Each essay is read and evaluated by at least two faculty members in a carefully planned and supervised reading. Each reader scores an essay on a scale of 1 to 6, and the two scores are combined. 12 is the highest possible total score. A score of 8 or above is passing. (See sample scoring guide and sample essays below.)
6 — Superior
5 — Strong
4 — Adequate
"6" — A superior paper addresses the topic in a complex way and executes its plan convincingly and skillfully.
Purpose: Shows a sophisticated sense of its own purpose throughout, along with sophisticated organization.
Topic: Addresses the topic in an intelligent and logical manner.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Supports its own ideas and addresses opposing ideas, revealing occasional inadequacies in arguments or details of opposing viewpoints.
Development: Shows extensive development both in terms of abstractions and details; often offers cogent or imaginative sources of information that go beyond those presented in text.
Style: Has variety and sophistication in both sentence structure and diction.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits superiority in written English, though it need not be flawless.
"5" — A strong paper addresses the topic in a meaningful way and executes a solid plan.
Purpose: Shows a clearly identifiable purpose with good organization.
Topic: Addresses the topic by competent employment of many issues raised in the reading passage.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Supports its own ideas and reveals awareness of opposing ideas.
Development: Shows full development.
Style: Has effective use of sentence structures and vocabulary.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits a command of written English, though there may be flaws.
"4" — An adequate paper takes a satisfactory approach.
Purpose: Shows a clearly identifiable purpose and adequate organization.
Topic: Has engaged the primary issues raised by the reading passage.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Supports its own ideas, but may not present awareness of opposing ideas.
Development: Offers appropriate and reasonable support, though less specifically.
Style: Has adequate use of sentence structures and vocabulary.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits control of written English. Flaws do not detract from essay content.
3 — Inadequate college writing
2 — Clearly inadequate
1 — Incompetent
0 — Off topic or no response
"3" — An inadequate paper fails to develop or address the issue in a satisfactory way, but demonstrates developing skills. It will have one or more of the following attributes:
Purpose: Shows some focus but occasionally wavers in its sense of purpose; often shows problems in organization.
Topic: Addresses some issues of the reading passage, but some significant aspects may be slighted or ignored.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Reveals contradictions or flaws in logic.
Development: Has underdeveloped portions or merely echoes and uncritically paraphrases elements of the reading.
Style: Has sentences that are difficult to read or seem confused.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits wavering control of written English. Flaws detract from the essay content.
"2" — A clearly inadequate paper will reveal serious and repeated problems, including confusion as to the task or uncertainty as to the plan. It will have one or more of the following attributes:
Purpose: Shows very little sense of focus.
Topic: Addresses the reading only marginally or randomly.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Shows very little analysis of materials or is often illogical.
Development: Is significantly underdeveloped; often avoids expansion or explanation of ideas throughout the essay.
Style: Has sentences that pose significant difficulties for readers; frequently misuses vocabulary.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits persistent problems in grammar and mechanics.
"1" — An incompetent paper will fail to communicate. It will have one or more of the following attributes:
Purpose: Shows no sense of purpose or direction; often incoherent.
Topic: Does not address the reading or exhibits little understanding of the writing task.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Reveals chaotic or nonexistent analysis of materials and serious problems in logic.
Development: Is radically underdeveloped. Essays in this category make little attempt at offering evidence or argument.
Style: Has very few sentences that are coherent or clear.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits pervasive errors that regularly prevent understanding.