Grading Criteria for Essays A or B

The essay should be at least 2 pages double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 inch Font with 1 inch margins. Essays should be submitted in a portfolio that contains workshop draft, conference draft, final draft, and reflection on final draft.


  • Recognize role of audience, purpose, and voice in writing
  • Understand basic essay structure: controlling thesis, organizational structure, strategies for a successful introduction, conclusion
  • Support ideas with concrete details and examples


  • The essay should have a controlling theme or thesis. This theme is what you want your reader to walk away from the essay believing or knowing. Remember this theme isn’t about you, though you will probably use your experience to support this theme.
  • This theme is well supported/illustrated with examples (or with an extended example).
  • These examples include enough details so readers can “see” what is in your mind’s eye. Show don’t tell (or just tell)
  • The voice or tone of this essay matches the theme. Serious, whimsical, angry.
  • The essays is submitted in a portfolio that contains all required components.


  • An organizational strategy that orders the material.
  • Body paragraphs are organized so that each one contains a point or section that supports of the theme of the essay (unless it’s a transitional paragraphs). This same point won’t be found in other body paragraphs unless it is different enough. Remember, a paragraph tells your reader “ok, done with that and onto a new point.”
  • The introduction and conclusion fit the theme and ideas in the body of the essay.


  • Sentences show that the reader edited by reading the essay aloud slowly at least twice.
  • Sentences have been revised for conciseness and action verbs.

“A” essays, while not perfect, fulfill the grading criteria exceptionally well.
These essays may take risks that are successful and may show evidence of outstanding revision.

“B” essays meet the grading criteria successfully for the most part. These essays may take risks that are only somewhat successful, and they may show evidence of serious and sustained revision to content, organization, and style.

“C” essays satisfy the grading criteria. These essays, with some lapses, communicate a theme, support this theme with examples and details, are organized coherently, and contain competent prose. This essay may not take any risks.

“D” essays do not satisfy the grading criteria. They may have a barely perceptible theme or many multiple underdeveloped themes. They rely on vague, abstract expressions without supporting examples and details. The organizational plan may resemble a list or it may include (unstylistic) repetition of ideas in different paragraphs. Sentences may be confusing.

“F” essays do not exist or exist as freewrites

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