An excellent paper, or A paper, surpasses others because the writer has treated the subject matter in an original manner and has developed the thesis clearly and thoroughly, using sound logic. Although outstanding and pleasurable to read, this paper may not be absolutely flawless. It is, however, relatively free of grammatical errors, and any problems in organization or style are minor. The writer of the excellent paper has a clear understanding of his or her audience’s expectations.
A good paper, or B paper, achieves all of the major goals of the writing assignment and most of the minor goals. The main idea is clear and well-developed; the sentences are carefully constructed; and the words are carefully chosen. A good paper generally needs further minor revision in one or two areas. For example, the writer may have demonstrated exceptional ability in the use of language and in the content of the paper while needing to make minor improvements in organization or mechanics.
In a proficient paper, or C paper, the writer has organized the material logically, has supported generalizations, and has eliminated most grammatical errors; but this paper usually lacks any outstanding characteristics. In addition, it often lacks thorough support for the thesis, sentence variety, and accurate word choice. Instead of revealing fresh and unusually insightful ideas, the writer of this paper responds to the assignment in an adequate but highly predictable or superficial way.
A deficient paper, or D paper, usually fails to achieve one or more of the major goals of an assignment. For example, it may lack adequate organization; it may offer insufficient or irrelevant support for its argument; it may adopt a style inappropriate to an educated audience of readers. Often it contains numerous mechanical errors, distracting the reader from the content. Incoherent sentences and vague word choices hinder the reader’s understanding.
The unacceptable paper, or F paper, achieves nearly none of the major goals of the assignment. It is difficult, frustrating, or confusing to read. This paper typically contains simple words and sentences, numerous errors in mechanics, and little or no support for generalizations. It is, however, a better showing (and receives a better grade) than no paper at all.