First-Year Preceptorial

Template for Common Paper Comments

(Note specific places in the paper that exemplify the description)

Student, Paper title

Strengths of your essay:

  1. It provides some very strong, original analysis through revealing comments that help illuminate the text. 
  2. It is nicely introduced, beginning with a broad idea, moving to the specific text in question, and then providing a clear focal
    point of your own. 
  3. It is nicely concluded to reassert the connection to the beginning and clearly state your main point, with the implications of
    your points considered.
  4. It reveals a clear familiarity with the text in question, especially through specific citations from the writing.
  5. It is well organized, with smooth transitions between the parts.
  6. It is thoughtful and focused on the topic at hand.
  7. It reveals a familiarity with the text in question.
  8. The writing is mostly clear and accessible.


  1. Number pages for written work.
  2. Provide a title to help guide your reader and note the overall focus of the writing.
  3. Elaborate on all ideas and use more precise phrases.
  4. Cite the literature directly.  Note which words and phrases help support your points.
  5. When citing the text, consistently explain in your own words how it supports your interpretation.
  6. Use an introductory paragraph to provide CONTEXT:  What expertise do you have to write about this?  If it is not a subject
     of your expertise, what ideas have you held before and how has this text affected those views?
  7. Develop the introductory paragraph a bit more to give your reader specific details of your central point in order that they
    can proceed knowing your writing aims. 
  8. Avoid a conclusion that seems to introduce a completely new topic or idea not related to your writing.  Instead, conclude by
    reasserting the connection to the beginning and clearly stating your main point, but also by pointing out to your reader the
    implications of your points.
  9. Do not repeat the introductory comments (especially word-for-word) in the conclusion; instead, in a concluding paragraph,
    aim to tell a reader why your analysis is significant, what it helps to illuminate about the subject at hand, and what further
    arenas of investigation might be.

Writing goals:

  1. Carefully consider your word choice. Aim for greater specificity, matching the tone of your words, and more varied vocabulary.
  2. Avoid plot summary.  Instead, analyze what happened and describe its significance.  You summarize a great deal from the stories. 
    Work on developing your original analysis to replace this.
  3. Help a reader connect your ideas by providing tighter transitional cues between paragraphs and ideas in paragraphs (see attached
    sheet, the Writing Center’s “Common Cues”).
  4. Vary your sentence structure for greater sophistication, so that sentences are not simply “subject, verb” constructions.
  5. Consult the “Grammar Handbook," accessible through Schaffer Library on-line.

Areas to improve:                common usage problems (comma splices)

                                                        strive for pronoun/antecedent agreement

                                                        work on consistent use of tenses (see last sentence of intro)

                                                        spell check, being careful of homophones (“new” for “knew”)

  1. Proofread before submitting a paper.