Grade Levels

I won’t always be able to tell you why your essays don’t quite achieve the grades you want. Even after you respond well to feedback and make your essay grammatically correct, provide good sources, and make reasonable arguments, you might still not earn the highest grade. Writing beautifully and persuasively is more than a matter of following rules, and you may simply require more practice or more skill than can be achieved in a single semester.

Nobody wants to be told: “You just don’t sound as if you know what you’re talking about,” or: “You spend so much time proving the obvious there’s no room left for new insight,” but that may be the truth of the matter, and it may be the unspoken reason your grade didn’t improve as much as you hoped.

Following are some writing samples I hope will illustrate obvious differences in writing quality. The differences are enough to be worth a letter grade. These are relative values, of course, not absolutes. Not every writing course requires exactly this level of accomplishment for an A grade. Neither would the worst example necessarily earn a D grade in this course. Still, the comparisons should be helpful

A Grade
Reasonable claims, nicely transitioned to guide reader through a persuasive argument:

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays enlisting in the army is just one example of the discriminatory laws that deny freedom of speech and expression to the homosexual community. Overturning that wrongheaded legislation as unconstitutional was a good first step toward awarding gays the equal rights a majority of Americans favor for them. It’s time for our government to stand up to religious zealots who oppress sexual minorities and to pass humane laws that grant all citizens their constitutional freedoms, such as the right to choose a spouse.

B Grade
Unconnected but reasonable declarations:

Denying same sex couples the right to marry is discriminatory. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays enlisting in the army was an example of an unconstitutional rule because it took away the rights of freedom of speech and expression from the homosexual community. A majority of Americans favor gay marriage because it treats all citizens equally. Although religious groups may be against it, the government should make laws based on how the majority believes.

C Grade
Poorly connected unclear or contradictory claims:

A large percentage of American couples are same-sex couples. If heterosexual couples have the right to marry, then homosexual couples should have that right too. When the Army wanted to have a policy about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” they should have enforced that for heterosexual soldiers too and not just homosexuals because if one group has the right to express itself, then every group should have that right too. A majority of Americans favor gay marriage except for some very conservative religious groups who may be against it. We are a democracy that’s based on majority rules, so if a majority of Americans want equality for homosexuals, then that should be the law of the land for this great nation.

D Grade
No clear claims:

A large percentage of Americans are homosexuals, or at least they’re willing to say they are. Nobody should be allowed to tell them that they can’t serve in the Army if they’re brave enough to go to war, so it’s not fair to make them admit to being gay because it’s not relevant to their ability to serve as soldiers. The Army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would probably not be passed by a majority of Americans because most Americans know somebody who is gay and they don’t have prejudice against them. The religious groups don’t like “don’t ask, don’t tell” because they think if gay soldiers are allowed to be in the Army, then who can say whether they would create problems for the other soldiers? And not just whether they would be brave enough to be in combat; we have to wonder how they would behave when there was no actual fighting.

I hope the value differences among these samples are obvious, and that you feel inspired by the differences to strive for the most specific, most logical, most persuasive writing to achieve your goal—not better grades, but an enhanced ability to get what you want from people by persuading them.

I don’t know any better way to demonstrate the difference between essays that earn different grades than to provide examples like this.

Please evaluate the effectiveness of this illustration with a Reply below. Thank you.

38 Responses to Grade Levels

  1. ahntkd99 says:

    It is really helpful and valuable to students. There are examples from A grade to D grade. After read “grade scale”, we can recognize how we should write it.


  2. tenere84 says:

    These examples of essays illustrate how much one’s grade can deteriorate depending on how persuasive and well-reasoned their arguments are. On one hand there is an A-level essay that makes reasonable claims while using excellent rhetoric that perpetuates its persuasiveness; on the other a D-level essay that contains no clear claims as well as bad grammar. The illustration makes one look like a professional article and the other a Reddit comment. Obviously, knowing how not to make a Reddit-level essay well help one accomplish their goal of being a better writer.


  3. These examples varied from excellent to poor in their writing in terms of brevity, conciseness, and clarity. This greatly demonstrated the way one is supposed to object to an argument and how not to. It is obvious that diction is critical to one’s stance on a topic and can sway a reader to be either confused or to agree with an argument.


  4. Being able to visually spot differences side by side is a major and sometimes tasking skill. However, when given examples like these in this demonstration it makes the job much more obvious. Also, knowing exactly what is expected of you and what to strive for is extremely insightful. Just at a glance, I can see where my writing style stands and what it will take to improve to the level I inspire to achieve.


  5. roses0102 says:

    The example of each writing helped my see what the differences are between A and D writings and how the different. The brevity and clarity in paragraph one is what to strive for. It is very helpful to have it written out on paper for future reference of what do do/ what not to do. When writing I will be using these arguments as a guide in order to achieve the best grade possible. You must be clear and powerful in your argument to be able to persuade the reader.


  6. voxpopuli075 says:

    This demonstration was useful because it helped illustrate the clear differences between the different letter grades. The demonstration also helped provide insight into how the professor grades work and what his expectations are.


