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Grading Criteria

General Grading Criteria for ENG 112 Writing, Especially Essays

See the characteristics indexed by number in the sample essay that follows, along with comments after each essay listed by the same number.







Unique insights, possibly with a preview list of topics

Attempts to “prove” the ordinary or the obvious



Takes the reader along via transitions and coherent connection within and between sentences

Tries to apply a formula for structure, doesn’t find the real topic until the end, or doesn’t take the reader along



Topic words network throughout the essay, sometimes repeated as synonyms or even antonyms

“Mumbling to their navel”: Uses lots of pronouns instead of precise nouns so reader has to track back or guess what’s being discussed



Sophisticated and varied sentence structure

Every sentence is two lines long, 25 words or so--or short sentences preferred.  Maybe “which” becomes an all-purpose conjunction.



Uses rare, technical, and even poetic words (comparisons) facilely and precisely; uses action verbs

Confuses words, struggles for words, lets them slither into the wrong context; sticks to a simple vocabulary to get the spelling straight



Provides multiple examples to establish a pattern, explaining each in the context of the thesis

Gives examples grudgingly, perhaps only on request during revision; prefers platitudes and truisms, as if academic argument is like conversation with buddies



Quotes phrases, using them as part of a sentence that may contain an introduction or commentary on the quotation.

Forgets the quotation marks at one or both ends, hangs quotations between sentences, and/or misuses the word “quote” as in the misguided formula, “I have a quote” or “The President quoted today that he . . . .”



Sees research as more sophisticated evidence, but comments on any research reported; documents accurately

Sees research as not thinking for yourself; often plopped into a paragraph as if the facts or opinions spoke for themselves; skips documentation or mishandles it, even if the formats are checked instead of guessed at

9 Editing Doesn't need much--and nothing major, just a few misspellings, commas or words left out The Usual Suspects visit from ENG 01--unmarked sentence endings (fragments, run-on, comma splices) and word endings (part of speech suffixes, -s, -ed, even -ing), along with a raft of misspellings, omitted commas and words, and those pesky word confusions, e.g. "then" vs. "than."  Unmarked titles and quotations also count against one's grade.  Put a title on your own work, but don't mark it as a title unless it includes someone else's title.

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