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Syllabus, ENG 101
Grading Essays

The following is an explanation of the different grades an argumentative essay may earn. The elements are explained to show what you would need to do to write that "grade" of essay.

For the paper to be an A:

Worthwhile content; the introduction engages the readers and clearly states a thoughtful, perceptive thesis; the support is concrete and so rich in detail that readers learn by reading the essay. The ideas are logically organized to achieve maximum effect; transitions are graceful. Sentences flow smoothly, showing creativity and variety; the writer is obviously comfortable with his or her material and knows enough about the subject to explain it in great detail; few, if any, errors distract the readers from the writer's superior thought.

1. Introduction develops a significant and compelling position.
2. Support uses appropriate multiple modes (for ex, compare/contrast; cause/effect).
3. Each aspect of argument relates to thesis, providing coherence and continuity.
4. Potential objections to argument (refutation) are raised and answered by writer.
5. Resource material is acknowledged and integrated logically.
6. Conclusion is compelling/encourages action/makes suggestions or predictions.

For the paper to be a B:

Offers insight and detailed information, but is perhaps a bit less original than the A paper. The introduction states clearly the controlling idea and sets up the essay's organization. Effective supporting details make the essay worthwhile reading, and sentence structures emphasize ideas. Strong transitions add to the essay's coherence; the diction is lively and appropriate; the writer knows the subject well enough to explain it without making mechanical errors that distract readers.

1. Introduction develops a clearly stated position.
2. Modes used for support are not necessarily appropriate.
3. Each aspect of argument is there, but the writer may not have shown connection to thesis.
4. Refutation lacks sincerity and may not answer objections to the argument.
5. Resource material is acknowledged but may not be logically integrated into the text.
6. Conclusion lacks compelling elements of an "A" paper.

For the paper to be a C:

Competent in all major areas; the writer has something to say and says it directly and clearly. The introduction states the thesis and sets up the paper's organization. The central idea is worthwhile, but the writer doesn't offer any particularly fresh insight on the subject. The essay meets the requirements of the assignment and contains sufficient supporting detail to make the overall point clear to readers, but leaves them with unanswered questions: why? How much? To what extent? The sentences are correct, though perhaps lacking in variety or emphasis. Some awkwardness indicates that the writer may not be completely in command of the subject or it still struggling with the ideas.

1. Introduction is evident, but position is not clearly stated.
2. Support for argument is rational, but relies on a single mode.
3. Some aspects of argument do not relate to thesis.
4. Refutation is evident but incomplete.
5. Material from outside sources is evident but not necessarily acknowledged.
6. Conclusion ends abruptly or simply restates position.

For the paper to be a D:

Essay has some serious problems. Although the writer seems to have an idea about the subject, the thesis is vague, the development skimpy. Readers have trouble following the writer's line of thought because of jumbled organization. Sentences are awkward or immature, and mechanical errors add to readers' difficulties, suggesting that the writer worked in haste, perhaps without taking time to understand the subject thoroughly.

For the F:

Essay lacks competence in one or more of the major areas of composition. Readers have difficulty discerning a thesis or pattern of organization, the ideas are undeveloped or incoherent, and problems in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics render the essay unacceptable as college-level writing.

1. Introduction is vague or fails to establish a position that responds to the topic.
2. Body is too brief to develop a convincing argument.
3. Essay lacks focus and tends to wander.
4. Refutation of opposing views is absent.
5. Outside sources are not acknowledged and/or used.
6. Conclusion is missing or incomplete.

These ideas can be applied to other essays that you are writing during the semester as well. Just adjust the requirements a little--for example, the process essay does not require sources or refutation, but the other descriptions of the elements in an essay listed here still do apply. These are good guidelines to use when writing your own essays as well as good for when you are reviewing/peer editing other students' work.