  7. lucbe219 says:

    The grading scale examples listed above are going to be very useful in the weeks to come and especially when we expect specific grades out of this class. The paragraphs explained in class illustrate a very clear picture of what is expected of us to achieve a better grade. They are also helpful to follow closely when constructing our own papers. With each example, the letters were getting smaller, however, they were getting their points across much better than the D graded letter. For example, there were less filler words in A and B, yet the reason for the letter was much more clear. This shows that quality is much better than quantity when writing papers. Also, the words used in Letter A were more complex, yet they explained everything the readers needed to know.


  8. Jayv23 says:

    The paragraphs provided with different level grades are very helpful because it gives the student something to work off of and try connecting their writing format to the same way these examples are written. You can clearly see the difference between the letter grade writing because all of the writing connects and supports their writing. this will allow me to compare my writings to the examples and try to tweak the writing to increase my writing skills for a better letter grade. it is super important to include the policy and the supporting details to correlate correctly with the writing.


  9. Evaluation:
    In evaluating the transition from each claim and argument, we can see that the paragraphs transition from having a strong fiery claim that sparks up controversy to a simple essay type paragraph that looks like it was typed just for the sake of completion, something that looks like it was made by a high school freshman trying to finish an essay during a test with no clarity of what he is reading.


  10. The clear demonstration of what a solid A to a D may be is extremely supportive, as it gives me a great standing point of where as a writer my work fits in and the possible letter grade I would receive. These examples will be great for referrals as I begin writing new pieces of work as they give me a valid reasoning for what letter grade I may get in the future. It can give me a excellent base line to set goals for myself on my future writing. It can be used as sort of a rubric for writing an A verse a D.


  11. bmdpiano says:

    The given paragraphs that exemplify each grade level of writing is very helpful to illustrate the major differences between each grade. It is clear that the Grade D writing is not concise and clear about the issue it is trying to address. The writing also does not connect thoroughly throughout by coming back to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Instead, it uses rhetorical questions which adds too much attitude rather than making a clear argument. The Grade A writing does a much better job of keeping the argument clear and strong by using tightly packed sentences. It is also more brief, but this is because the writing adds more points into less sentences to make the argument as effective as it can be. I will definitively refer back to these examples to assist me in my future writing pieces.


  12. yankeefan25 says:

    The A identified what they were writing about right away. They used one adjective to take their stance and get their point across. They have a clear Agenda claim. Brief and clear are the two most important things in writing. The Second Paragraph is all over the place and is not clear. There is a heavy lack of clarity in the second paragraph. The C grade is not clear and does not focus on one point, they also are making claims that contradict themselves. They also end their paragraph with a statement that does not have anything to do with what they’re writing about. The D grade starts off by making an argument to something that is not true and relevant to what they are writing about. The final paragraph doesn’t take a side and flip flops the entire time.


  13. ajuuy7 says:

    These paragraphs help identify how our work will be graded and also how high our standards should be for ourselves. The A paragraph is persuasive and uses key words to get their point across and I found that it is something to look too for guidance. There are clear distinctions between each paragraph and they will be helpful in the future to compare our own work to to see around what grade we think we will receive.


  14. Valcom says:

    Having the paragraphs divided up into four sections allows for the students and myself to understand how to properly construct an A paper or help move from a C paper to a B paper in the next revision. Each paragraph convinces you on what you can do better and what to not turn the view towards. For me being able to see a visual is very helpful as I am a Visual Learner.


  15. By looking at these grades side by side, it really helps me and others like me that feel like you have to write a lot for it to be considered a good grade but, by looking over this we see that you can write a strong opening by just using 3 brief and clear sentences.


  16. Seeing the differences in paragraph, all relating to an example of each letter grade it could receive, is very beneficial. It can help any student keep on top of their work and develop a decent understanding of what grade they could be obtaining. Using these examples to further better any work is an efficient way to write.


  17. mpsj13 says:

    I find this method of presenting a work of writing to aspire to as well as work to avoid to be very helpful. The A work compared to the D work shows that length does not coincide with the success of the writing. It is helpful to have a physical example of practices to follow and practices to avoid while writing a persuasive piece.


  18. kraemercali says:

    the grade level examples provide a basis of what we should strive to have our writing look like. I understand how the grades are less important than how well our writing performs however having the set examples of each grade level we can self evaluate our own works and recognize how we must improve.


  19. lg102015 says:

    The illustration above, I believe is very helpful and useful. I am the type of writer that values examples because I learn well from others writing. So seeing the difference between each of the grades, makes me want to make my writing mirror more of the A paragraph then anything else, because I now know what one looks like. I also went through the examples and compared the writing that I have already done, to get an idea of where I am at on the grading scale already.


  20. Notes:
    Early letter grades are not a thing because it promotes the idea that the rough draft you wrote is portfolio ready. The Professor does not care about grades, the Professor cares about us being better writers. Grading is highly subjective, such as judging someone for playing the piano.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I find the paragraphs that are divided into examples of what is considered to be a good and poorly written paragraph extremely helpful. It gives a clear indication of what we need to accomplish in a written assignment in order to receive a higher grade. Being confident with my claims and avoiding contradictions is something I definitely need to work on. Without these examples, I might not have realized what I needed help on.


