First-Year Preceptorial

Short Guide to Academic Grading Standards for Essays



“A”  An essay graded “A” is excellent in content and style.  It expresses thoughtful and interesting ideas, depth of insight, and attempts to think things through from a variety of perspectives.  It is carefully organized around a clear central thesis, which is consistently supported, and its argument is well-developed.  Its paragraphs are coherent and well-developed, with transitions that are easily followed.  Sentences are varied and consistently correct.  Vocabulary is mature and well suited to the topic and reader.  The “A” paper is perfect or nearly perfect in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and documentation. 

“B” An essay graded “B” displays many of the characteristics of the “A” paper, but to a lesser degree.  It satisfies the requirements of the assignment, but not in an exemplary way.  It is competent but not quite as insightful or thoughtful as an A paper.  Its writing, though correct and clear, may be somewhat less graceful and vivid.  Some paragraphs may be lacking in development.  It contains very few errors in the mechanics of writing.

“C”  The “C” essay is generally organized according to a recognizable plan, but transitions from point to point are less graceful than those found in A or B papers.  The thesis may not be clearly expressed.  The introduction and conclusion may lack the vitality of an A or B essay.  Paragraphs lack development.  Documentation may be incorrect.

“D”  The “D” essay is generally poorly organized with inadequately developed ideas.  It may contain errors in mechanics that make it difficult, though not impossible, to follow.

“F”  An essay graded “F” fails to meet even minimally the requirements of the assignment.  It may be unclear, undeveloped, and difficult to follow.  It may lack a central focus.  Paragraphs are undeveloped and lack organization.  Language errors seriously hinder the communication of ideas.