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Rubric Grids: Essay Marking Made Easy!

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For each of these, I provide different level descriptors for 1 mark up to the maximum available for that particular essay feature. Then, it’s simply a question of shading off the correct cell in the grid and providing an explanation on the right-hand side.

The benefits of this approach are that I mark the essay much more methodically, but also much more quickly. Rather than  make one overall evaluation right at the end of the essay, I instead make separate, shorter but more focused comments about half a dozen features of the piece. This provides the students with feedback which is directly comparable to their previous essay rubric so they can spot exactly where they have improved, and where they need to focus next.

Marking Rubric for History Essays

If you have similar rubrics for other subject areas that you’d like to share on this blog, feel free to contact me!

A rubric is an explicit set of criteria used for assessing a particular type of work or performance (TLT Group, n.d.) and provides more details than a single grade or mark. Rubrics, therefore, will help you grade more objectively.

Have your students ever asked, “Why did you grade me that way?” or stated, “You never told us that we would be graded on grammar!” As a grading tool, rubrics can address these and other issues related to assessment: they reduce grading time; they increase objectivity and reduce subjectivity; they convey timely feedback to students and they improve students’ ability to include required elements of an assignment (Stevens & Levi, 2005). Grading rubrics can be used to assess a range of activities in any subject area

Elements of a Rubric

Typically designed as a grid-type structure, a grading rubric includes criteria, levels of performance, scores, and descriptors which become unique assessment tools for any given assignment. The table below illustrates a simple grading rubric with each of the four elements for a history research paper. 

Criteria identify the trait, feature or dimension which is to be measured and include a definition and example to clarify the meaning of each trait being assessed. Each assignment or performance will determine the number of criteria to be scored. Criteria are derived from assignments, checklists, grading sheets or colleagues.

Examples of Criteria for a term paper rubric

Levels of performance

Levels of performance are often labeled as adjectives which describe the performance levels. Levels of performance determine the degree of performance which has been met and will provide for consistent and objective assessment and better feedback to students. These levels tell students what they are expected to do. Levels of performance can be used without descriptors but descriptors help in achieving objectivity. Words used for levels of performance could influence a student’s interpretation of performance level (such as superior, moderate, poor or above or below average).

Examples to describe levels of performance

Levels of performance determine the degree of performance which has been met and will provide for consistent and objective assessment and better feedback to students.

Scores make up the system of numbers or values used to rate each criterion and often are combined with levels of performance. Begin by asking how many points are needed to adequately describe the range of performance you expect to see in students’ work. Consider the range of possible performance level.

Example of scores for a rubric

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 2, 4, 6, 8


Descriptors are explicit descriptions of the performance and show how the score is derived and what is expected of the students. Descriptors spell out each level (gradation) of performance for each criterion and describe what performance at a particular level looks like. Descriptors describe how well students’ work is distinguished from the work of their peers and will help you to distinguish between each student’s work. Descriptors should be detailed enough to differentiate between the different level and increase the objectivity of the rater.

Descriptors...describe what performance at a particular level looks like.

Developing a Grading Rubric

First, consider using any of a number of existing rubrics available online. Many rubrics can be used “as is.” Or, you could modify a rubric by adding or deleting elements or combining others for one that will suit your needs. Finally, you could create a completely customized rubric using specifically designed rubric software or just by creating a table with the rubric elements. The following steps will help you develop a rubric no matter which option you choose.

Begin with a performance or assignment which may be difficult to grade and where you want to reduce subjectivity.
It is suggested to start with fewer [score] levels and to distinguish between work that does not meet the criteria.

Types of Rubrics

Determining which type of rubric to use depends on what and how you plan to evaluate. There are several types of rubrics including holistic, analytical, general, and task-specific. Each of these will be described below.

All criteria are assessed as a single score. Holistic rubrics are good for evaluating overall performance on a task. Because only one score is given, holistic rubrics tend to be easier to score. However, holistic rubrics do not provide detailed information on student performance for each criterion; the levels of performance are treated as a whole.

Each criterion is assessed separately, using different descriptive ratings. Each criterion receives a separate score. Analytical rubrics take more time to score but provide more detailed feedback.

A generic rubric contains criteria that are general across tasks and can be used for similar tasks or performances. Criteria are assessed separately, as in an analytical rubric.


Assesses a specific task. Unique criteria are assessed separately. However, it may not be possible to account for each and every criterion involved in a particular task which could overlook a student’s unique solution (Arter & McTighe, 2001).

