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How to Evaluate a Five-Paragraph Essay

The essay stares you in the face, and it is your job to evaluate it. Your chest clenches, your muscles tense, and drops of sweat form on your forehead. The paragraphs look very long, even intimidating. At this point, you would give anything to avoid this task.

Of course, you can just buy essay online, but what if you can't.

How to Evaluate a Five-Paragraph Essay: eAskme
How to Evaluate a Five-Paragraph Essay: eAskme

Other people are reading: Why Should Students Hire Essay Writing Services?

Whether you want to or not, the essay is waiting.

If that's you, I have great news and a simple plan that will walk you step-by-step through the five-paragraph essay grading method.

Whether you are a teacher, parent, homeschooler, member of a critique group, or grading your own essay, this simple method will take the fear out of your life and give you a transparent plan of action to follow.

Read

As simple as it sounds, the first step of the evaluation is to read the essay.

I don't mean to skim it or immediately start pointing out spelling errors.

I mean read it word for word from beginning to end without correcting anything.

For this step, pretend that you aren't evaluating at all.

You're simply reading it and absorbing the information presented.

This is the no-judgment zone. Be as objective as is humanly possible.

Ask Yourself a Question

Once you've read the entire essay, ask yourself this question: Does the essay fulfill the assignment?

This is assuming, of course, that the essay was written per an assignment.

If the essay was not assigned, find out what the writer intended to accomplish and decide whether or not the goal was met.

An essay can be wonderful, but that doesn't mean it meets the requirements of the assignment.

If the assignment has not been fulfilled, points should be deducted from the final grade.

Content is King

When you read an essay, try not to focus on mechanics or format until you have a good grasp on the actual message conveyed.

Content is the most important thing, the whole reason for the essay.

Make sure the content is relevant, easy to understand, and interesting to read.

Ask yourself, "What does this essay say? What information is presented?"

The content should fulfill the premise outlined in the thesis statement and do so with a sense of style.

The Essay Format

A standard five-paragraph essay follows a specific pattern.

Each section of the essay has a particular function and specific components that should be present.

The general outline is:

  • First paragraph- introduction
  • Middle three paragraphs- body
  • Fifth paragraph- conclusion

If you are unsure of the details of the essay format or need a review, click on the link below to learn the standard essay format.

The Introduction

The purpose of the introduction is to introduce the topic. General information is offered, but no real details or meat.

Make sure the essay includes a hook at the beginning, something that grabs the reader's attention.

This might be a quote, a question, or some other technique.

Beginning writers tend to jump into the topic without taking time to woo the reader. Insist upon a hook.

The introduction must also include a clear thesis statement that explains the topic or purpose of the essay.

Without a thesis statement, the writer will lose focus and the essay will have no sense of direction.

A thesis statement must be present. If it is not, this is a significant deduction.

The Body

When evaluating the body of the essay check to be sure it includes three paragraphs.

Essay lengths can vary, but a standard five-paragraph essay should have three paragraphs in the body.

Make sure that each paragraph focuses on only one subject and that each of those subjects relates to the main thesis statement in the introduction.

The point of the body is to verify and provide evidence for the thesis statement.

Check for a clear topic sentence in each paragraph.

Look for details and examples to back up the claims made.

For example, a writer might use any of the following to prove a point:

  • a quote from a book or expert
  • statistics
  • a story that illustrates the point
  • a scientific or commonly known fact
  • a personal example from the writer's life

This is not an exhaustive list, but ideally, the writer will use a variety of ways to provide details and evidence to back up the thesis statement.

The body is also the place that you need to do some subjective evaluating.

Ask these questions as you read the body of the essay:

  • Is the essay interesting?
  • Does the writing have a particular feel or style? Is that style appropriate for the topic and audience of the essay?
  • Does the writer stay on topic and provide enough details, examples, and explanations to prove the thesis?
  • What kind of language, phrasing, and grammar does the writer use? Is it correct and effective?

