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Michael Barsanti's Grading Standards


by Michael Barsanti


Grade Organization Argument Style Mechanics
No loose pieces, all paragraphs coherent and support topic Arg. says something surprising, or at least interesting Fluent sentences of varied style, conversational yet grammatical Mechanically faultless
Clear organization, but may be mechanical. All paragraphs are justified internally. Arg. possibly less interesting, but well supported & clearly made throughout paper Clear writing, but occasionally graceless sentences that should be rephrased. A few mechanical errors, but they are unobtrusive (2-4)
Clear attempt at organization, but not fully realized. Paragraphs wander internally & may be imbalanced. Arg. conventional, often shifts in focus from beginning to end. Quotations used for summary, not support. "Clunky." Repetitive sentence style, passive voice. Some incoherent sentences. Many distracting errors, especially typos and quotation errors (4-8)
Not good at all, but revisable
Topic approached in incoherent way. No apparent rationale for paragraphs. Cliche for argument, not followed throughout paper Many incoherent sentences. Sentence fragments, misspellings
Grossly careless
No topic to speak of No discernible argument Barely legible


  1. Is your paper organized into coherent paragraphs?
  2. Does each paragraph have a topic you can summarize in a few words?
  3. Does each of your paragraphs support your argument?
  4. Do you have a compelling introduction? a satisfying conclusion?
  5. Do you have logical and smooth transitions between paragraphs?


  1. Do you have a thesis/hypothesis?
  2. Can you state it in a sentence?
  3. Do you have supporting evidence from the text(s)?
  4. Are your supporting quotes integrated into your own argument? (i.e., Are you using them, or are you just using them as filler?
  5. Is any summary of the story serving the purpose of your argument?
  6. Does your argument interest you?


  1. Have you minimized use of the passive voice?
  2. Do you use varied sentence structures?
  3. Is your writing as clear as you can possibly make it?
  4. Have you minimized repeated words?


  1. Are you using MLA format for quotations?
  2. Can you justify your commas?
  3. Have you proofread (beyond using the spell check)?
  4. Do all of your quotes have page citiations?
  5. Are there any accidental sentence fragments? repeated words?