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Marking High School Writing


The most difficult part of homeschooling high school is the marking, and the most difficult part of that is marking my teens’ writing.  How can I be objective?  How can I be sure I am not being too strict?  How can I be sure I am not being too lenient? 


Last year we discovered ready-made marking schemes.  They come in two forms, the standard marking scheme we all grew up with, and grid-like tables called rubrics.  Good marking schemes make grading wonderfully easy and I love textbook answer keys that have a rubric for each assignment, such as the Bob Jones high school literature program.


But often when I assign a project or when the children hand in one that was not assigned—and this does happen—I have to make or find the marking scheme myself.  The internet is full of grid-like rubrics and some of them are useful as a guide, but many are substandard, and therefore confuse the marking process.  I have found a high school science report rubric  that I can use by weighting the criteria.


Other than that, I prefer to make my own marking schemes, although you may be able to find what you like by searching the internet. At this stage, making a grid is more work than I can manage.  Having used several grids over the past year, however, has taught me what is important in a piece of writing.  Now making a simple marking scheme for a project is not too difficult.



Here are the three most important factors in making your own marking schemes. 


1) You must know the purpose of the project you’re planning to mark. 

For example, if the purpose of the assignment is to learn writing skills, mechanics and style will have greater weight than if the goal is to research an historical event.


2) You must take into account the expected skill level. 

A high school book report would normally require literary or content analysis rather than a simple reporting of events. However, if the book read is in a foreign language at a level above your teen’s learning, an accurate understanding of content is a significant accomplishment.


3) You must relax about the marks you assign, because they are not really that important. 

  • If you’re grading the project to help the student improve his or her writing, the actual mark is almost irrelevant.  Looking at your detailed marking scheme, your teen will realize that improvement is needed in certain areas, and you will have gone a long way to meeting the goal of improved writing. 
  • If you’re grading the project to prepare a transcript for college admission, you must remember that parent-assigned marks will probably be not be highly respected and independent assessment will probably be required…although you do need marks to put on that transcript.


I hope that our experience will minimize your marking woes.  If I missed an important point or if you have additional insight, please share by leaving a comment.  Thank you.


Have a great day and see you later for another Tea Time with Annie Kate. 



  1. Anonymous says:

    Don't be afraid to mark up their work. My kids thought I was way too tough on them when it came to writing (my red pen is infamous!) But my son stopped complaining after graduating from college with honors…..said many of his profs complimented his papers 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    that was me, forgot to put my name!



  3. AnnieKate says:

    Thank you for your reminder to mark up my teens' writing. I've been using pencil, and this gets me over the "I don't want to mark up this work my child has done!" syndrome. Somehow, I don't think I could make as many marks if I used a red pen. 🙂

    Annie Kate

  4. proverbsmama says:

    Annie Kate, this is such a great post that I am going to link my homeschool spotlight thread to it next week! Perhaps you'll get more "traffic" on your blog.


  5. AnnieKate says:

    Wow! Thank you so much!

    I've been struggling a lot with marking, and it really helped me to write this post.

    Annie Kate

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