Exploratory Essay Rubric

Organizing an Exploratory Essay


This resource will help you with exploratory/inquiry essay assignments.

Contributors: Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:44:38

Exploratory essays are very different from argumentative essays. In fact, an exploratory essay is likely different from any other essay you’ve written. Instead of writing to convince an audience of the validity of a thesis, you will be writing to find out about a problem and perhaps to form some preliminary conclusions about how it might be solved.

But there is another aspect the exploratory genre that is equally important. An exploratory essay is, in essence, a retrospective of your writing and thinking process as you work through a problem. It describes when, how, and why you completed certain types of research. This kind of writing is about how you work through problems that require writing and research. You will have to be introspective and think about your thinking process in order for your essay to turn out well.

Very roughly, then, your exploratory essay may follow this sort of structure:


The introduction should outline the problem you explored and why it’s important. In addition, you should briefly discuss 1) some of the problem’s possible causes; 2) the institutions and people involved with the problem; 3) some of the possible solutions to the problem. A brief overview of the types of sources your researched during your inquiry.

Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs should discuss the inquiry process you followed to research your problem. These paragraphs should include the following:

  1. Introduction of source (title, author, type of media, publisher, publication date, etc.) and why you chose to use it in your exploration
  2. Important information you found in the source regarding your problem
  3. Why the information is important and dependable in relation to the problem
  4. Some personal introspection on how the source helped you, allowed you to think differently about the problem, or even fell short of your expectations and led you in a new direction in your research, which forms a transition into your next source.


The conclusion should restate the problem you explored, outline some of its possible causes, review the institutions and people involved, and highlight some possible solutions. If you still have any questions about the problem (and it’s ok to have some), you will discuss them here. Talk about why you think you still have questions regarding the problem you explored, where you might look to answer these questions, and what other forms of research you would have to do.

Where to Look for a Free Argumentative Essay Rubric

If your teacher has not provided you with an argumentative essay rubric to help you determine which points you should include into your paper, you can find one online to use. Having a rubric is very important because it will give you some ideas on how to get the best grade on your paper.

An argumentative essay is an essay that takes a stand on a topic. It is best to use a controversial issue so that you have enough information to back up either side of the issue. When choosing a topic for your argumentative essay, be sure to find one that you can come up with at least three supporting reasons. Find a rubric online to get an idea of how to execute the writing of your paper after you have chosen a topic.

Where to look:

You can find a rubric online in pdf form. They are usually a copy of an actual rubric from another class but it will still work for your paper. The rubric is designed to show you the most efficient way to develop the type of essay that you are trying to write. Let’s look at some of the features so that you can have an idea if you are using a good one.

What it includes:

  1. Introduction including the background and history
  2. Definition of the problem
  3. Conclusion
  4. Main points
  5. Organization
  6. Resources
  7. Sentence structure
  8. Punctuation
  9. Capitalization

It will require that you have a introductory paragraph that is well developed including a detailed background with definition explanations and a thesis statement. The conclusion should summarize the main ideas with the author’s opinions and suggestions for change. It will also include well developed main points with details to support the points. There should be a paragraph that acknowledges the opposing view with the main points included. The essay should be set up so that it flows nicely. It should enhance the thesis. There should be transitions to make changing topics flow nicely for the reader. The reader should know without a doubt what your three reasons are and what your main topic is. The sources should work in the text and not just be thrown in there. They should also be documented in accordance with the chosen formatting style. The sentence structure should be accurate and there should not be any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors.

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