DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

The SAT Timed Essay Rubric



Development of Position


Use of Language

Sentence Structure

Grammar and Word Usage


No plausible position is taken on the topic; severely lacking in examples, reasons and/or evidence

Disorganized; little or no focus; incoherent

Contains fundamental vocabulary mistakes

Severely flawed sentence structure

Grammar and word usage are so poor that they interfere with meaning; very poor mechanics (like punctu-ation)


Position on topic is unclear or extremely limited; inappropriate examples or reasons; insufficient evidence

Poorly organized; lacks focus; problems with coherence or flow of ideas

Poor use of language; indicates very limited vocabulary and poor word choice

Frequent problems with sentence structure

Grammar and word usage mistakes are frequent and interfere with meaning; poor mechanics


Position on topic demonstrates critical thinking skill applied inconsistently; inadequate examples, reasons or evidence

Limited in organization and focus; demonstrates lapses in coherence or flow of ideas

Displays developing use of language; contains indications of weak vocabulary and poor word selection

Some problems with sentence structure; lacks a variety of sentence structures

Contains many mistakes in grammar word usage and mechanics


Position on topic demonstrates competent critical thinking skill; example, reasons and evidence are adequate

Generally organized and focused; demonstrates some coherence and attention to the flow of ideas

Displays adequate, but inconsistent, use of language; vocabulary used is generally appropriate

Good sentence structure; demonstrates some variety of sentence structure

Contains some mistakes in grammar, word usage and mechanics


Position is effectively developed through strong critical thinking skill; examples, reasons and evidence are generally appropriate

Well organized and focused; demonstrates coherence and ideas flow well

Displays competent use of language; uses appropriate vocabulary

Good sentence structure; demonstrates variety in sentence structure

Generally free of mistakes in grammar, word usage and mechanics


Position effectively and insightfully developed through outstanding critical thinking skill; examples, reasons and evidence are clearly appropriate

Well organized and clearly focused; clearly coherent and ideas flow seamlessly

Displays skillful use of language; vocabulary is accurate and varied; words are appropriately and skillfully chosen

Good sentence structure; demonstrates meaningful and skilled variety of sentence structure

Free of most mistakes in grammar, word usage and mechanics

Source: http://ahs.attleboroschools.com/documents/SAT%20Writing%20Rubric%206.1.09.doc



Student Work: Approaching the Standard


Student 1





Student 2





Student Work: Meeting the Standard


Student 1




Student 2




Student Work: Exceeding the Standard


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Student 2






I have been looking for a rubric which would work for me and make sense to the students for several years now.  The rubrics I have seen in the past were either too cumbersome or too superficial, and they were not effective to use consistently throughout the course.


When I began student-teaching, I was determined to make my assessment criteria more transparent, so I began looking for a rubric.  I found the attached SAT rubric on line.  I do not know if it is the actual rubric used to grade SAT essays, but I liked most of its structure and language.  I used it consistently to grade most of the assignments students submitted, and I found it to be effective.


These are my observations about the rubric:


  • Pro: The language is student-friendly.  It clearly states expectations and implies how student performance can improve.
  • Con: The language can be changed to reflect history better.  I plan on doing it in the future to make sure the rubric is really connected with the subject.  For example, I think the three categories of language, sentence structure, and grammar may be compressed into two, whereas the two categories of development of position and organization (both of which are important for a strong historical argument) may be expanded and clarified in reference to social studies.


  • Pro: The rubric allowed my expectations to stay objective, consistent, and transparent. 
  • Con: The rubric alone was not sufficient to provide students with enough feedback for their work.  I wrote a lot of comments throughout the paper and in addition to the rubric.  If I wanted the rubric to help me save grading time, it failed.


  • Pro: The students knew that their performance had strengths and weaknesses.  They saw that although they may have scored lower than they wanted on the development section, their writing mechanics were strong.
  • Con: In some instances, it was more urgent to see that the students could develop and organize a historical argument than that their language was varied or that their sentence structure was good.  Although good writing skills are important in history, I think I need to tweak the rubric in the future to provide specific suggestions to historical writing.








DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.