Writing Rubrics

Samples of Basic, Expository, and Narrative Rubrics

3 male students, writing in exercise books.
Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann / Getty Images

An easy way to evaluate student writing is to create a rubric. A rubric is a scoring guide that helps teachers evaluate student performance as well as a student product or project. A writing rubric allows you, as a teacher, to help students improve their writing skills by determining what areas they need help in.

Rubric Basics

To get started in creating a rubric, you must:

  • Read through the students' writing assignment completely.
  • Read each criterion on the rubric and then reread the assignment, this time focusing on each feature of the rubric.
  • Circle the appropriate section for each criterion listed. This will help you score the assignment at the end.
  • Give the writing assignment a final score.

How to Score A Rubric

To learn how to turn a four-point rubric into a letter grade, use the basic writing rubric below as an example. The four-point rubric uses four potential points the student can earn for each area, such as 1) strong, 2) developing, 3) emerging, and 4) beginning. To turn your rubric score into a letter grade, divide the points earned by the points possible.

Example: The student earns 18 out of 20 points. 18/20 = 90 percent; 90 percent = A

Suggested Point Scale:

88-100 = A
75-87 = B
62-74 = C
50-61 = D
0-50 = F

Basic Writing Rubric










  • Establishes a clear focus
  • Uses descriptive language
  • Provides relevant information
  • Communicates creative ideas
  • Develops a focus
  • Uses some descriptive language
  • Details support idea
  • Communicates original ideas
  • Attempts focus
  • Ideas not fully developed
  • Lacks focus and development
  • Establishes a strong beginning, middle, and end
  • Demonstrates an orderly flow of ideas
  • Attempts an adequate introduction and ending
  • Evidence of logical sequencing
  • Some evidence of a beginning, middle, and end
  • Sequencing is attempted
  • Little or no organization
  • Relies on single idea
  • Uses effective language
  • Uses high-level vocabulary
  • Use of sentence variety
  • Diverse word choice
  • Uses descriptive words
  • Sentence variety
  • Limited word choice
  • Basic sentence structure
  • No sense of sentence structure
  • Few or no errors in: grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation
  • Some errors in: grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation


  • Has some difficulty in: grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation


  • Little or no evidence of correct grammar, spelling, capitalization or punctuation
  • Easy to read
  • Properly spaced
  • Proper letter formation
  • Readable with some spacing/forming errors
  • Difficult to read due to spacing/forming letter
  • No evidence of spacing/forming letters

Narrative Writing Rubric









Not There Yet

Main Idea & Focus
  • Skillfully combines story elements around main idea
  • Focus on topic is profoundly clear
  • Combines story elements around main idea
  • Focus on topic is clear
  • Story elements do not reveal a main idea
  • Focus on topic is somewhat clear
  • There is no clear main idea
  • Focus on topic is not clear

Plot &

Narrative Devices

  • Characters, plot, and setting are developed strongly
  • Sensory details and narratives are skillfully evident
  • Characters, plot, and setting are developed
  • Sensory details and narratives are evident
  • Characters, plot, and setting are minimally developed
  • Attempts to use narratives and sensory details
  • Lacks development on characters, plot, and setting
  • Fails to use sensory details and narratives
  • Strong and engaging description
  • Sequencing of details are effective and logical
  • Engaging description
  • Adequate sequencing of details
  • Description needs some work
  • Sequencing is limited
  • Description  and sequencing needs major revision
  • Voice is expressive and confident
  • Voice is authentic
  • Voice is undefined
  • Writer's voice is not evident
Sentence Fluency
  • Sentence structure enhances meaning
  • Purposeful use of sentence structure
  • Sentence structure is limited
  • No sense of sentence structure
  • A strong sense of writing conventions is apparent
  • Standard writing conventions is apparent
  • Grade level appropriate conventions
  • Limited use of appropriate conventions

Expository Writing Rubric



Displays Evidence Beyond


Consistent Evidence


Some Evidence


Little/No Evidence

  • Informative with clear focus and supporting details
  • Informative with clear focus
  • Focus needs to be expanded and supporting details are needed
  • Topic needs to be developed
  • Very well organized; easy to read
  • Has a beginning, middle, and end
  • Little organization; needs transitions
  • Organization is needed
  • Voice is confident throughout
  • Voice is confident
  • Voice is somewhat confident
  • Little to no voice; needs confidence
Word Choice
  • Nouns and verbs make essay informative
  • Use of nouns and verbs
  • Needs specific nouns and verbs; too general
  • Little to no use of specific nouns and verbs
Sentence Fluency
  • Sentences flow throughout piece
  • Sentences mostly flow
  • Sentences need to flow
  • Sentences are difficult to read and do not flow
  • Zero errors
  • Few errors
  • Several errors
  • Many errors make it hard to read