A An A paper is exceptional work that more than fulfills the requirements of the assignment. This essay tackles the topic in an innovative way, with a clear sense of audience and purpose, an insightful thesis, and an appropriate and effective organization. The structure is carefully planned; each section of the essay develops the thesis with logical arguments and specific, conclusive evidence which has been interpreted and clearly related to the writer's point. The style is energetic and precise: the sentence structure is varied and the words are carefully chosen. How the writer says things is as excellent as what the writer says. There is evidence of careful editing since the essay contains few grammatical and/or mechanical errors and, if necessary, is correctly documented using MLA format.
B A B paper is clearly above-average and more than meets the requirements of the assignment. Like the "A" paper, it has a clear thesis and organizational strategy; and each paragraph provides unified, coherent, and developed support for its thesis and subordinate assertions. If necessary, it properly documents sources. While the essay takes some "risks," attempts complex strategies of development, and pays attention to audience, it falls short of the "A" essay in one or more of the following ways: the thesis may not be as interesting or insightful; there may be weaknesses in organizational strategy or its execution; the support may not be uniformly conclusive and convincing; and the style may not be as energetic or the diction as thoughtful. The essay shows strong evidence of editing since there are relatively few grammatical and/or mechanical errors.
C A C paper is average work that solidly meets the requirements of the assignment. The essay has a thesis and organizational plan which demonstrate thought on the writer's part, a generally clear style, an awareness of audience, and adequate documentation, if required. Paragraphs contribute unified and coherent support, but the writer may have difficulty with any of the following: the thesis may be too general; the evidence may be predictable, may not be thoroughly interpreted, or may not be clearly related to the writer's point; the paragraphs may be uneven in development and transition. Even in the "C" essay, there should be relatively few grammatical or mechanical errors--not enough to interfere with readability; the student has done some editing, even though it may be superficial.
D A D paper is below average work that demonstrates a serious attempt to fulfill the assignment and shows some promise but does not fully meet the requirements of the assignment. The essay may have one or several of the following weaknesses. It may have a general or implied thesis; but the idea may be too broad, vague, or obvious. Awareness of audience may not be evident. The organizational plan may be inappropriate or inconsistently carried out. Evidence may be too general, missing, not interpreted, irrelevant to the thesis, or inappropriately repetitive. Documentation may be incomplete or inaccurate. The style may be compromised by repetitive or flawed sentence patterns and/or inappropriate diction and confusing syntax. Grammatical and mechanical errors may interfere with readability and indicate a less-than-adequate attempt at editing or unfamiliarity with some aspects of Standard Written English.
F An F paper is substantially below average for the assignment. It exhibits one or several of the following. It may be off-topic. It may be an attempt to meet the requirements of the assignment, but it may have no apparent thesis or a self-contradictory one, or the essay's point is so general or obvious as to suggest little thinking-through of the topic. It may display little or no apparent sense of organization; it may lack development; evidence may be inappropriate and/or off-topic or may consist of generalizations, faulty assumptions, or errors of fact; it may display little or no awareness of audience. This essay may fail to handle borrowed material responsibly and/or to document appropriately. The style suggests serious difficulties with fluency which may be revealed in short, simple sentences and ineffective diction. Grammatical/mechanical errors may interfere with reader comprehension or indicate problems with basic literacy or a lack of understanding of Standard English usage.