Professor Brad Lewis, Union College
(adapted from Prof. A. Frazier)

GRADING STANDARDS FOR ESSAYS

Your papers will be assigned grades based on the following scoring guide:

“A” Paper: The essay presents an original and logical thesis in response to the assigned topic, demonstrates a high degree of writing and thinking competence, but may reveal a few very minor problems. An essay in this category…

  • is well organized.
  • uses clear, accurate definitions and excellent word choice.
  • includes well-developed examples of major ideas and integrates relevant evidence in support of the analysis.
  • employs a variety of appropriate sentence structures.
  • is virtually free from errors in mechanics, usage, spelling, and/or proofreading.

“A-/B+” Paper: The essay presents an arguable thesis logically in response to the assigned topic, demonstrates a high level of writing and thinking competence, but may reveal some minor problems. An essay in this category…

  • is well organized but may have some minor structural difficulties
  • uses accurate definitions and demonstrates a clear facility with words.
  • includes developed examples of major ideas and integrates relevant evidence in support of the analysis.
  • employs a variety of appropriate sentence structures
  • is generally free from errors in mechanics, usage, spelling, and/or proofreading.

“B” Paper: The essay presents an arguable thesis logically in response to the assigned topic, demonstrates some writing and thinking competence, but may reveal some minor problems. An essay in this category…

  • is fairly well organized
  • uses generally accurate definitions and competent word choice
  • includes somewhat developed examples and generally integrates some relevant evidence in support of the analysis.
  • employs some variety of appropriate sentence structures
  • may display some errors in mechanics, usage, spelling, and/or proofreading, but exhibits no consistent pattern of such errors.

“B-/C+” Paper: The essay presents a thesis in response to the assigned topic, demonstrates occasional writing and thinking competence, and may reveal some problems, but reveals no consistent patterns of such problems. An essay in this category…

  • is adequately organized
  • uses some accurate definitions and acceptable word choice
  • sometimes includes partially developed examples and occasionally relevant evidence in support of the analysis.
  • may display some errors in mechanics, usage, spelling, and/or proofreading, but exhibits no consistent pattern of such errors.

“C” Paper: The essay presents, or at least implies, a limited thesis in response to the assigned topic, demonstrates some writing and thinking competence, but is clearly flawed. An essay in this category reveals at least one of the following weaknesses:

  • inadequate and/or illogical organization, or
  • inadequate or undeveloped definitions, or
  • partially developed examples in support of the major ideas and/or absence of relevant evidence, or
  • a pattern of accumulation of errors in mechanics, usage, spelling, and/or proofreading, or
  • a plot summary predominates instead of argument.

“C-“ Paper: The essay proposes an inadequate thesis, or no coherent thesis, in response to the assigned topic and reveals serious flaws in writing or thinking. An essay in this category displays more than one of the following weaknesses:

  • very little and/or illogical organization
  • an absence of examples and/or inadequate definitions
  • a pattern of significant errors in mechanics, usage, spelling, and/or proofreading
  • plot summary with little analysis.

“D/F” Paper: The essay proposes no relevant thesis nor response to the assignment and demonstrates fundamental deficiencies in writing and/or thinking skills. An essay in this category displays several of the following weaknesses:

  • no discernible organization
  • incoherent, inaccurate, and/or undeveloped ideas and definitions and word choice
  • persistent major errors in mechanics, spelling, and proofreading.

An essay which offers nothing but plot summary, no response to the assigned topic, or a response to a topic not assigned, will receive a “D” or and “F” no matter how well written it may be.