uses appropriate vocabulary and language. Anticipates probable questions and addresses these concerns with evidence pertaining to probable potential readers. Demonstrates a general understanding of audience and uses mostly appropriate vocabulary and language structures. Demonstrates a limited understanding of audience, and generally uses appropriate, if simple, vocabulary and language. Not clear which audience is intended for this writing.
Hook / Introduction Introductory paragraph begins with a statement that both grabs the attention of the reader and is appropriate to the audience. Introductory paragraph begins with a statement that attempts to grab the attention of the reader, but is incomplete in some sense, or may not be appropriate to the audience. Introductory paragraph begins with a statement that might be construed as an attention getter, but is not clear. Introductory paragraph does not contain a hook or attention grabber.
Theses / Main Idea Structuring Introductory paragraph contains a clear thesis of main idea with clear suggestions as to how the body of the essay will support this thesis. Introductory paragraph contains a clear thesis. However, the following support sentences are not necessarily, or only vaguely connected to the body paragraphs. Introductory paragraph contains a statement that may be construed as a thesis or main idea. However, there is little structural support in the following sentences. Introductory paragraph contains no clear thesis statement or main idea.
Body / Evidence and Examples Body paragraphs provide clear evidence and ample examples supporting thesis statement. Body paragraphs provide clear connections to thesis statement, but may be need more examples or concrete evidence. Body paragraphs are vaguely on topic, but lack clear connections, evidence and examples of thesis or main idea. Body paragraphs are unrelated, or marginally connected to essay topic. Examples and evidence is weak or nonexistent.
Closing Paragraph / Conclusion Closing paragraph provides a clear conclusion successfully stating the author's position, as well as containing an effective restatement of the main idea or thesis of the essay. Closing paragraph concludes essay in satisfactory manner. However, author's position and / or an effective restatement of main idea or thesis may be lacking. Conclusion is weak and at times confusing in terms of author's position with little reference to main idea or thesis. Conclusion is nonexistent with little or no reference to proceeding paragraphs or author's position.
Sentence Structure All sentences are well constructed with very few minor mistakes. Complex sentence structures are used effectively. Most sentences are well constructed with a number of mistakes. Some attempts at complex sentence structure are successful. Some sentences are well constructed, while others contain serious errors. Use of complex sentence structure is limited. Very few sentences are well constructed, or sentence structures are all very simple.
Linking Language Linking language is used correctly and often. Linking language is used. However, mistakes in exact phrasing or usage of linking language is evident. Linking language is seldom used. Linking language is almost never or never used.
Grammar and Spelling Writing includes no or only very few minor errors in grammar, spelling. Writing includes a relatively small number of errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation. However, reader's understanding is not impeded by these errors. Writing includes a number of errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation which, at times, hinders reader's understanding. Writing includes numerous errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation which makes reader's understanding difficult.
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Beare, Kenneth. "ESL Essay Writing Rubric." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Beare, Kenneth. (2020, August 27). ESL Essay Writing Rubric. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "ESL Essay Writing Rubric." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 29, 2023).