Grading of Essays

Grading of Essays and Other Written Work

Originality and personal effort are stressed in all students written work. Plagiarism-the unacknowledged use of research sources (books, articles, Internet* etc.), commercial paper-writing services, other student papers, etc.-may result in failing the assignment and, at the discretion of the instructor, the entire course. All in-class essays, papers, essay exams, and other student writing are evaluated taking into account the following distinctions:

The A Grade

Outstanding essays feature a well-defined and manageable thesis, highly specific and relevant evidence, accurate, original, and insightful analysis. Arguments and evidence are carefully arranged and organized around central ideas lending support to the main thesis. All points are clearly and sufficiently motivated, explained, supported, and developed. The arguments and observations reveal not only close attention to details but also awareness of and ability to exploit nuances of form and signification. Whenever necessary, while probing the evidence and assessing the implications of the analysis, the writer appropriately qualifies the main and subsidiary theses. The "A" essay is an example of thinking where analysis prevails over mere paraphrase. This essay is very well written, elegant in style, and free of spelling, grammatical, and syntactical errors.

The B Grade

The "B" essay shows a very good understanding of the issues raised and adequately relates them to the textual evidence. The writer makes effective arguments and marshals appropriate and adequate support in the form of properly discussed examples and illustrations. The argument is of sufficient length, has a clear focus, and balances the general with the specific, as well as analysis with paraphrase. This type of essay shows a very good effort at organization, is clearly written, and is free of major errors in spelling, grammar, and syntax. The B essay differs from the A essay in its degree of originality, specificity, engagement of evidence, quality of reasoning, depth of vision, and overall balance in the handling of all aspects of the arguments. The writer of the B essay may show a certain tendency to ride on the strength of a particular point or observation at the expense of a fuller, richer, and more in-depth development/support of the ideas under consideration.

The C Grade

The average essay shows an adequate awareness of the nature of the problem or thesis under consideration. While showing some weakness in focusing and controlling the argument, it makes no major errors in understanding the texts involved and reveals a competent ability to relate general issues to particular examples and illustrations. The writer may overlook important aspects of the evidence, neglect to use pertinent examples, or not go far enough in interpreting and analyzing the text(s). The ideas chosen may exhibit a certain dependence on points raised and developed in class or other outside sources. Overall, this essay shows a need for development, clarification, and precision in the handling of textual evidence; its structure and organization may seem mechanical, loose, and somewhat random. This essay often tends to privilege paraphrase over analysis and may contain a number of errors in spelling, syntax, and grammar.

The D Grade

The D or below-average essay does not clearly identify its thesis; relies on unsubstantiated opinion; neglects to offer relevant evidence; or is analytically superficial and poorly organized. In general, such an essay often fails to meaningfully engage the text(s) in its own thinking process; is too short; and may seriously misread/misinterpret a text. The inadequacies of its language and reasoning substantially compromise the integrity of its analysis and the expression of its ideas.

The F Grade

The F grade is used in cases where an essay fails to address the substance of the assignment and is illogical or incoherent; exhibits gross incongruities between the thesis and the evidence used to support it; seems incapable of distinguishing between the general and the specific; shows no discernible pattern of organization; is very poorly developed; or is marred by the frequent occurrence of major errors in writing.