Writing Program Grading Criteria

Rutgers University-Newark Writing Program: Essay Evaluation and Grading Criteria 

The Writing Program grades holistically by evaluating the student’s essay as a whole, balancing its strengths and weaknesses, in order to arrive at an overall grade. 

Grade of A: An essay that earns an A demonstrates a high degree of competence and meets the following criteria:

□ Presents an argument that responds to the writing assignment thoroughly and insightfully
□ Demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the assigned texts
□ Is very well focused, organized, and developed at the essay level, integrating assigned texts and/or research
□ Is very well framed and developed at the paragraph level, including effective assertions, analysis, and textual evidence
□ Demonstrates strong facility with language, using effective vocabulary, syntax, and sentence variety
□ Demonstrates strong control of the grammar, rules of usage, and mechanics of standard English

Grade of B: An essay that earns a B is written in a clearly competent manner and meets the following criteria:

□ Presents an argument that responds to all of the elements of the writing assignment effectively and thoughtfully
□ Demonstrates a solid understanding of the readings
□ Is effectively focused, organized, and developed at the essay level, integrating assigned texts and/or research
□ Is effectively framed and developed at the paragraph level, including appropriate assertions, analysis, and textual evidence
□ Demonstrates good facility with language, using appropriate vocabulary, syntax, and sentence variety
□ Shows good control of the grammar, rules of usage, and mechanics of standard English, but may have some errors

Grade of C: An essay that earns a C demonstrates adequate competence but is limited in one or more of the following ways:

□ Presents an argument that responds to the writing assignment adequately, but may be somewhat limited
□ Demonstrates a competent, though sometimes superficial, understanding of the readings
□ Is adequately focused at the essay level, though the paragraphs could be more effectively organized or explicitly connected and the assigned texts and/or research could be better integrated
□ Is thinly developed at the paragraph level, inconsistent in its inclusion of assertions, analysis, or textual
□ Demonstrates satisfactory facility with language, but may have limited control of syntax and minimal sentence variety
□ Demonstrates adequate, though sometimes inconsistent control of grammar, usage, and mechanics

Grade of D: An essay that earns a D approaches competence, but has one or more of the following flaws:

□ Presents an argument that is unclear or seriously limited in its response to the writing assignment, or does not present any argument
□ Demonstrates an inadequate reading, or a misreading of the texts
□ Is unfocused, disorganized, or underdeveloped at the essay level
□ Is inadequately developed at the paragraph level, lacking assertions, analysis, and/or textual evidence
□ Demonstrates errors in the use of language or syntax, which may interfere with meaning
□ Demonstrates errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics, which may interfere with meaning

Grade of F: An essay that earns an F lacks competence, since it has one or more of the following flaws:

□ Fails in its response of the writing assignment
□ Is incomplete/severely underdeveloped
□ Contains severe grammatical or syntactical errors that persistently obscure meaning