Useful Grading Rubric For a Mock Trial



grading rubric for mock trial


Doing mock trials in humanities classes is one of the very best ways for students to experience real learning that lasts.


Sending text messages back and forth will never improve their pubic speaking and critical thinking. But taking the witness chair in a murder trial and fending off hostile cross-examination in front of a room full of people certainly will!


Trials build their skills of spontaneous reasoning and refutation. Students need to learn to speak in a convincing way to sell themselves and their ideas. What could be more important for their futures?


Give a try to a trial with this rubric!


Below you’ll find a grading rubric I used extensively. It can be adapted for three large categories of assessment:

  • Public Speaking
  • Team Contribution
  • Mastery of the Facts


Three points per category, plus one for attendance, totals ten. Zero for absence or no attempt.


This rubric is described as for a witness in the trial. And you can create a separate grading rubric for the attorneys.


It follows my “rank, don’t grade approach” and is based on a 30 point scale.


Assessment Rubric for Mock Trial





Witness Played________________________



  • Demonstrates Effective Public Speaking



–poised, confident and articulate delivery;

–effective eye contact and body language;

–uses vocal inflection;

–speaks with clarity and verisimilitude;


                             3:  Superior           2: Adequate            1: Weak



  • Understands and Contributes to Team Strategy


–used class preparation time effectively;

–contributed to team legal strategy;

–was able to grasp and sustain the team’s general theory of the case;


                        3:  Superior           2: Adequate              1: Weak



  • Analytical Mastery of Facts


–no use of written notes;

–gives factually correct answers from the stipulated documents;

–addresses and refutes major arguments in the case;

–is able to explain inconsistencies;

–retains credibility under cross-examination;

–is able to apply precedents and legal principles;


                              3:  Superior           2: Adequate              1: Weak





Ranking and Raw Point Conversion


Student Total       ___   + 1       = _________




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
17 18 20 21 23 24 26 27 29 30



If this rubric helped you do something with your students, won’t you please pass it on to other teachers you know? And consider signing up for our weekly newsletter. Remember: Know something about everything, and everything about something.