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Writing Competency Rubric - Writing Sample Placement Test

Please note that there are four evaluation areas:

  • Purpose
  • Content
  • Clarity/Syntax
  • Conventions

Dependent upon the type and number of concerns found within an essay, a score of 1 through 4 is awarded in each of the evaluated areas. A passing score (3-indicated on the chart below) is earned when the total of the four blocks is equal to or greater than ten (10), and there is no single evaluation area of one (1). A test with a total of ten or more containing a single evaluation area of (1)  or any test with a total of  nine or fewer points is not considered a passing effort. Appropriate placement is made according to the chart below.  

 Writing Sample Placement Test Score

 Score Translation


Student of the English Language Center 


 Student is eligible to enroll in GNST 050 (Basic Writing)

Students should call the Student Success Center at 757-683-3697 and schedule a conference with a writing counselor to review their exams.


 Student is eligible to enroll in ENGL 110C (Freshman Composition)

Student has passed the initial assessment and met one of the  prerequisites for the
W-course in the major.



Advanced (4)

Accomplished (3)

Needs Improvement (2) 

Unsatisfactory (1) 


Thesis stated or implied

Unity, Coherence, and Development

Discussion brought to complete close 
A- Response is direct and advances the thesis skillfully

B- Sense of subject matter expertise is present

C- Logical sequence, smooth transitions, natural flow

D- Arguments clearly connected and highly effective

E- No contradictory or mutually exclusive statements 
A- Clearly responds to question posed; clearly stated or implied thesis

B- Understanding of topic is demonstrated

C- Logical sequence, good transitions, standard organization

D- Arguments consistently advance the author's intent

E- Few, if any, contradictory or mutually exclusive statements 
A- Attempts to address the question; poorly stated or implied thesis

B- Slight awareness of topic ; reader has a vague idea as to what to expect

C- Loose sequence; standard development patterns not used

D- Discussion drifts to a new topic

E- May contain some contradictory or mutually exclusive statements 
A- Does not address question; thesis not stated or implied

B- Purpose of paper is not readily apparent

C- Lacks logical sequencing

D- Discussion shifts from topic

E- Contains numerous contradictory or mutually exclusive statements 



A- Criteria for three (3) are met

B- Fully developed discussion points

C- Reader can easily envision the points presented

D- Writer "paints the picture" for the reader 
A- Support is sequenced logically

B- Direct connections between discussion points and purpose

C- Provides reader with sense for idea(s) presented

D- Sufficient details and explanations  
A- Contains generalized statements

B- May contain thesis and/or topic sentences

C- Reader is not provided with insight concerning points presented

D- Few amplifying details or clarifying explanations 
A- Fails to provide details and explanations

B- Generalized statements are not developed

C- Basically attempts to use broad statements as support

D- Reader cannot gain a sense of the writer's intent 

Audience Awareness

Style or Point of View shifts

Word Choice

Sentence Structures

Modifier placement


Run-on (comma splices)

Garbled/out of control sentences

Simple sentence excess 
Few, if any, errors occur

A- Shifts do not occur

B- No more than two word choice

C- One sentence structure error 
Errors may exist in several areas; no significant difficulty in a particular area

A- Five or fewer shifts in person

B- Any text containing three to five word choice errors

C- Any text containing two sentence structure errors 
Demonstrates significant difficultly in a single area

A- Six to nine shifts in person

B- Contains six to nine word choice/usage errors

C- Contains three sentence structure errors 
Demonstrates significant difficulty in two or more areas

A- Ten or more shifts in person and/or major concerns with word choice/usage and sentence structures

Demonstrates extreme difficulties in a single area

B- Ten or more word choice/usage errors

C- Four or more sentence structure errors 

Verb forms
Noun forms
Subject/verb agreement
Pronoun usage

End marks
Other punctuation
A- No subject/verb agreement errors

B- Three or fewer noun/verb form errors


C- Excluding spelling errors (WSPT only), combination of errors seven or fewer  
A- One or two subject verb agreement errors

B- Four to six noun/ verb form errors


C- Excluding spelling errors(WSPT only), combination of eight to fifteen errors  
A- Three subject/verb agreement errors

B- Seven to ten noun/verb form errors


C- Excluding spelling errors(WSPT only), combination of errors of sixteen to twenty-five errors  
A- Four or more subject/verb agreement errors

B- More than ten noun/verb form errors


C- Excluding spelling errors (WSPT only) , combination of twenty-six or more errors