Grading rubrics are effective and efficient tools which allow for objective and consistent assessment of a range of performances, assignments, and activities. Rubrics can help clarify your expectations and will show students how to meet them, making students accountable for their performance in an easy-to-follow format. The feedback that students receive through a grading rubric can help them improve their performance on revised or subsequent work. Rubrics can help to rationalize grades when students ask about your method of assessment. Rubrics also allow for consistency in grading for those who team teach the same course, for TAs assigned to the task of grading, and serve as good documentation for accreditation purposes. Several online sources exist which can be used in the creation of customized grading rubrics; a few of these are listed below.

Arter, J., & McTighe, J. (2001). Scoring rubrics in the classroom: Using performance criteria for assessing and improving student performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. J. (2005). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group (n.d.). Rubrics: Definition, tools, examples, references. http://www.tltgroup.org/resources/flashlight/rubrics.htm

Selected Resources

Dodge, B. (2001). Creating a rubric on a given task. http://webquest.sdsu.edu/rubrics/rubrics.html

Wilson, M. (2006). Rethinking rubrics in writing assessment. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Rubric Builders and Generators

eMints.org (2011). Rubric/scoring guide. http://www.emints.org/webquest/rubric.shtml

General Rubric Generator. http://www.teach-nology.com/web_tools/rubrics/general/

RubiStar (2008). Create rubrics for your project-based learning activities. http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php

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Suggested citation

Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2012). Rubrics for assessment. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide

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essay assessment grid

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Use MCQ grids for accurate self-assessment

By Lesley Howell , Paul McDermott 2018-01-17T10:35:00+00:00

How multiple-choice questions can motivate students to assess their own confidence and knowledge – without even knowing it

Man taking own heart rate, metaphor for self-assessment in in the classroom

Source: pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

Self-assessment data is information about student progress, provided by the student. Asking students to assess their own work can improve their progress, and their understanding of learning objectives and assessment criteria. However, self-assessment data often includes learners’ opinions about their academic abilities and the progress they think they are making. How can you get a clearer picture?

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in a grid format for students to enter their answers can motivate students to self-assess correctly, and to perform better. The grid format displays question numbers (eg 1–6) down one vertical side, and the possible answer options (eg A–D) across the top.

Students distribute four marks for each question across the answer options in a strategic way to gain the best possible score. There is only one correct answer for each question. If the student is 100% confident, they give all four marks to one answer option. If they can’t decide between two options, they might give two marks to each, or split the marks three-to-one. If they have no confidence in their answer, they can give one mark to each answer option to guarantee a point.

Self-assessment multiple choice question grid

Source: Lesley Howell / Paul McDermott

Multiple choice questions can also be asked in a grid format

The marking process is easy and quick, and gives almost immediate individual feedback to students. Create a copy of the answer grid on an acetate sheet with incorrect answer boxes shaded. To mark the answer grid, place the acetate over the answer sheet and points awarded to correct answers remain visible. Copy the points in any visible boxes into an additional column. Add the points in this column to give the final score.

Students are unaware they are providing self-assessment data as they focus on maximising their score. However, their answer strategies give a clear indication of a student’s confidence.

Teachers can use these answer-grid MCQs across many educational settings, including: high- and low-stakes assessments; open- and closed-book quizzes; and end-of-semester course tests. Whatever the setting these MCQs are used in, you need to use answers in feedback discussions with students to reap the key benefit.

How to approach feedback discussions:

The answer-grid MCQ combines performance assessment, feedback, confidence estimates and incentives for students to perform into one easily administered tool. It is simple to use and allows self-assessment of knowledge and confidence, and immediate feedback on individual questions.

Download a blank version of the self-assessment grid ( word or pdf )

Self assessment answer grid 2 x 2

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Teacher and Peer Marking Grids for AQA A-Level Psychology

Last updated 17 May 2021

Here are some marking grids which are designed to help AQA A-Level psychology teachers provide more effective feedback to their students.

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The marking grids can also be used for peer-assessment.

There are two versions of each marking grid for teacher and peer assessment

(1) A standard grid

(2) A grid designed to support feedback and marking of application questions

Download the AQA A-Level Psychology marking grids

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To get started the LAN would be the main configuration for connecting the computers on each floor with star typology. Star topology will connect all nodes individually to a central connection point also known as the switch. A pro with this configuration if a cable fails only one node will be brought down and the rest will continue running. In addition, we can use twisted pair for the wire used to simply to cancel out electromagnetic interface from external sources since there will be multiple computers next to each other. The copper wire will lead to a switch connecting the devices together on the same network. This will also lead to the building backbone network. Also, known as the distribution layer, because it will be distributing network traffic to and from the LANs. Now those that we have the wire network it’s also recommended to have a wireless network in each building because many students will be using their own devices. We can simply set up 802.11 (WiFi) since we already have a wire network the campus should get by to support the users.