  22. Anonymous says:

    This illustration is effective because it allows for the writers to see how to be clear while writing and also getting the point across. Being able to compare work with other paragraphs of different grading standards is helpful to the longevity of all of our writing careers.


  23. Anonymous says:

    The ‘A’ paragraph was quite persuasive and the author’s language and literary techniques helped it to be so. The response’s brevity and clarity while writing assisted the author’s point in being driven, and in persuading the audience that the DADT policy is wrong, and that the homosexual community deserves to feel welcome in every environment, whether they choose to announce their homosexuality or not. This A-D scale helps me to see what a successful persuasive piece looks or does not look like.


  24. Morra2024 says:

    The detailed description by the professor of the differences between excellent and poor writing was very beneficial to me. It will help me in the future to understand how to achieve specify, clarity and brevity in my own writing.


  25. influenza123 says:

    This illustration was very effective in showing me what differs the different levels in the quality of writing. The examples illustrated 4 different grade levels of writing and each with an example that discussed the same topic. Before reading this I would not have been able to tell you what exactly differentiates an “A” and “B” level writer. Now it has become clear to me what “brevity and clarity” means. Those two characteristics help to enhance the persuasiveness of an argument. As the grades get lower, sentences become less interconnected and sound less like academic-level writing. The higher level graded writings do not contain contradictory statements or unnecessary statements that do not aid the argument. Instead, the higher quality writing contains all the relevant information in a concise package.


  26. This illustration is effective. These samples will help me achieve more specific, persuasive, and logical writings.


  27. hershey515 says:

    It is most important for me to improve myself to become a stronger writer. These examples demonstrate how brevity and clarity is something that should be required to writing a good essay. Writing an essay is one thing but be able to persuade the reader is the main goal of the essay. Being that I was ale to see the differences between an”A” average and a “D” I know where I can improve on in my essays


  28. smellycat23 says:

    The above Grade Level examples are very useful to know where my writing falls and how I can improve. Showing an example of how each paragraph was written is beneficial because in the future, I’ll know a little more to achieve a higher letter grade. I learned not to contradict yourself, to be fluent and decisive, to be clear and short, and to be persuasive.


  29. I can clearly distinguish the difference in writing style and level between the A-D grade replies. Every vocabulary word is used correctly in the A grade while in the D grade, there are not many vocabulary words. I will definitely strive to write more like the A grade reply and to achieve my goals as a writer.


  30. Anonymous says:

    Seeing the different paragraphs broken down by letter grades, it really helped me see what I will have to do to my writing and how I will have to change my writing in order ti accomplish at least an A or B in this course. It is important to make strong claims and be firm with what you are trying to say without accidentally contradicting yourself.


  31. Seeing the paragraphs being broken down and sorted through as to why the author received the grade that they did is very important for the success for all students in this class. I am a visual learner myself, so having everything laid out in front of me is a good way for me to truly understand how to go about writing persuasively.


  32. iamsleepy01 says:

    Seeing the example of a letter D grade writing and The A Grade writing, there is a huge difference in the style. The D grade was all over the place and A grade was more organized. It is really effective to see what a good writing looks like compared to a low grade writing. These examples are models for how good the writing is.


  33. lazybear8 says:

    First the policy is named. It calls it an example of discrimination, and that there are more than one laws that deny freedom. Very well used judgement language. The overturning of the law- we know how to writer feels about it. Density of thought. Identify the minorities and majority that oppress.
    These paragraphs were helpful in seeing the different ways in which we as writers can achieve a higher level of writing. Specifically the writing that was given a D grade. This deserved a D according to Prof. D. because it didn’t have a clear claim. After analyzing the paragraph I did not find any that resembled a claim and therefore his grading is understandable.


  34. athenapup4 says:

    Seeing these paragraphs side by side and discussing how to achieve high letter grades and receive more feedback has given me a much more clear understanding of how the class is run. If i want to better my writing i must try to write the best piece of writing that i can each time in order to receive good detailed feedback, ultimately improving my writing skills.


  35. lelebxby says:

    By reading and evaluating the 4 levels of graded writing, I now understand that in order to make an effective, powerful piece, you must be informative, bold and clear. To convince an audience, having lose and choppy opinions will leave the reader confused and underwhelmed, eventually making the writer lose their case.


  36. bestbaker123 says:

    It’s really helpful to see the “grade scale” for our writing so to speak. You can see a clear difference between A grade writing and C and D grade writing. The illustrations side by side are effective because they help us at writers to see how our writing would be scaled and how the logic behind it would be analyzed and picked apart. I think the samples will really help us as writers to improve our writing and go up the scale.


  37. bane1900 says:

    It is very valuable to students to be able to see examples of the different graded levels of writing. This page gives students the ability to model their work after an exemplar, which will make them much stronger writers.


  38. Anonymous says:

    The demonstration of each grade of writing was very helpful for the future of the class, I will most definitely use these examples to critique my work later on and make sure that I am on the right track for this class.


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