General Note

This course is graded on a 100 point scale, therefore each point constitutes one percent of the total score available (100pts = 100%, 15pts = 15%, etc). Please be careful to note that every point you lose may make a considerable difference when totalled at the end of the year. Be careful not to lose points foolishly or wastefully by missing due dates and incurring late penalties. See my Course Policies page for details on the late policy. Also, be sure to confer with the Departmental Grading Guidelines for further details and information about grading in this department (this document also contains information regarding the Department's policies on ESL).

While the following description of grades refers to essays, these criteria apply across all assignents. The same grading scale is used for the final course grade.

A (Outstanding; 96% and above)
An A paper completes the task set by the assignment and is excellent in nearly all respects. It is well argued and well organized with a clear thesis stated or implied. It is well developed with content that is specific, accurate, interesting, and appropriate. It demonstrates the writer's ability to produce and synthesize complex ideas. Logical transitions contribute to its fluent style. It is almost completely free from errors in mechanics, usage, and sentence structure, and shows evidence of excellent control of language.

A- (Excellent; 90-95%)
An A- paper shares most of the characteristics of the A paper. It may not be as carefully reasoned as the A paper, but shows no serious errors in logic. There may be minor weaknesses in paragraphing, but the content is effectively organized into coherent units. The paper is well written and is largely free from errors in mechanics, usage, and sentence structure.

B Range (Good -- Very Good; 75-89%)
The B paper is generally competent. It may accomplish the assignment less completely than the A Range paper, but it does come to terms with the basic task of the assignment. It has a weaker thesis that is not as effectively or completely developed. It may insufficiently develop minor points, but it does give evidence of the writer's ability to support key ideas. It is organized well enough to allow the reader to move with relative ease through the discourse. The B paper may contain some awkward or ineffective sentences and may show some problems with mechanics and usage, but these errors are not serious enough to consistently distract the reader from the content.

C Range (Satisfactory -- Average; 60-74%)
The C paper may show difficulty managing the task of the assignment. The thesis may be vague or too obvious to be developed effectively. It may lack adequate support for the thesis. There may be distinct weaknesses in paragraphing and organization, but the total effect is not chaotic. Errors in mechanics, usage, and sentence structure interfere with readability.

D Range (Weak; 50-59%)
A D paper fails to come to terms with the assignment. The primary task is ignored, misconstrued, badly mishandled, or redefined to accommodate what the writer wants to say or is able to say. There may be a combination of the following defects: serious errors in reasoning; little or no development of ideas; no clear progression from one part of the paper to the next. The D paper may have ungrammatical or poorly constructed sentences and serious, frequent errors in mechanics and usage which impede understanding.

F (Unacceptable; Below 50%)
An F paper is seriously flawed. It is likely to have no clear thesis or central topic. Further, it may display random organization, lack of adequate support or specific development, include irrelevant detail, fail to fulfil the assignment or be unduly brief. It may also contain major and repeated errors in mechanics, usage, and sentence structure. Category F may also be used for the paper which is obviously "off topic" regardless of the writing quality. In this case the paper does not deal with the topic assigned and so does not fulfil the assignment.

Before beginning your paper, read the Departmental Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers.

Always re-read your paper, or have someone else read it for mechanical and organizational errors before submitting it for grading. When in doubt about mechanical or organizational matters, take your paper to the Writing Lab (Calaveras Hall) for assistance.

When in doubt about the assignment, its meaning, or purpose, ask the instructor for clarification or other assistance. That is, in part, what the instructor is here to do help you learn, and writing essays is one of the ways by which we learn to express our ideas.





Adapted from E. M. White, Teaching and Assessing Writing (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1986), 135-6.