Essay Grading Criteria

The following guidelines will be utilized in assigning grades to essays as well as speeches:

A PAPER: Perhaps the principle characteristic of the A paper is its rich content. The information delivered is such that one feels significantly taught by the author, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph. The A paper is also marked by stylistic finesse: the title and opening paragraph are engaging; the transitions are artful; the phrasing is tight, fresh, and highly specific. The A paper, because of its careful organization and development, imparts a feeling of wholeness and unusual clarity.

B PAPER: This paper is significantly more than competent. Besides being almost free of mechanical errors, the B paper delivers substantial information--that is, substantial in both quantity and interest-value. Its specific points are logically ordered, well developed, and unified around a clear organizing principle that is apparent early in the paper. The opening paragraph draws the reader in; the closing paragraph is both conclusive and thematically related to the opening. Transitions between paragraphs are for the most part smooth; sentence structure is pleasingly varied. A B paper makes the reading experience a pleasurable one, for it offers substantial information with few distractions.

C PAPER: It is generally competent; it meets the assignment, has few mechanical errors, and is reasonably well organized and developed. The actual information it delivers, however, seems thin and commonplace. The opening paragraph does little to draw the reader in; the final paragraph offers only a perfunctory wrap-up; the transitions between the paragraphs are often bumpy; the sentences tend to follow a predictable subject-verb-object pattern; diction is occasionally marred by unconscious repetitions, redundancy, and imprecision. The C paper, then, while it gets the job done, lacks both imagination and intellectual rigor, and hence does not invite a rereading.

D PAPER: Its treatment and development of the subject are as yet only rudimentary. While organization is present, it is neither clear nor effective. Sentences are frequently awkward, ambiguous, and marred by serious mechanical errors. Evidence of careful proofreading is scanty, if not nonexistent. The whole piece, in fact, often gives the impression of having been conceived and written in haste.

F PAPER: Its treatment and development of subject is superficial; its theme lacks discernible organization; its prose is garbled or stylistically primitive. Mechanical errors are frequent. In short, the ideas, organization, and style fall far below what is acceptable college writing.