English 100W-2
Spring 1999
Grading Criteria for your Essays
These are the standards I will use when evaluating your essays. Clearly not every kind of paper in every category can be spelled out in precise terms, but these descriptions attempt to explain the qualities papers in each category are likely to have. I will do my best over the semester to help you realize your potential as a writer, so please consult me whenever you have questions about any aspect of the class.
A: A paper in this range speaks with a lively and intelligent voice and
has something interesting to say that goes beyond issues we have discussed
in class or casts new light on those issues. It is well-organized, fully developed,
and has few or no mechanical mistakes. Sentences are clear and unambiguous
and, ideally, stylistically elegant. When appropriate, an AA@ paper will show
detailed understanding of the texts under discussion and will support claims
with examples whenever necessary. The thesis in the best AA@ papers will
be clear, relatively complex, and immediately engaging.

B: A paper in this range has a clear thesis, effective organization, and good
continuity. Its ideas are reasonable and its claims well-supported. A AB@ paper
is solid but not striking; the writer has a definite point to make and makes
it competently. It may contain some minor mechanical errors but no major
ones; the style may be slightly awkward at times.

C: A paper in this range typically suffers from a relatively weak or fuzzy thesis;
if the thesis is solid, it goes undeveloped or problems of logic undermine
an otherwise solid effort. A AC@ paper may display some confusion about
what the text at hand actually says or insufficient understanding of the issues
under discussion. Organization may be haphazard or intermittent. If examples
are offered, they typically do not support claims. A AC@ paper will usually
contain many minor mechanical errors and perhaps some major ones.
Often potentially good ideas remain latent and the writer needs to work to make
them clear to another reader. A AC@ is not an indictment; it is an indication that
the writer needs to revise and develop the essay more thoroughly. Consulting the instructor (always a good idea) for additional help is strongly recommended.

D: A paper in this range reflects either a lack of effort or a lack of basic
writing skills. The essay either has no point to make or loses its purpose
early on. It may have no thesis, major mechanical problems, poor organization,
serious misreadings, and/or other serious shortcomings. Failure of effort is its
own reward; those with poor skills can improve by consulting the instructor
and the writing tutors at the Center for Learning, and by bearing down harder.

F: A paper in this range shows general weaknesses even graver than those
of a AD@ paper, or it is plagiarized in whole or in part.