Gun Control Argumentative Essay

Gun control is in the forefront of the national new stemming from the mass shootings at schools and public places across the United States. Concerns have been raised both by the public and our nation’s government about gun violence and creating more strict legislation. One of the measures looked at is the use of smart technologies to make guns safer. This call for smart technologies to be incorporated into firearms has a lack of consensus on both sides of the gun control issue making smart technologies a slowly researched and developed area. For this reason, smart gun technologies should not be incorporated into gun control legislation.

Scientists have found that renewable energy is a path towards the future for a clean and safe environment. Throughout all the studies and findings, there is a continuing fret whether people should be able to use a traditional way of energy or renewable energy, solar power. Solar energy is seen to be effective since there has progressively been more places that are benefiting from solar usage; however there are also some who disagree. Solar energy sources are derived from natural sources and is implicated throughout our daily lives. From the lights in the streets to the computers we use at home. It is commonly known throughout human history that the energy used is burned from coal which creates biomass. During the Industrial Revolution, coal was an essential need to everyone, hence the discovery of oil as a substitute. Yet, the mass formation from the unearthing of oil causes more damage than benefits for the planet. Humanity had never seen a more compatible source in which came a higher demand for oil. As the public has urged to generate more oil, scientists theorized that fossil fuels will eventually run out, making way for a renewable energy route in the future (Mason). Although the scientists in the 1900s had warned the world about the shortage, many people still refuse to accept the idea that they will eventually be eventually using solar power as the only option. And each year, the debt from the consumer rate increases for every electricity company. For instance, as

Informative Essay On Electric Cars

There's a lot of buzz going on about electric cars and it seems like every hipster and eco nut trying to save the environment but do you truly know what it takes to get them on the road. The process to make the batteries is a truly dirty process and it pollutes the air. Most electric cars that are available to the general public are very expensive and most of them do not have a very far range. Somewhere between a 20-270 mile range. Also you need to live somewhere there are the charging stations or have one put in at your home. Electric car are not yet ready for it to be a practical source of transportation.

Essay On Auto Battery

The auto battery is the thing that powers all the electrical parts of the auto. It is normally a rechargeable 12 volt lead-corrosive battery that powers the electrical framework in the vehicle. This implies there are different chemicals in the battery that goes into a response when it is being used. When it is energizing, the concoction responses are turned around.

Essay On Electric Cars

Electric cars or internal combustion engine cars; which one is better? Electric cars were in their prime back in the early 1900’s, but a sudden rise in petrol engine cars, alongside with battery technology issues killed electric cars by 1920. However, with new improvements in battery technology and power electronics, electric cars have resurfaced. I will compare these different technologies, and come to understand which one is better.

Short Essay On Thermostats

Have you ever thought about how hot your dryer gets? Thermostats and thermal fuses are put in dryers for your safety and if you don 't maintain them, you could be putting yourself, your house, and your family at risk.

Electric Vehicles Essay

Electric vehicles are becoming more of everyday reality. Even living in a small town in Mississippi, I have noticed a slow but gradual increase in the number of electric vehicles present on the road. Many major car companies have decided to produce electric alternatives for consumer purchases. There are many factors going into why a person or company would decide to go green. People everywhere are switching to electric vehicles because of their nonharmful effects on the environment, availability of new charging stations, and cost-efficient charging.

Essay On Smart Home Technology

A smart home is where two physical devices interconnected to each other by remote controllers. A smart home technology called as Home automation, which provides security, comfort and energy efficiency by allowing a smartphone. The smart home hub is a device which acts as central part of the smart home and is able to sense data with wireless communication. IOT (Internet of things) plays a crucial role in smart home technology. These devices share user’s data between two devices. Raspberry Pi is the technology we use for building a smart home. Nowadays, we use technologies like Zigbee and Z-wave for protocol communication in building a smart home.

Essay On Wind Energy

For many years now, it has been debated which of the new and upcoming renewable and sustainable energy sources if the best to use. Energy create from wind, is a very favourable contented in this debate as it is a very good alternative energy source. Wind energy is used all around the world. Humanity has been using wind energy for over 100 years. For example, we used to (some still do) use the wind energy to grind grain in old fashioned wind mills.. Nowadays, we usually use the newer term called “wind turbine”.1 About four percent of the energy created in the United States comes from wind energy,2 and over 100 countries are now following in this trend and produce energy through the use of wind. This not only shows that a wind energy has great potential in the future, but also how popular it already is. It can be said that the more countries there are that using wind energy the better it is for our world. It is better because wind energy is a sustainable energy source.3

Essay On Electrical Wiring

Your electrical wiring is an important aspect of your home. And it goes without saying that having a reliable electrical wiring system that lights up and powers up your home safely should be one of your top priorities. When it comes to the materials that are used for wiring, available are plenty of options, including aluminum, copper, silver and more, with each material having its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

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