Essay Writing Guidelines
The fundamentals of good writing can be sub-divided into four component parts; content,
form, style and mechanics. Content refers to what you say. Form, style, etc., describe how you
say it. An excellent paper demonstrates superior effort or accomplishment in all four categories
simultaneously. Here is a brief catalogue of what to look for.
Content. The information in your paper, including your research, your reflections or
analysis of the data, and so on, should be accurate and relevant to the question(s) at hand. It
should be well documented and/or referenced. Factual errors, lengthy digressions on irrelevant
(or barely relevant) items, or arguments that are unsupported by logic or evidence count against
you in this category.
Form refers to the organization of your paper. Every paper should have an introductory
paragraph that indicates what is in store for the reader, and a concluding paragraph that ties
together the various threads of argument or analysis it makes use of along the way. As far as
possible, it should also be free of excessive redundancy and repetition.
Style refers to the clarity and coherence of your writing. Avoid awkward, vague or
elliptical sentences which seem to hint at sophistication or profundity. More often than not, they
suggest that your ideas are not yet fully formed or articulated – that you have not processed them
sufficiently to defend them well and are, therefore, hiding behind an impressive façade. When
summarizing another person’s ideas or attitudes, do not repeat them verbatim for long but,
instead, use brief quotes and skillful paraphrases to keep things lively.
Mechanics refers to grammar, spelling and punctuation. To avoid unnecessary errors like
these proof read your paper several hours after it is finished, or better yet, ask someone else to
proof read it for you.
A (90-100) Excellent. This paper shows originality and a strong capacity for critical
thinking. It is squarely on topic, contains no major factual errors, has been carefully proof
read, and has very few (if any) grammatical or typographical errors. It is well organized and
free of redundancy or repetition. The author has a firm grasp of the issues at hand, and, as a
result, the central thesis or argument is both crystal clear and based on well-documented
evidence and/or arguments that are cogent and persuasive. The author makes excellent use of
the required texts and supplementary readings in making her case.
B (80-89) Very good. The author shows a firm grasp of the issues, shows originality and
a capacity for critical thinking, but the paper was not proof read properly, or contains
significant factual errors, or fails to document sources or use supplementary research, etc.
C (70-79) Good/average This paper covers the required reading and the overall subject
matter competently, but suffers from repetition, redundancy, poor introductory or concluding
paragraphs, absent or inconsistent use of references, citations, too many factual or
typographical errors, etc., often and despite evidence of some originality and critical
thinking. Alternatively, this may be an B paper that fails to meet minimum page length
requirements, veers slightly “off course,” or does not really address the issues at hand.
D (60-69) Below average. Same as above, but the content is weaker, the thesis sketchier,
and there is very little evidence of supplementary research, critical thinking or originality of
perspective. Alternatively, the paper may have some of the qualities of a somewhat better
paper, but fails to meet minimum page length requirements and/or strays far from the
questions or issues at hand.
F (0-59) Unsatisfactory. No evidence of supplementary research, critical
thinking or originality. Moreover, this paper either fails to address some important issues, or
does so only in an inaccurate, confused or confusing way.
Purchase answer to see full