Grading Scale

Each major paper is worth 15 points. Two of those points are allocated to peer review: your receive one point for submitting your paper for peer review on time, and another point for participating in the in-class review session. The remaining 13 points are earned for the paper itself. The table below describes the general characteristics of papers that fall into each of the different grading categories.

0-6 points This paper fails to meet the criteria set out by the assignment prompt in one or more significant ways. The thesis is weak or irrelevant (if there is a thesis at all). It may fall significantly short of the length requirement, lack coherent organization, or contain sufficient mechanical or typographical errors to make it unreadable. A paper that makes no effort to focus on a specific and sufficiently narrow analytic question may also receive 0-6 points.
7 points This paper shows some effort to meet the criteria of the assignment, but may fall short in a number of ways. Such papers may consist primarily of a summary of the reading, rather than an analysis of an appropriate question. Papers may have the beginnings of a thesis, but such theses are overly broad, unclear, or entirely summary. Claims are largely self-evident, and sections of the body may be largely summary or basic observation. This paper relies heavily on assertion and often lacks evidence and analysis to support major claims. Such papers fail to show the reader anything about the text that she/he did not notice when reading the text itself.
8 points This paper meets the minimum requirements for the assignment but goes no further. It has an identifiable thesis, although it may be weak or lack specificity. It begins to address an appropriate analytic question, but that question may not be clearly articulated. Such papers demonstrate some overall organizational structure, but paragraphs may lack a clear, guiding focus. Body paragraphs include textual evidence, but that evidence may be scant, or insufficiently integrated into the paper. Quotations are followed by some explanation or explication, but lack in-depth analysis. Connections between ideas and claims may not be thoroughly explained. While the terms and references in this paper may not always be completely clear, the reader is able to follow the general direction of the argument, and with revision, this paper can usually make significant improvements in clarity.
9 points This paper goes beyond the minimum assignment requirements in some, but not all, aspects. Such a paper might have a focused and appropriate thesis, but lack sufficient evidence or analysis. Conversely, it might include well-chosen evidence or thoughtful analysis, but lack an overarching thesis that brings the claims together. A 9-point paper might have a clear organization with insufficient elaboration in the body paragraphs, or it might include interesting or thoughtful examples but lack a clear organizing structure. With revision, this paper has the potential to be a strong, clear argument.
10 or 11 points This paper goes beyond all of the minimum assignment requirements. It contains a clear, appropriate, and specific thesis that addresses both the paper’s argument and its significance. Its argument deals with an appropriate question and focuses on a clearly identified and specific scope; in addition, the argument offers an interesting, thoughtful, and relevant insight into the text or texts. Such papers have an identifiable and understandable organizational structure in which each paragraph has a clear focus. Each claim is supported by textual evidence, and all quotations are accompanied by sufficient analysis. The analysis indicates the importance of the claims⁄argument, and the claims and thesis make points that a reader is not likely to have noticed when reading the text him⁄herself. The connections between the ideas and claims throughout the paper are thoroughly and clearly explained, and all terms and references are clear and easy to follow. Such papers also address the importance of the argument in the introduction and/or conclusion, and begin to make connections between the individual argument and some larger point in the text.
12 or 13 points This paper demonstrates all the qualities of an 11-point paper while also excelling at one or more elements of the assignment. 12- and 13-point papers contain few, if any errors in sentence structure and coherence, and develop fully an interesting, insightful, tightly focused argument. A 12- or 13-point paper may make an argument that is especially original, startling, thought-provoking or unexpected. It may make a particularly compelling case for an argument’s significance, or demonstrate that the question it addresses is of significant importance in understanding the reading as a whole. The organization of this paper is tight and consistent and leads the reader seamlessly through each step in the argument. A 12- or 13-point paper offers analysis that goes well beyond the obvious and reflects truly original thinking.