Dominique Battles, English
Rather than reading through the entire essay all at once, zero in on specific aspects of the essay using the following steps. Then record your observations about each aspect of the essay. Only assess the paper for writing skills we have covered in class so far this term. Your assessment comments will go to the author of the paper to help in the revision process.
Step 1: Thesis. Identify the thesis and assess it for whether it contains an opinion. Is that opinion too obvious, or is it compelling or unusual?
Step 2: Opposition. What opinion(s) or stance(s) is the author arguing against?
Step 3: Introduction. Does the author get the specific topic of the paper into the very first sentence of this paragraph? Does the author set the stage for the thesis? Does the author give you a flavor of the opposition (either one camp of opposition or multiple camps)? Does the author transition from the opposition into the thesis?
Step 4: Topic Sentences. Without reading the entire essay, read through only the topic sentences and determine whether there is a clear direction to the argument. Do the topic sentences announce what each paragraph is about? Do the topic sentences contain opinion? Do those opinions prove some aspect of the thesis?
Step 5: Paragraphs. Taking just two paragraphs of the body of the essay as a sample, do the paragraphs contain a beginning, middle and end, with opinion clustering at the beginning and end, and evidence filling in the middle? Does each paragraph stay focused on one specific topic for that paragraph, or do you see inconsistency?
Step 6: Evidence. Go back and read through the paragraphs of the body of the essay. Does the author give you sufficient evidence to support each topic sentence (examples, facts, data, textual quotations)? Does the author provide citations for each bit of evidence? Does the author vary his/her sources within each paragraph (if this is a multiple source paper)?
Step 7: Transitions. Read the last lines of each paragraph. Does the author lead you from the last line of each paragraph into the subject of the next paragraph by carefully repeating certain key words, or answering questions left hanging in the previous paragraph, or using transitional words?
Step 8: Voice. Looking only at two paragraphs of the body of the essay as a sample, does the author use active verbs, or do you see lots of the "to be" verb (is, was, were, been, has been, be)?
Step 9: Conclusion. Does the author rephrase the thesis in the first sentence of this paragraph? Does the conclusion summarize the argument and bring you back to the big picture of the essay? Does the author end with food for thought?
Step 10: Final Assessment. Does the paper prove the thesis? Does the author keep the thesis before you at all times or does he/she stray from it? Mark points at which the author slips into narration (just telling you the story) rather than arguing the thesis.