Table of Contents

Grading Submissions


Grading interface for a sample question and submission, showing the student submission on the left, the rubric on the right, and navigation actions at the bottom

To begin grading, go to the Grade Submissions tab and click on the question that you would like to grade. There are three core components to the grading page. They are the student submission area, the rubric, and the bottom action bar.



Rubrics allow you to grade quickly and consistently, applying the same set of feedback to every submission. Gradescope rubrics are created for each individual question.

Your rubrics can be created and edited at any time, either from the Create Rubric page or the grading interface. When creating your assignment, you’ll be given the option to:

  • Create your rubric before student submission (Gradescope Complete and institutional feature), or
  • Create your rubric while grading submissions.

Creating a rubric before student submission

Creating rubrics before student submission is available with institutional site licenses and for individual courses subscribed to Gradescope Complete. If you have any questions about getting access for your account, please send us an email.

Rubrics can be created while you are setting up the assignment, before it is released to students.  When creating your assignment, the rubric creation setting is automatically set for rubrics to be created during the grading stage; change that to Before student submission. Continue creating your assignment as you normally would.

Creating rubrics before student submission is not possible for Bubble Sheet Assignments (where rubrics for each question are auto-generated by Gradescope) or for Programming Assignments that only have a code autograder component.
assignment settings

Once you have finished creating your Assignment Outline, you will be directed to the Create Rubric page. Rubric items can be created for every question, or a selection of specific questions. If any questions do not receive a rubric on this page, one can be created later or during grading. 

Templated and Online assignments will display a preview of each question, while variable length and programming assignments will list each question. If you have existing rubric items in other courses or assignments, select Import to reuse them. 

Online Assignments will contain pre-loaded “Correct” and “Incorrect” rubric items for any multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions. You can add rubric items to these questions if needed; however, editing or deleting these pre-loaded rubric items will interfere with the auto-grading of these questions.

Any rubric additions or edits will be automatically updated within the grading interface to maintain consistency. 

Previews of templated and variable length rubric views

Creating a rubric while grading

Rubrics can be created while grading student submissions. When you are ready to begin grading, access the Grade Submissions tab of the assignment and select a question. A blank rubric is displayed to the right of the submission. If you have existing rubric items in other courses or assignments, select Import to reuse them. 

Online Assignments will contain pre-loaded “Correct” and “Incorrect” rubric items for any multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions. You can add rubric items to these questions if needed; however, editing or deleting these pre-loaded rubric items will interfere with the auto-grading of these questions.

Any rubric additions or edits will be automatically updated within the Create Rubric page, which can be accessed in the left sidebar of the assignment. 
Preview of a blank rubric within the Grading Submission interface

Changed your mind and want to create rubrics straight away? Simply return to the assignment and select the Create Rubric option in the left sidebar. 

Rubric basics

Rubrics are made up of one or multiple Rubric Items. Rubric Items contain a number of points as well as a description for the point value. 

Example rubric containing three rubric items

To grade a submission using your rubric, select the appropriate rubric item (the box with a number in it) or type the number on your keyboard corresponding to the rubric item. At least one rubric item must be applied for the question to be considered graded, and you can select as many rubric items as you’d like for each submission. If you have existing rubric items in other courses or assignments, select Import to reuse them. To condense your rubric items or fit more on the screen, select Collapse View.

Rubrics can be edited at any time, either from the Create Rubric page or from the grading interface. If too many points were awarded or deducted for a particular rubric item, it can be edited and Gradescope will automatically apply those changes to the other students who received the same mark. The order of the rubric items can be changed by using your mouse to click and drag into their new position. To create a new line within the description of a rubric item, select Shift + Enter on your keyboard.

To move to the next submission for the same question, select Next Ungraded. Moving to the next ungraded submission avoids more than one staff member grading the same submission at the same time.

Diagram showing the anatomy of a rubric

Positive and negative scoring

By clicking on Rubric Settings, you will see that we support two different styles of grading. Positive Scoring means that rubric items default to adding points, starting from 0. On the other hand, with Negative Scoring (the default mode), rubric items default to subtracting points from the total points available for that question. If you want to have a rubric item that has the opposite effect of the default scoring style, you can change the sign before the point value from a minus (-) to a plus (+) or vice versa.


