Grading standards for essays and papers          Dr. Lindgren


An A essay is excellent in nearly all respects.  An A essay:

-is well-argued and well-organized, with a clear thesis.

-is well-developed, with content that is original, specific, interesting, appropriate, and convincing.

-has logical transitions that contribute to a fluent style of writing.

-has varied and sophisticated sentence structure.

-has few, if any, mechanical, grammatical, spelling, or diction errors.

-demonstrates command of a mature, unpretentious diction.

-uses the sources extremely well.


A B essay shares most characteristics of an A essay, but:

-may have some minor lapses in organization and development.

-may contain some sentence structures that are awkward or ineffective.

-may have minor mechanical, grammatical, or diction problems.

-may be less distinguished in its use of language.

-may not use the sources as well.


A C essay is competent, but compared to a B essay it:

-may have a weaker thesis and less effective development.

-may contain some lapses in organization.

-may have poor or awkward transitions.

-may have less varied sentence structures that tend toward monotony.

-may have more mechanical, grammatical, and diction problems.

-is likely to be less distinguished in its handling of the topic.


A D essay is likely to:

-present a thesis too vague or too obvious to be developed.

-display major organization problems.

-lack adequate support for its thesis.

-have confusing or non-existent transitions.

-have ungrammatical or poorly constructed sentences.

-demonstrate problems with spelling, punctuation, diction, or syntax that impede understanding.

-not cite sources.

-be sloppy.


An F essay is seriously flawed.  It is likely to:

-have no clear thesis or central topic.

-display random organization.

-lack adequate support or specific development.

-include irrelevant details.

-fail to fulfill the assignment or be unfairly brief.

-contain major or repeated errors in diction, syntax, grammar, punctuation, or spelling.



Adapted from Carol Engelhardt, Ph.D.