|Please recognise that the following descriptions are guidelines. All papers are different, and all must be assessed on their own particular merits and weaknesses.|
|"A+" Papers (94-100)|
|"A+" papers are extremely rare. In fact, I have yet to see one at the undergraduate level. The "A+" is reserved for the near perfect paper. It is so innovative and so engaging that I will want to show it to all my colleagues. Indeed, I might even encourage you to publish it. It will teach me something I don't know, something I might never have thought of on my own. It will make me say, "I wish I had written that!" If you write an A+ paper, you might very well be the next Jean Jacques Rousseau, John A. MacDonald, Virginia Woolf, Martin Luther King, or Maya Angelou.|
|"A" Papers (87-93)|
An "A" paper is exceptional. It presents innovative ideas in clear, concise prose. It has a sophisticated and thoughtful thesis statement. It often has a special stylistic flair. The opening paragraph engages me, and the body keeps me engaged. The transitions between paragraphs are not only smooth but artful. The analysis of the evidence is sophisticated. If research has been used for the essay, it has been treated with appropriate circumspection. An "A" paper is grammatically perfect.
After having read an "A" paper, I feel that I have learned something significant about the subject. I feel that I have been engaged. I might totally disagree with the argument the essay makes, but I will have profound respect for that argument and for the writer.
|"A-" Papers (80-86)|
|An "A-" paper is excellent. It shares many of the characteristics of an "A" paper but might have some very minor problems. An "A-" will often lack the intellectual tenacity or profundity of the straight "A" paper. It will leave me very impressed, but not wowed. Other features that distinguish an "A-" paper from an "A" paper might be related to style. It might have the occasional word choice problem or the occasional minor error in punctuation. It might have some minor transition faults. However, it will have no major stylistic, rhetorical, or grammatical errors.|
|"B+" Papers (77-79)|
|A "B+" paper is very good, often verging on excellent. It
has a strong and interesting thesis statement. It is
organised in a logical way. It makes good use of evidence
and analysis, and it is generally quite sophisticated in that analysis. If it makes use of research, it will not always do
so with proper circumspection. It has neither the
intellectual tenacity nor the profundity of the "A-" paper,
but it does demand a certain respect. It often has minor
rhetorical or grammatical problems. It might have the occasional weak transition between or within paragraphs. It might have the occasional word choice problem or the occasional error in punctuation or syntax. It will, however, contain no major grammatical or rhetorical errors, and no
major lapses in logic.
After reading a "B+" paper, I'll feel that I have been engaged, but not fully satisfied.
|"B" Papers (73-76)|
|A "B" paper is a strong paper but weaker rhetorically and
grammatically than the "B+." Again, it has a strong and
interesting thesis statement. It makes good use of
evidence and analysis, and it is generally competent in
that analysis. If it makes use of research, it will not always
do so critically. It might have some minor structural faults:
often, it will have transition faults within and between
paragraphs. It will not be as concise as it should be.
Indeed, getting rid of wordiness (passivity and excess
verbiage) tends to be a significant hurdle for those who
wish to progress from "B" to a "B+" paper. A "B" paper will
often have minor word choice problems.
After reading a "B" paper, I will have a sense that the writer has engaged with the subject in a significant way, but I will often feel that he or she could have developed the argument further.
|"B-" Papers (70-72)|
|A "B-" is a fairly good paper. A "B-" paper distinguishes itself from a "B" in several ways. It has a workable thesis, though perhaps one that isnt overly sophisticated. It makes use of evidence and analysis, but the analysis is not particularly engaging. It might occasionally make use of inappropriate evidence, or fail to use the most appropriate evidence to prove its point. If it makes use of research, it often does so in an unsophisticated way. It has a sound organisation, but might have some transition problems between and within paragraphs. It will often suffer from wordiness, but that wordiness should not obscure meaning. It might have an occasional lapse in logic. It will often have minor grammatical and punctuation errors. It will have more problems with diction than a "B" paper, but fewer problems than a "C+" paper. While I can question the precision of your diction in a "B-" paper, I should never have to guess at your meaning.|
|"C+" Papers (67-69)|
|A "C+" paper is almost a good paper. It is slightly above average, but characterised by several significant weaknesses. If it has a strong thesis statement, it will often fail to make its case in an effective way, either because of a merely fair use of evidence and analysis or because of a failure to deal with significant issues. If it has a weak thesis statement, it will compensate through a fairly sophisticated use of evidence and analysis. If it makes use of research, it often does so in an unsophisticated way. It will have a logical structure, but that structure will not always be transparent because of transition problems. It will suffer from occasional lapses in logic. The "C+" paper often has one or two major grammatical errors, such as the comma splice, the sentence fragment, or the run-on sentence. Its diction will be imprecise at times, and that imprecision will occasionally leave me baffled. While it may be inspired, it will generally be uninspiring.|
|"C" Papers (63-66)|
|A "C" paper is average. It generally has significant
rhetorical and grammatical weaknesses. If it has a strong
thesis statement, it will fail to make its case in an
effective way, either because of an inappropriate use of
evidence and analysis or because it fails to deal with
significant issues. If it has a weak thesis statement, it will
compensate with a fair use of evidence and analysis. The
structure of a C paper is difficult to fathom, but it does
exist. The paper will occasionally suffer from substantial
lapses in logic, or from significant misreadings of evidence.
The "C" paper often has a few major grammatical errors.
Its diction is often imprecise, and that imprecision will
often leave me baffled. Sometimes "C" papers rehash
class notes and contain very little in the way of original
thought. Like the "C+" paper, the "C" paper is uninspiring,
but it also seems uninspired.
|"C-" Papers (60-62)|
The "C-" paper is below average. It generally has significant rhetorical and grammatical weaknesses. It generally has a weak thesis statement, one that is poorly phrased or one that might not need be proven, and it fails to compensate for that weakness through a sophisticated use of evidence and analysis. Indeed, it will try to use evidence, and it will try to analyse that evidence, but it will often do so in an unsophisticated or illogical way. It might fail to deal with points essential to the argument. It will often have an illogical structure, if the structure can be identified at all. It will contain transition faults within and between paragraphs. In "C-" papers, wordiness is a major problem because it tends to always obscure meaning. Grammatical and punctuation errors begin to multiply in "C-" papers, contributing to the obscurity of the argument. And finally, word choice generally becomes a significant problem, again, obscuring meaning.
When I read a "C-" paper, I'll get the sense that you might
have an argument, but I won't be convinced that it is a
viable one, or I won't be exactly sure what it is.
|"D" Papers (50-59)|
All of the problems of the "C-" paper are multiplied in the "D" paper. If you get any mark from "D-" to "D+" you should make a beeline to my office door for help.
"D" papers come in many forms:
|"F" Papers (0-49)|
An "F" paper often adheres to one or several of the