The body, being the bulk of the essay, should receive a large percentage of the grade.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is the paragraph that briefly summarizes the essay and wraps it up as a beautiful gift to the reader. The conclusion contains some specific components.

First, the thesis statement is repeated but stated in a new way.

Because the purpose of the conclusion is to wrap up the essay, the conclusion shouldn't contain new facts, evidence, or details to prove the thesis.

Those things should only appear in the body of the essay.

New information is not allowed in the conclusion and a deduction should be taken if it appears there.

Finally, an essay ends much like it begins, leaving the reader thinking.

I call this a reverse hook. The final few lines of the essay should contain a question, a story, or a profound statement that leaves the reader thinking.

Mechanics

I've left mechanics until last because it tends to be the area where most evaluators focus foremost, thereby missing many of the other key factors in the evaluation process.

It's important to address the primary points of evaluation in an essay before focusing too much on mechanical issues.

That said, mechanics are very important to the readability of the essay.

Check for the following issues:

  • grammar
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • capitalization
  • verb tenses
  • note any other glaring mistakes

I generally limit mechanics to about 20% of the grade unless the essay is so riddled with mistakes that it affects the message or readability to the point that the paper is ineffective.

Constructive Feedback

Keep a few things in mind as you evaluate an essay.

First, the age, grade level, and writing experience of the writer must be considered.

You wouldn't grade a paper from a beginning writer the same way you would evaluate an essay from someone with many years of writing experience.

With the younger, more inexperienced writer I like to point out everything praiseworthy and focus on only one or two areas needing improvement.

A more experienced writer will be evaluated in greater detail on all counts.

Also, each successive essay a person writes should show improvement over the previous ones.

Repetitive mistakes or issues that aren't corrected as one grows in essay writing are cause for point deduction.

My preference is, to begin with, praise before addressing areas needing improvement.

My reasoning is simple--it cushions the blow of the critique.

Because writing is subjective and involves putting our thoughts out there for others to accept or reject, it's intensely personal.

A critique can easily be perceived as rejection.

Offering genuine praise first boosts the writer's confidence, thereby lessening the potential feeling of rejection.

Not to mention, it makes the writer more likely to receive the feedback given.

Point out areas needing improvement.

It does the writer little good if you offer only praise or vague, general comments.

The point of the evaluation is not only to evaluate the work the writer has done but also to offer helpful advice for improvement.

This advice needs to be detailed, relating to specific parts of the essay. Specifically, show the writer where improvement is needed.

Finally, be careful of the language you use in the evaluation. Avoid vague language such as "good" or "fine."

Be specific.

Stay clear of negative words like "bad" or "weak." Instead, offer a more affirming alternative such as "areas needing improvement" or "ways to make your writing shine."

Proofreading Checklist

Get the student involved in the evaluation process through the use of a proofreading checklist.

This teaches the student to revise and polish the essay and fosters the idea that a writer should take pride in producing the best possible work.

It also aids the evaluation process because the student will correct glaring issues before the essay reaches your hands.

  • Is my essay written in the standard five-paragraph format?
  • Does my essay have an introduction? Three paragraphs in the body? A conclusion?
  • Is there a hook at the beginning of the essay?
  • Is the thesis statement present? Clear? Does it state the topic of the essay?
  • Does each middle paragraph have a topic sentence and supporting evidence?
  • Is the thesis statement fulfilled in the body of the essay?
  • Does the conclusion summarize the essay without giving new information?
  • Is every sentence a complete sentence?
  • Do all sentences begin with a capital letter? Do any other words need to be capitalized?
  • Are all sentences punctuated properly?
  • Is every word spelled correctly?
  • Is the essay neat and easy to read?
  • Did I do my best work?

About the author: Nicholas H. Parker is a content editor at BuyEssayClub. He used to manage the content team at the company he worked for. Currently, Nicholas writes articles to share his knowledge with others and obtain new skills. Besides, he is highly interested in the web design sphere.

If you still have any question, feel free to ask me via comments.

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