English Grading Guidelines

Essay Grading Guidelines
Updated: November 9, 2009
Below is an overview of the essay grading guidelines used by the Language and Communication Division.  Please be aware that these guidelines are merely guidelines, and that there will always be exceptions in extraordinary cases.  
Thank you,
The Language Division
Shelton State Community College 

A grade of “A” (90-100) on an essay means that the paper has a spark of true originality. The thesis and details of this paper are specific and intriguing, and the writer shows sophisticated organizational structure, superb use of diction and tone, and highly evolved sentence structure.

A grade of “B” (80-89) on an essay means that the paper is extremely well organized with clear topic sentences.   The writer makes no serious mechanical errors and maintains sophisticated diction and tone.  The evidence is fairly detailed, and the sentences are varied in terms of structure and length.  The thesis, while perhaps not as insightful or original as in an “A” paper, is nevertheless neither dull nor obvious. 
A grade of “C” (70-79)  means that the paper is of acceptable quality.  However, the writer should use more sophisticated editing techniques for both content and form.   For example, the “C” paper might have a few mechanical errors as well as minor problems in content.  In addition, Its thesis may need to be narrowed and/or supported by more detail.
A grade of “D” (60-69) on an essay means that the paper has numerous mechanical problems, including problems in sentence editing (comma splices, fragments, fused sentences, etc.) that make the ideas unclear.  Usually, a “D” paper lacks a clear thesis and clear organization, and its language usually is much too general and dull.  It offers no real details or evidence to support its thesis.  Its sentences are wordy and unvaried in terms of length and structure.  This kind of paper often shifts levels of language and tone.  However, a “D” paper can be relatively free of mechanical errors but have so many serious problems with content and organization that it seems unfocused and even garbled.

A grade of “F” (0-50) is assigned to a paper which has no clear thesis, no clear organization, little specific detail, and many mechanical errors, especially problems with sentences (comma splices, fragments, and fused sentences).  This kind of paper usually has problems with diction and wordiness, and its sentences are unvaried in terms of structure and length.  The writer often coordinates ideas that do not belong together.  Paragraphs lack coherence and unity.