Guidelines for Grading Essays

Note: For the higher grades (8-10), essays need to have all of the virtues mentioned. Essays that are 7s come in two varieties, as detailed below. Essays graded 6 needn't have all of the vices mentioned, but should have flaws or problems that are serious enough that the essay is not satisfactory.

10 : Superb. Insightful, focused, well-supported, well-written, carefully reasoned, no typos or grammatical flaws. Makes you think. Can't see any way to improve on it.

9: Superior response to the question -- interesting, thoughtful, focused, good writing, flaws very minor (a few typos, for example).

8: Good. Solid response that stays focused on the question; writing is clear and easy to follow; flaws are minor. Goes beyond the obvious.

7. Satisfactory. There are two varieties of a "7":

A. Answers the question, writing is fine, but not insightful, stays with the most obvious point. Okay, bland, fulfills assignment but you don't learn anything from reading it.

B. Had 8/9 potential but also has significant flaws -- problems with logic, writing, or lots of writing errors. Too long. A mixture of strengths and weaknesses.

6. Unsatisfactory.

Doesn't answer part of the essay question. Writing poor: paper doesn't make sense, pervasive errors, sloppy. Says very little, or what is says is irrelevant, or you mostly aren't sure what it says because the writing is unclear.

Most essays turned in on time will earn a 6 or above. However, a completely incoherent essay would earn a 5. Late essays will lose points.