GRADING STANDARDS FOR COLLEGE PAPERS

The College of Southern Maryland
Department of English

Grade of | A | B | C | D | F |


CHARACTERISTICS OF AN  A PAPER

This paper is exceptionally well written and well organized.

I. CONTENT

1. The subject is focused, significant, interesting, and manageable. It is appropriate for college-level work and fulfills the requirements of the assignment. It may demonstrate an effective originality and/or a challenging level of academic/intellectual difficulty.
2. The paper contains sufficient, specific supporting evidence for assertions, in the form of examples, details, and discussion. The supporting evidence demonstrates originality, thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and/or significant and appropriate research. Lapses in reasoning are avoided. When appropriate, opposing viewpoints are acknowledged and effectively addressed.
3. Supporting evidence from sources is accurately paraphrased, summarized, and/or quoted.
4. There is an effective ratio between evidence and discussion. 

II. ORGANIZATION

5. The paperís introduction leads smoothly and coherently to the thesis statement--i.e., it contains a well-developed introductory paragraph that provides an explanation of the topicís significance, and/or background/context.
6. The thesis clearly and effectively states the paperís central point. It is precise and is neither too broad nor too narrow. It is positioned appropriately--usually near the end of the introduction.
7. Each body paragraph contains a controlling idea that supports the thesis and that may be expressed in a clear, precise topic sentence. Supporting evidence is related to the controlling idea.
8. The paper exhibits a clear organizational pattern. Transitions and other connecting devices between and within paragraphs create coherence. Supporting evidence from sources is smoothly integrated into the discussion.
9. A concluding paragraph summarizes the paperís main points and effectively leaves the reader with a significant conclusion that clearly stems from the evidence and the reasoning.

III. STYLE/EXPRESSION

10. Vocabulary is precise and of an appropriate level of diction. Denotation, connotation, and tone are effective.
11. Sentence structures are varied and have an appropriate level of complexity.
12. The paper is characterized by an effective originality of expression.

IV. GRAMMAR/MECHANICS/DOCUMENTATION

13. Sources are consistently and accurately documented according to the method assigned by the instructor.
14. The paper presents a professional appearance and contains few or no typos or errors in spelling, grammar, ormechanics. It follows the assigned format.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF A  B PAPER

The paper is well written and well organized.

I. CONTENT

1. The subject is focused, significant, interesting, and manageable. It is appropriate for college-level work and fulfills the requirements of the assignment. It may demonstrate more originality and/or level of academic difficulty and challenge than does a ďCĒ paper.
2. The paper contains sufficient specific supporting evidence for assertions in the form of examples, details, and discussion. The discussion is thoughtful and the reasoning is sound: lapses in reasoning are generally avoided. When appropriate, opposing viewpoints are acknowledged and addressed, but perhaps less effectively than in an ďAĒ paper.
3. Supporting evidence from sources is accurately paraphrased, summarized, and/or quoted.
4. There is an effective ratio between evidence and discussion. 

II. ORGANIZATION

5. The paperís introduction leads smoothly and coherently to the thesis statement--i.e., it contains a well-developed introductory paragraph that provides an explanation of the topicís significance and/or background/context.
6. The thesis clearly and effectively states the paperís central point. It is precise and is neither too broad nor too narrow. It is positioned appropriately--usually near the end of the introduction.
7. Each body paragraph contains a controlling idea that supports the thesis and that may be expressed in a clear, precise topic sentence. Supporting evidence is related to the controlling idea.
8. The paper exhibits a clear organizational pattern. Transitions and other connecting devices between and within paragraphs create coherence. Supporting evidence from sources is smoothly integrated into the discussion.
9. A concluding paragraph summarizes the paperís main points and may effectively leave the reader with a significant conclusion that clearly stems from the evidence and reasoning presented.
III. STYLE/EXPRESSION
10. Word choice is effective, characterized by appropriate vocabulary, level of diction, and use of denotation, connotation, and tone.
11. Sentence structures are varied and of an appropriate level of complexity, but perhaps less so than in an ďAĒ paper. 
IV. GRAMMAR/MECHANICS/DOCUMENTATION
12. Sources are consistently and accurately documented according to the method assigned by the instructor.
13. The paper presents a professional appearance and contains few typos or errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics.It follows the assigned format.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF A  C PAPER

The paper fulfills the basic requirements of a college paper.

