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Essay Evaluation Study Guide

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Evaluation. Essays will be evaluated using the following criteria:

1. Thesis Statement (20%). The foundation of your essay is a thesis statement, a specific interpretive argument you offer about the text. Although you will begin working with a broad topic suggested by the assignment sheet, it is your job as a critic and a writer to focus that vague topic into a clear and specific argument that can be stated in a single succinct sentence. Remember that the entire purpose of the essay is to persuade the reader of the validity of the critical, argumentative assertion you make in the thesis statement.

2. Introduction (10%). After your thesis statement, the introduction is perhaps the most important part of your essay. In this opening paragraph, you will introduce the topic to be discussed, offer the specific thesis you intend to prove, and indicate how you intend to go about proving it. The introduction thus gives the reader a clear sense of the whole essay¡ªthink of it as a ¡oroad map¡± of the essay¡ªalthough it contains no specific evidence to back up its claims.

3. Body (30%). The bulk of the essay will be taken up with a series of paragraphs that offer evidence from the text(s) to support the argument offered in the thesis. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that clearly defines the aspect of the argument the paragraph will explore, and a number of sentences to present the proof. Remember, it is not sufficient for you merely to make an assertion about the text; you must also back up your claim with solid, specific evidence. You should also be conscious of making smooth transitions between your paragraphs. Show the reader why the shift is being made and draw the necessary connections to show that the paragraphs together are part of a larger, coherent argument, and not simply independent ¡omini essays.¡±

4. Conclusion (10%). Your essay should end with a brief conclusion that brings the essay together and leaves the reader satisfied that you have proven what you set out to prove in your thesis statement. The best conclusions both rearticulate the thesis statement (i.e., phrase the thesis in different words) and provide closure for the reader in the form of a memorable final statement.

5. Style (20%). Your grade will reflect not only the quality of your literary analysis, but also the calibre of your written expression. It is not sufficient merely to have intelligent insights about texts; you must also be able to communicate those insights clearly and concisely. What good is an idea if you cannot communicate it to others in an effective way? Therefore, you will be assessed on such technical matters as spelling, diction, grammatical correctness, and sentence structure.

6. Tone (10%). A formal essay must maintain a professional, mature tone from beginning to end. You must address your arguments to the reader in a consistently courteous, confident, and formal



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