Point floors and ceilings

There are also options for a point ceiling to prevent scores greater than 100% and a point floor to prevent scores less than 0%. These are both enabled by default so that you don’t get scores out of the expected range, but you can disable them for extra credit questions, late penalties, or other situations where you don’t want the default behavior. You can set assignment-wide defaults for the scoring scheme and score bounds from the Settings page in the left sidebar.


Importing rubrics

You can copy a question's rubric items and rubric settings and reuse them in a different assignment or in a different question in the same assignment. On Gradescope Basic courses, importing rubrics is restricted to courses within the same term. With an institutional site license or on a Gradescope Complete course, you can import rubrics from any course in any term. Here's how to reuse and import a rubric.

How do I import an entire assignment? If you want to reuse and import an entire assignment, see the Duplicating an assignment article instead.
  1. With the rubric up on your screen for a particular question, click Import… This will bring up a dialog box containing your courses, assignments in each course, and all question rubrics for each assignment.
  2. Select the course, then the assignment, and finally the question rubric you'd like to import.
  3. Then, click the Import Rubric button to copy it into your assignment.


Formatting rubric items

If you'd like, you can use Markdown in rubric items to insert images, clickable links, code blocks, tables, bulleted and numbered lists, YouTube videos, bold/italicize text, and more. Simply click on the rubric item description box and either select one of the provided options or insert your custom Markdown command (see the gif below). For tips on using Markdown, check out the article on Formatting Text (Markdown).

Additionally, you can use LaTeX to add math symbols in rubric items, comments, text annotations, answer group names, and regrade requests and responses. For more details, check out the article on Writing Formulas and Equations (LaTeX).

Instructor using markdown in rubric items

Extra credit, bonus points, and penalties

Adjusting individual feedback and points

Rubric items are consistent for each question, which means that you can apply them to any number of submissions. However, sometimes you want to give local, individual feedback on a submission (e.g., you want to give one student extra credit or bonus points on one question). You can do this with Submission Specific Adjustments which allow you to add or subtract points as well as provide specific comments to the submission. To create a line or paragraph break in your comment, use Shift + Enter.

If you would like to see which submissions a specific rubric item has been applied to, you can click on the magnifying glass icon next to the rubric item.

The question navigation menu (top left of the rubric) allows you to move to a different question. Click on the question title and a drop-down menu of questions will appear, allowing you to jump to another part of the assessment.

Adjusting points assignment-wide
  1. If you need to, you can adjust points for an entire assignment after students have submitted (e.g., if you would like to give every student extra credit or bonus points). To do that, first go to the assignment, click Edit Outline in the left sidebar, and create a new question. It's recommended that you title the question something to indicate that it's an assignment-wide point adjustment. Give that question an overall point value of 0.
  2. Next click Grade Submissions in the left sidebar. Go to the first submission for this new question. On the first submission, click Rubric Settings. In the Rubric Settings, set the scoring type to positive scoring (to add points) or negative scoring (to subtract points), and disable the point floor and point ceiling.
  3. Then create a rubric item for this question that adds or subtract the number of points you want to add or subtract from every submission.
  4. Go through and apply this rubric item to each student. You can do this more quickly with keyboard shortcuts (click the "1" key on your keyboard to select the rubric item and click the "z" key to go to the next student). If this is a templated assignment, you can also use Manual Answer Grouping to assign all students' answers to one group and apply a rubric item or point adjustment to all students with a single click.
  5. When you're finished, all students will get a score out of 0 on this extra question, and their total assignment scores will go up or down by however many points you set for the rubric item on this extra question.


Rubric item groups

Rubric item groups give a wide variety of ways to structure your rubric while maintaining speed with keyboard shortcuts. You can batch similar rubric items together, provide more qualitative feedback on a sliding scale, easily grade multipart questions at once, and better communicate how points are awarded or taken off by providing more specific rubric items.

Rubric item groups are available with institutional site licenses and for individual courses subscribed to Gradescope Complete. If you have any questions about getting access in your course, please send us an email.

To create a rubric item group, click the “Create Group” button right next to “Add Rubric Item”. On smaller screens, click the additional actions button to reveal the action.

Buttons showing how to create rubric item groups

Once created, you can give a description for the group and create sub-items. You can also drag existing rubric items in and out of groups.

