Policies & Procedures

Course Information

Library Information

Evaluation of Compositions


Students are sometimes baffled by the letter-grading system, especially as it relates to written compositions because "correct/incorrect" and "right/wrong" are not so clear-cut as they are in, for example, mathematics. "Why," a typical student asks, "did I get a B on this paper and then a D on this one? My roommate liked this one better, and I spent more time on it than on the other one, yet I still got a lower grade. What do I need to do to get an A on one of these assignments?"

View the characteristics of an A, B, C, D, and F Essay.

Your writing instructors are happy to answer these questions because we want you to understand what constitutes good writing at the college level. We, too, are concerned about your grades; we spend, in fact, a considerable amount of our time outside of class evaluating your essays, and this evaluation is one of the most challenging aspects of our work. 

We want to consider in fairness each essay in terms of its ideas, the arrangement of those ideas, the effectiveness of your expression of ideas, and the mechanical correctness of your essay. We meet for assessment  review one day each semester to work together to set standards for essays at each letter-grade level and to discuss ways of helping you to meet these standards. The standards, however, are not unique to GCC; they reflect the qualities that warrant conside ration in any formal written composition, and they are similar to standards set at other colleges and universities. The standards are not difficult to understand, and they are certainly not secret. In fact, we want you to know what we consider in evaluating your essays so that you will understand your grades. Even more importantly, we want you to understand what constitutes college-level writing so that you will be able to evaluate independently and confidently your own writing, regardless of the specific writing situation.

Although we agree on the standards, you can expect to find differences in instructors' approaches. Most instructors require (and most formal writing demands) multiple drafts.Some instructors collect these drafts and return them with general suggestions for revision; other instructors make specific marginal comments and suggestions on each student's draft; other instructors give students the opportunity to work on their essays in groups (peer review) during class time; still other instructors make comments when they assign letter grades to the final drafts. Many faculty members have peer review for one or more essays; therefore, nothing private should be written that other students should not read. As you become a more proficient writer, you will find yourself writing better essays when you don't have the luxury of multiple drafts, for example when you write an in-class essay on an examination.

Read a sample of an:
essay for ENG 101
B essay for ENG 101
C essay for ENG 101
D essay for ENG 101
F essay for ENG 101

English Department