Sunday, October 12, 2008

AP--Essay Grades (Revised)

At the end of your essay are seven scores, all ranked on a scale of 1 (missing), 2 (weak), 3 (present but could be improved), 4 (strong), and 5 (excellent). These subscores are hardly scientific but are designed to give you a sense of your relative strengths and weaknesses, in general or on any specific assignment. The seven categories are as follows:
T: Thesis—your opening paragraph should establish the focus of your essay and contain a statement, phrased as clearly and specifically as possible, of the main point you will prove in your essay. Clarity, specificity, and insight are the essential qualities of an excellent thesis. MS means “more specific,” as in, you should try to be.
P: Paragraph organization—each paragraph should quickly establish a central focus, a statement of idea, not fact, and the paragraph as a whole should stick closely to this central focus. Also, the number, length, and organization of your paragraphs should advance your thesis logically and effectively.
E: Evidence—in each of your body paragraphs, use specific details, facts, and brief quotations from the text to support the central interpretive focus of the paragraph. This reader looks not so much for the number of pieces of evidence as for their appropriateness to your thesis and your ability to integrate them smoothly into your paragraphs.
C: Commentary—Throughout the essay, from the opening paragraph to the concluding one, your ability to write meaningful interpretative statements is crucial. Not too vague, not overstated, not missing the point of the evidence you cite—thoughtful, specific commentary is a must in an analytical essay. Roughly two-to-one commentary to evidence is a highly desirable ratio. Commentary develops your insight into the literature you are analyzing.
D: Diction—Using words accurately and precisely adds to the overall impression of your writing. Avoiding vague abstract language, using specific terms instead, helps greatly. A rich and varied vocabulary, using clear everyday language, avoiding cliche and jargon, enhances the readability of your work.
S: Syntax—Managing clear, uncluttered sentence structure leaves a strong impression in the reader’s mind. Sentences that don’t meander off into the swamps and leave their main ideas in the muck are vital to your success. No fragments either.
M: Mechanics—Agreement, consistent verb use, punctuation, spelling, and the usage of Standard Written English may not make a strong paper, but they can certainly break one.

A paper with 5’s in all categories earns an “A,” a score of 95%. Deduct one point for each score below 5. All 3’s earns a B-, mixed 3’s and 4’s a B, all 4’s a B+, mixed 4’s and 5’s an A-, and all or almost all 5’s an A.