Mutually exclusive rubric groups
Radio option to change the style of rubric items within a group - select one or select many

By default, graders can select multiple rubrics items within a group. However, if you want to limit selection to only one item, you can toggle the Selection Style from the settings menu to the right of the group name.

Interaction tips

Use keyboard shortcuts! Rubric item groups are made with speed in mind and you can use keyboard shortcuts to expand and collapse groups. You can also use the escape key to get out of any group. Alternatively, if you wish to quickly jump to the next group, press the keyboard shortcut to open that group. 

Example: Press “2” to open the group, press “Q” to apply the first rubric item, Press “3” to open the next group, etc..



When you grade Homework/Problem Set or Exam/Quiz assignments, you will have access to various annotation tools to allow graders to mark on a student’s submission. Students can see these marks, which can help them identify what part of the submission you want them to focus on. If you'd like to, you can also use LaTeX to add math symbols in comments, text annotations, answer group names, and regrade requests and responses. For more details, check out our article on Writing Formulas and Equations (LaTeX).

Annotation tools for Homework and Exam submissions

  • The navigation tool will help you place your annotations in the right spot by allowing you to click and drag to move around the submission.
  • The text tool T (shown in gif below) allows you to type comments directly on the submission. After selecting it, click anywhere on the page to add text anchored to that spot. Or, to quickly add text from the navigation tool, just double-click on the page. Text annotations will be autosaved and can be reused.
Text annotation tool availability: Please note that the text annotation tool is only available with an institutional site license or for individual courses subscribed to Gradescope Complete. If you have any questions about getting access, please email
Instructor adding a reusable text annotation to a submission
  • The pencil tool allows you to mark freeform on the submission.
  • The box tool allows you to draw boxes by clicking and dragging to create rectangles on top of the submission.
  • The eraser tool allows you to click on any annotation to remove it.

Giving feedback and reusing comments

When using the Navigation or Text annotation tool, you are able to provide personalized feedback by adding comments as well as assigning them to rubric items. 

  1. With a student's submission open in the grading interface, use your cursor to select where you want to place your annotation (click once when using the Text annotation tool or twice when using the Navigation tool). A small text box with Rubric and Comments tabs in it will appear. The Rubric tab will be open by default the first time you leave an annotation but will continue to default to the last tab you used. 
  2. To link your annotation to a rubric item/rubric item group, scroll through the text box and select the relevant rubric item or group. When you link your annotation to the rubric, the rubric item will be applied by default. You can un-apply the rubric item if you wish by clicking on it on the rubric or using the corresponding number key on your keyboard, and the annotation will still be linked. Once you have linked to a rubric, you are given the option to leave a comment in the text box provided. To save your comment, press the Enter or Return key on your keyboard. 
  3. To add a comment that’s not associated with a rubric item, select the Comments tab in the text box and type your feedback. To save your comment, press the Enter or Return key on your keyboard. You do not need to link to a rubric in order to leave a comment. The Comments tab will be open by default the next time you leave an annotation. 
  4. You can add one rubric group/item and one comment per annotation. You can only perform one action at a time, so you will need to re-select your annotation to both link to a rubric and leave a comment. Multiple annotations can be linked to a single rubric item or rubric item group.
  5. To reuse a comment you have already added, begin creating your next annotation. When the text box appears, select the Comments tab. Your previous comments will be listed. Select a comment to reuse it. If a reused comment had a linked rubric group/item, the rubric group/item will also be linked to this annotation
  6. To remove your annotation or aspects of your annotation, you can:
    1. To remove a rubric group/item association attached to a comment while preserving the comment, double-click the annotation on the student's submission and select Clear Rubric Item. If there is a comment attached, it will remain. 
    2. To remove a comment from an annotation that’s attached to a rubric group/item while preserving the rubric association, double-click the attached comment. Move your cursor to inside the comment's text box and delete the content. Press the Enter or Return key on your keyboard. 
    3. To remove the entire annotation, select the red “X” that appears when you click the annotation - please note that this cannot be undone.

