ESSAY EVALUATION GUIDELINES


CONTENT

Does the author articulate a specific argument about the text(s) that at least one reader somewhere in the world could disagree with? If not, explain how/why.

Is the argument mostly concerned with interpreting and explaining the text(s) in question? In other words, is the essay a literary analysis? If you have concerns about this question, please make a note of them.

Is the author's argument convincing to you? Is it a persuasive critical interpretation? Why or why not? (Please be tactful, but remember, your peer is relying on you for an honest critical assessment.)

Does the essay demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the texts at hand? If not, indicate where and how the writer may have misunderstood, misinterpreted, or failed to address details of the text(s).

Does the essay offer a close reading of the text(s) in question? In other words, does the author include quotations from the text that are carefully explained? If not, identify any quotations that seem to "stand alone"--that is, quotations that are not introduced and then explained.

Is the writer's own voice overpowered by secondary resources? Does the writer use too many quotations (from either primary or secondary sources or both) or quotations that are unnecessarily long?

If the essay aims to analyze only texts that we HAVE covered in the class, are they unnecessarily summarized? If the essay aims to analyze texts that we HAVE NOT covered in this class, are they summarized perfunctorily (briefly)?

Does the essay's conclusion do more than merely reword the thesis statement and summarize the argument? If not, what kinds of points would you like to see the author make in the conclusion?

 

STRUCTURE

Does the introduction exceed one page? Is the introduction unnecessarily long or so short that it does not adequately introduce the topic and argument?

Does the introductory paragraph contain an easily identifiable thesis statement? If so, underline it. If not, indicate where your confusion arises as to where the thesis statement is.

Does the thesis statement answer a how question? If not, what kind of question does it answer?

Does the argument suggested by the thesis statement correspond to the actual argument being made in the paper as a whole? If not, how do the two differ?

Does each paragraph of the essay work to support the argument suggested by the thesis statement? If not, how might the paragraph(s) (or the thesis statement) be revised?

Does each paragraph contain a topic sentence that the rest of the paragraph follows?

Are the paragraphs in a logical order? If not, how might they be rearranged in a more effective sequence?

 

MECHANICS AND FORMAT

Does the essay contain grammatical errors? If so, point them out on the essay. Frequent errors are:
Does the essay follow MLA style formatting guidelines?