Typical Characteristics of the A Paper
The paper never strays from its purpose or mistakes its audience. The subject is focused, significant, interesting, manageable.
Not only is the paper correctly organized, but the organization doesn't seem mechanical or imposed.
Each topical paragraph has a controlling idea, solid detail, smooth transitions.
The sentences are varied in length and structure according to the author's purpose and emphasis.
The word choice is almost uniformly good. Words are chosen for precise denotation, connotation, tone.
Mechanically, the paper is correct except for excusable errors of inadvertence and violations of extremely technical rules.
Typical Characteristics of the B Paper
The paper has a firm purpose, but may not always affect the audience as the writer expects it to. It is focused and interesting.
The organization is correct, but transitions are sometimes strained.
Each topical paragraph has a controlling idea and good supporting detail.
The sentences are usually varied to suit the writer's purpose and indicate the writer's emphasis.
The word choice is generally correct. The writer goes beyond the automatic word to find one more precise and effective.
The paper is generally correct mechanically, though there are some problems with complex grammar and punctuation traps.
Typical Characteristics of the C Paper
Though the paper has some interesting parts, the interest is not uniformly maintained. The purpose is not always clear.
The organization is acceptable, though some parts may be slightly awry. The essay has a clear thesis or principle of organization.
Each topical paragraph has a controlling idea and some support, though the support is sometimes a bit vague or weak.
There are very few errors in sentence structure, but the sentences are not varied in length and structure.
The word choice is generally correct, but the range of words is limited, so that the diction is sometimes imprecise and monotonous.
Though the paper contains few major errors, there are mistakes in niceties of spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Typical Characteristics of the D Paper
Only in a few places does the paper find its purpose and audience. Too often it seems an unfocused exercise rather than an interesting essay.
Some principle of organization is apparent, but it isn't successfully followed.
The paragraphing is rational, but the topical paragraphs are underdeveloped--often a series of generalizations.
Errors in sentence structure are frequent enough to distract the reader, but are not pervasive.
Words are occasionally misused. Attempts to go beyond everyday vocabulary go awry.
The sentences conform well enough to the grammar of English as spoken by educated, but not fussy people. They often fail to conform to written conventions.
Typical Characteristics of the F Paper
The paper seems to be a mechanical exercise without a purpose or an audience.
There is no apparent principle of organization.
There is no apparent rationale for the paragraphing.
There are frequent sentence structure errors of the gravest sort.
Words that should be within the range of college students are misused or confused.
Some errors indicate a failure to understand the basic grammar of the sentence. Simple words are frequently misspelled.
(c) Teaching With a Purpose, Doug Hunt