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Argument Essay Grading Criteria
When grading your argument essay, I’ll be looking for the following:

Subject is appropriate: not off-limits or overly opinionated/emotional.
Thesis statement presents a clear position.
Logical claims support your thesis.
Shows awareness of audience and potential counterarguments.


Shows rather than tells – specific evidence from sources supports your points.
Relies on a fair number of solid claims/reasons on your side.
Counterarguments are raised and addressed effectively.
Argument is original but supported by research.


Interesting and correct word choice.
Good sentence variety.
Punctuation, grammar, and spelling are correct.
Writing is clear and concise.
Tone of language is appropriate and respectful – convincing to readers.


Argument builds from clear thesis at the beginning to persuasive ending.
Essay stays focused on thesis until the end.
Introduction gets reader’s attention and makes him/her want to keep reading.
Paragraphs are focused and unified, with clear transitions between criteria.
Counterarguments are logically placed and addressed.
Conclusion ties up loose ends and closes effectively.


Uses MLA manuscript form.
All quotes, stats, opinions of others and little-known facts are cited with correct parenthetical citations.
At least 3 and not more than five sources are cited.
Works cited page contains complete publication data, in MLA format

Do not write about abortion, gun control, vaccinations, religious issues, politics or other politically or emotionally charged issues. There is a reason these topics continue to be debated: they are very difficult ethical dilemmas that are difficult to prove with evidence. They are also very hard to do well. You should also avoid conspiracy theories and other topics that are just…tired.
Instead, I want you to write about something that you can be original and objective about. You must fairly see both sides. (Down the road, peer feedback will be designed to help you see the other side — remember that this doesn’t mean that your essay won’t work! Your peers will only be trying to help you see the other side fairly.)
I hope to challenge you to write on fresh issue. To see if your issue will work, see if you can put it in the form of a question: Should __(we do or not do something)___ ?
Remember, too, that you can’t tackle a topic like world hunger, social security, cloning, war, or health care in four typed, double-spaced pages. It’s generally better to choose a simple, clear issue and argue it well.
Consider going to the Opposing Viewpoints database from the library homepage and checking out the topics listed there. Conduct some sample searches to see what’s “out there.”

The Argument Essay Guidelines
Write a paper persuading your audience to agree with you about an arguable, controversial issue based on the research you used for the annotated bibliography. You may switch topics, but you will have to find more sources and notify me in advance.
The paper should be:

4-5 pages in length (which is 1,000 -1250 words)
based on research from 3-5 sources
12-point font in Times New Roman or Arial
double spaced
submitted with an MLA Works Cited page


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