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Writing Standards – Undergraduate Level (Grid Version)


A excellent

B good

C minimal expectations

D to F below expectations;
may be unacceptable


(quality of the information/ideas and sources/details used to support them)

  • shows clarity of purpose
  • shows depth of content
  • applies insight and represents original thinking
    -demonstrates quality and breadth of resources
  • shows clarity of purpose
    -shows substantial information and sufficient support
  • represents some original thinking
    -uses quality resources

-shows clarity of purpose
-lacks depth of content and may depend on generalities or the commonplace

  • represents little original thinking
    -uses mostly quality resources

-lacks clear purpose

  • is superficial in content
  • lacks original thinking
    -uses resources of poor quality
  • includes factual or logical errors
    -may not follow the instructions in content or length

(logical order or sequence of the writing)

  • is coherent and logically developed
    -uses very effective transitions

-is coherent and logically developed
-uses smooth transitions

-is coherent and logically (but not fully) developed
-uses some awkward transitions

-uses inadequate,
irrelevant or illogical development and transitions

(appropriate attention to audience: effective word choice, sentence variety, voice; appropriate level of formality for academic writing vs. informal text messages and email)

  • is concise, eloquent, and rhetorically effective
  • composes varied sentence structure
  • displays concern for careful expression
  • composes some varied sentence structure
  • displays some personality but lacks imagination and may be stilted
  • composes little varied sentence structure
  • frequently uses jargon and clichés
  • is simplistic
  • composes ineffective sentence style
  • applies limited vocabulary with jargon and clichés
  • is clearly below expectations for college students

(adherence to grammar rules: usage, mechanics)

  • composes well-constructed sentences
  • makes virtually no errors in grammar and spelling
  • makes accurate word choices
  • almost always composes well-constructed sentences
  • makes minimal errors in grammar and spelling
  • makes accurate word choices
  • usually composes well-constructed sentences
  • makes several errors
  • makes word choices that distract the reader
  • does not compose well-constructed sentences
  • confuses readers with many errors
  • makes frequent inappropriate word choices

Source Integrity
(appropriate acknowledgment of sources used in research)

  • cites sources for all quotations
  • credible paraphrases, cited correctly
  • includes reference page
  • makes virtually no errors in documentation style
  • cites sources for all quotations
  • credible paraphrases, usually cited correctly
  • includes reference page
  • makes minimal errors in documentation style
  • cites sources for all quotations
  • mostly credible paraphrases, sometimes cited correctly
  • includes reference page
  • makes several errors in documentation style
  • does not cite sources for all quotations
  • less than credible paraphrases, often not cited correctly
    -little to no evidence of source usage
  • may not include a reference page or is very weak
  • makes many errors in documentation style

The weighting of each of the five areas is dependent on the specific written assignment and the teacher's preference. Plagiarism occurs when a person presents as one's own "someone else's language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source" (adapted from Council of Writing Program Administrators).