I. CONTENT

1. The subject is appropriate for college-level work and fulfills the requirements of the assignment, but may not be sufficiently focused, significant, or interesting.
2. The paper contains supporting evidence for assertions, in the form of examples, details, and discussion. In some areas, additional evidence may be needed. The discussion demonstrates thoughtfulness, though it may contain some lapses in reasoning. Opposing viewpoints are acknowledged and addressed when appropriate.
3. Supporting evidence from sources is accurately paraphrased, summarized, and/or quoted for the most part, but there may be instances in which the sourceís meaning or intent is misrepresented.
4. The ratio between evidence and discussion is generally effective but is not consistently balanced.
II. ORGANIZATION
5. The paper contains an introductory paragraph that leads to the thesis statement, giving the reader necessary background/context about the topic being developed in the paper.
6. The thesis states the paperís central point but may need to be less broad, less narrow, or more precise.
7. Each body paragraph contains a controlling idea that supports the thesis and that may be expressed in a clear, precise topic sentence. Supporting evidence is generally related to the controlling idea, although it may at times stray from the point.
8. The paper exhibits a clear organizational pattern. In some areas, stronger transitions and other connecting devices are needed to create coherence between and within paragraphs. Supporting evidence from sources is integrated into the discussion, but in some areas the integration needs to be smoother.
9. A concluding paragraph restates and/or summarizes the paperís points and stems from the evidence and reasoning presented, though the connection could be made more clearly. 

III. STYLE/EXPRESSION

10. Although word choice is generally precise, at times the level of diction may be inappropriate.
11. Sentence structures are generally varied, but in some places the language is monotonous and/or simplistic. 
IV. GRAMMAR/MECHANICS/DOCUMENTATION
12. Sources are documented according to the method assigned by the instructor, but there are some errors in documentation style.
13. The paper has been edited and proofread, but a number of typos and/or errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics, and/or format detract from the paperís credibility. 

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CHARACTERISTICS OF A  D PAPER

The paper contains significant weaknesses.

I. CONTENT

1. The subject is too broad, too narrow, too vague, or too simplistic for college-level work and may fail to fulfill one or more of the basic requirements of the assignment.
2. Sufficient and/or specific supporting evidence for assertions is not provided. The paper may contain several significant lapses in reasoning. Opposing viewpoints are not acknowledged.
3. Sources are not accurately quoted, or paraphrased, and there may be instances where sources are misrepresented.
4. The ratio between discussion and evidence from sources is ineffective. 
II. ORGANIZATION
5. The introductory paragraph is missing, inadequately developed, or does not relate or lead to the thesis statement.
6. Although the paper contains a thesis statement, it may be too broad, too narrow, unclear, vague, awkwardly worded, or inappropriately located in the paper.
7. Body paragraphs are not organized by controlling ideas or topic sentences, and/or topic sentences do not relate clearly to the thesis. Evidence intended as support may stray from the point.
8. The paper does not follow an organizational pattern. Transitions within and/or between paragraphs may be lacking or inappropriate. Supporting evidence from sources is often not coherently integrated.
9. The concluding paragraph fails to summarize the main points of the paper. The conclusion does not stem logically from the paperís points. 
III. STYLE/EXPRESSION
10. Vocabulary is often imprecise or inappropriate for college-level work and may include cliches or slang.
11. Sentence structures are not sufficiently varied. Language may be monotonous or repetitive. Logical connections between clauses are at times unclear.
IV. GRAMMAR/MECHANICS/DOCUMENTATION
12. Sources are not always given proper credit. At times, references are not cited according to the format assigned by the instructor.
13. The paper does not present a professional appearance. Frequent typos or errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics, and/or format detract substantially from the paperís credibility.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF AN  F PAPER

The paper fails to fulfill one or more of the basic requirements of a college paper.

I. CONTENT

1. The subject is too simplistic for college-level work. It is too broad, too narrow, or too vague. Significant requirements of the assignment have not been met.
2. Assertions are not supported with specific and/or sufficient evidence. The paper contains frequent lapses in reasoning. Opposing viewpoints are not acknowledged.
3. Sources are not accurately paraphrased, summarized, and/or quoted, and/or their intent is misrepresented. 

II. ORGANIZATION

4. There is no introductory paragraph.
5. There is no thesis statement.
6. Paragraphs lack controlling ideas.
7. The paper does not follow an organizational plan. Supporting evidence from sources is not integrated into the discussion.
8. There is no concluding paragraph.
III. STYLE/EXPRESSION
9. Language is imprecise or inappropriate for college-level work.
10. Sentence structures are not sufficiently varied. Language is monotonous or repetitive. Logical connections between clauses are unclear. 
IV. GRAMMAR/MECHANICS/DOCUMENTATION
11. Sources are not credited. References are not cited according to the format assigned by the instructor.
12. The paper does not present a professional appearance. It contains frequent typos, or errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics, and/or format. It contains sentence fragments and/or run-on sentences.

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Revised: August 2001