Some characteristics of:


An A paper


·        Demonstrates not just an adequate, but a thorough knowledge of its subject.

·        Is based on an unusually acute perception of the possibilities in its subject; uses the most persuasive arguments and responds skillfully to the most persuasive counter‑arguments. 

·        Develops its argument in a provocative or even an original manner.

·        Possesses highly effective organization. 

·        Is not just accurate but felicitous in expression. 

·        Has effective sentence emphasis as well as effective rhetorical emphasis. 

·        Has an individual style or “voice.”

·        Carefully avoids jargon and clichés.



A B paper


·        Has an effective organization, including a clearly stated thesis and appropriate evidence to support it; the paper does not, for instance, merely follow the chronological order of a text or rehash a series of lectures.

·        Has rhetorical emphasis.

·        Uses clear sentence structure and correct diction: sometimes, however, sentences may lack variety or power, and sometimes word choice may be proper but dull. 

·         Shows a command of the principles of grammar and punctuation.

·        Makes an adequate response to possible counter‑arguments.


C paper (Remember George Bush was a AC@ student! You could be president some day...)


·        Does NOT show a pattern of major grammatical mistakes (it often reveals, however, a less than perfect understanding of grammar). Essays with major consistent problems of expression should not be considered “C” work, regardless of their content.

·        Has at least a fundamental organization; its thesis is apparent, although it may not be precisely state or fully supported.

·        Contains no errors in logic that directly damage presentation or substantiation of its thesis.

·        Often shows a lack of economy: unnecessary words in a sentence, unnecessary sentences in a paragraph. 

·        Often has a “voice” that sounds anonymous, lifeless, and/or unengaging.

·        Sentences may often be stilted and laborious.



A D Paper


·        Lacks an organizing principle.

·        Does not advance beyond the very obvious.

·        Is frequently unclear.

·        Shows a pattern of major grammatical mistakes.



An F Paper


·        Fails to address the assigned topic, or shows no commitment to facts or text.

·                Shows a fundamental ignorance of the structure of English sentences, or disdains the basic principles of their construction.

·        Is so poorly phrased that its argument can be understood only with difficulty.

·        Is plagiarized



(Note: any one of these four characteristics justifies an F, and plagiarism always does.)