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College of Arts & Sciences
First-Year English


Grades & Grading

What sorts of things count towards my grade?

Your final grades in English 101 and 102 will be determined mainly by the quality of the writing you produce, including essays and shorter assignments. University and departmental policy require that class attendance also play a role in grading:

  • students who miss more than 10 percent of class meetings may incur a grade penalty, and
  • students who miss 25 percent will fail the course.

Depending on how they have structured their courses, instructors may also take into account some or all of the following in calculating grades:

  • tardiness,
  • class participation,
  • revision,
  • quiz grades,
  • writing improvement,
  • missed deadlines, and
  • other kinds of assignments.

How are papers graded?

Obviously, every paper will not fit neatly into one grade category. The grades your papers receive will depend on the weight the instructor gives to each criterion, on your revision efforts, and on whether the paper was handed in on time.  Before you delve into the nuances of paper grades, take a moment to consider the following four points:

  1. Pay attention to the assignment. Make sure that you understand what your teacher wants you to do (if it's not clear, ask) and that you follow the requirements - length, formatting, due dates, etc.
  2. Select, use, and cite your sources carefully. If you have a citation question, get help - from your handbook, your teacher, and/or the Writing Center.
  3. Don't hand in someone else's work as your own. The penalties for cheating are severe: a grade of zero for the assignment in question and, more than likely, an "F" for the course. (For more information, see the Academic Responsibility section).
  4. Talk to your teacher. If, at any point in the semester, you have questions about grading or other policies, consult your teacher right away to make sure you understand what is expected of you.

Do all instructors share common grading standards?

Your instructor should include his or her grading standards in the course policies and explain them during one of the first few class periods. At any point during the semester, if you don't understand the comments on a paper or a grade you received, you should talk with your teacher immediately.

While teachers will arrive at final grades in different ways, the First-Year English Program encourages its instructors to follow some general standards that help determine the grades individual papers receive. The following descriptions of essays at different grade levels should give you a clearer idea of the standards your teacher may use to assign letter grades.

'A' Paper

'B' Paper

'C' Paper

'D' Paper

'F' Paper