Submission Navigation

Grading by section

  1. If you haven't already, make sure you've added section names or numbers to your roster.
  2. On the Grade Submissions page (Course Dashboard > Assignment > Grade Submissions, left sidebar), hover over a question and click Submissions.
  3. When the Submissions page loads, you'll see Section listed in the header and each student's section name or number listed in their row. Click the name or number of the section you'd like to grade. This will restrict navigation to only go to students from that section and show grading progress within that section rather than overall. Clicking the Next or Next ungraded button on the grading page should take you to the next student in that section.
    To enlarge/restart the gif: Right-click on it. Then select Open Image in New Tab.

Submission view

Options for manipulating the submission view, including zooming in/out, rotating the page, and viewing a different page

When you hover your mouse over the Submission View, more options appear that let you manipulate the submission.

In the top left, you can toggle between the full page view and the question-only view. The question-only view allows you to change your view to the region that you set up during the Edit Outline step. The Full Page view allows you to see the whole page of the submission.

If a student wrote their response on a different page than the location that you expected, you can use the View Next/Previous page arrows to navigate to other pages of the submission. You can also click All Pages (bottom left) to view all the pages of the submission and jump to another page. For variable-length assignments, any pages the student selected for that question will be highlighted.

Keyboard shortcuts to speed up grading

Map of all the keyboard shortcuts on the grading page.

Once you understand the basics of interacting with Gradescope, you can speed up your workflow by using keyboard shortcuts.

  • The numbers ‘1’-‘0’ map to the rubric items that you create for each question
  • ‘z’ goes to Next Ungraded (the same question or subquestion on the next student’s submission that hasn’t been graded or isn’t currently being graded by anyone on the staff)
  • Right arrow goes to Next (the same question or subquestion on the next student’s submission), and left arrow goes to Previous
  • ‘g’ and ‘f’ zoom in and out of the student’s submission
  • ‘shift+r’ rotates the student’s submission
  • ‘,’ and ‘.’ go up and down the question outline for an individual student’s submission
  • ‘j’ and ‘k’ go to the previous and next page of an individual student’s submission
  • ‘a’ displays the list of all student submissions for a given question

To see these in action, check out the video below.

To go to your last-viewed submission, you can use the back button in your browser. You may also open multiple tabs at once to grade multiple students’ submissions at the same time.

You can visit the Question Submissions Index by clicking on the total submission count, located in the lower-left corner. You can also access this page using the “a” keyboard shortcut. This page lists all the submissions for the question that you are on. It displays information such as the grader, the score that was given, and whether a submission was graded. If you are looking for a particular student’s submission to a question, this is an easy way to find it.

Zooming tools

There are also few ways to zoom.

  • If you scroll over the submission you can zoom in/out
  • You can click the plus (+) and minus (-) button in the bottom right while hovering over the submission.
  • You can use the keyboard shortcuts f and g to zoom in/out

If you move the submission around or zoom in/out and want to save this view to be the default view for that question, you can click Save View.

What does Save View do? Saving the submission view only affects your default view of that question and will not affect other graders’ default view. If you wish to change the default view for all graders, edit the question’s region on the Edit Outline page.

Lastly, you can rotate the submission by clicking on the rotate button next to the zoom tools in the bottom right corner.


If students forgot to match questions to submission pages

When a student submits a PDF to a variable-length assignment, Gradescope will ask them to indicate which pages their answers to each question appear on in the submitted file. However, Gradescope still allows students to submit work even if they haven't matched each question to a page. Gradescope is configured this way to make sure students can turn in work even if they haven't finished the assignment and therefore can't assign questions to pages. You'll know a student turned in a PDF without assigning their questions to pages if you see an error message on your screen when you open their submission to grade it. If this is the case, below are a few tips and workarounds to fix the issue.

  • Method 1 - As long as you have not graded the submission in question, you can ask the student to assign questions to pages in their submitted file. Note that students can still assign pages even after the due date or time limit has passed, but they will not be able to once you start grading. If you haven't already, feel free to share our Get Started video on submitting PDF homework with your students. The video goes over how to properly submit homework to Gradescope and assign questions to pages.
  • Method 2 - Click through the student's submission manually to find and grade their answers. To move past the initial error message about unassigned pages, click the "K" key on your keyboard or click the All Pages button and select a page. This is recommended when anonymous grading is enabled.
  • Method 3 - Select pages on a student's behalf on the Manage Submissions page. Note that this method is only recommended if a few students did not assign questions to pages and can be tedious to do for a large group of students. For instructions on how to do this, see Matching questions to submission pages on students' behalf.

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