Grade Policies

How Papers are Graded

Many students would like English papers to be graded the way arithmetic papers are graded. This is probably why I get questions like "I fixed this comma. Can I have another point?" They do not realize that there is a lot more to good writing than simply getting a lot of details correct.

First, the quick read

By this point in your education, some things should be firmly in place. You should know about capitalization, spelling, and several other basics of grammar and mechanics. I will do a very quick reading of your paper for several basic categories of error; if your paper needs repairs, I will return it without a grade. You have one week to fix things. This handout explains what these errors are and how many of them will cause a paper to be returned.

Next, the mark-up

I will do a close reading of your paper and make comments and marginal notes. You might see marks like R.O. or M.M. in your paper, and you are always welcome to ask what these cryptic symbols mean. (By the way, R.O. = run-on sentence and M.M. = misplaced modifier.)

By the way, not all of the comments are announcements that you did something wrong. Some of them are simply comments about your content. If you wrote something that is intended to be funny and I laughed along with you, I might put in LOL.

Finally, the rubric

Rubric = a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests (Merriam-Webster dictionary, fourth definition)

I will be using this English Department rubric, which deals with five areas of your paper: Thesis and Structure, Body Paragraphs and Organization, Analysis, Evidence & Support, Language Style & Voice, and Conventions. Each of these areas will receive a comment and a grade. Finally, the grade for the paper will be calculated. This handout discusses the rubric in more detail.

Two more things

Effort is impossible to grade. Some people do an excellent job of writing with little effort, while others struggle for every word. I cannot judge that. I can only comment on the result.

Plagiarism, of course, is different grading issue. If you merely made a mistake and did not do a good job of citing your sources, your grade will suffer; if it's obvious that the plagiarism is major and "willful," then I must report it to the appropriate authorities. My policy on plagiarized papers is that they get a zero with no opportunity for revision.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 1/12/20 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: