Criteria For Evaluation Essays

Like any other academic essay, the Evaluation Essay requires a great deal of organization to be a success and earn the student a high grade. And an outline most always helps accomplish this goal.


But first a little background on an Evaluation Essay. And here is an free sample of an evaluation essay.


When faced with an Evaluation Essay writing assignment, the student-writer has to quite literally evaluate a subject – a work of literature, like a play, for example – based on a set of criteria, while also offering their judgment about this subject.


In writing this essay, the student-writer objectively analyzes all sides, aspects and elements of that subject in order to share an arguable, fair evaluation. Ultimately, they are to fully explore the subject and provide points and evidence to illustrate and support their judgment, their evaluation.


Evaluation Essays are written in a format similar to the five-paragraph essay, with an introduction paragraph that has a Thesis Statement (in this case, the student-writer’s evaluation of the subject, followed by the criteria they’re using to make their evaluation); it should have several body paragraphs for illustrating the Thesis (how the writer came up with their evaluation, as well as their criterion they used to come to this conclusion), and lastly a conclusion paragraph tying it all together, indicating the essay is concluding.


While evaluation involves subjectivity and, therefore, opinion, an Evaluation Essay is done properly, effectively and academically when it does not come off as an opinionated piece but rather a reasonable and objective evaluation. The key to producing this kind of essay that earns a high grade is simple: establishing (and then sharing with the reader) clear and fair criteria, judgments and evidence.




See also:


     Evaluation Essay Writing

     Evaluation Essay Topics

     Evaluation Essay Sample




Outline for an Evaluation Essay


I. Introduction Paragraph


A. Topic Sentence – organizes the essay’s first paragraph and introduces the essay’s Thesis, acting as a signpost for the essay’s overall argument. 


B. Thesis Statement – the paper’s premise that is to be argued or maintained in the essay, generally a sentence or two explaining the meaning of a certain subject, text, etc., which then leads to them listing the criteria (see C.) they are using to evaluate and defend it.


C. The list of the set of criteria the student will use to evaluate the subject.


Body Paragraphs


The Evaluation Essay’s Body Paragraphs directly follow the Introduction Paragraph and defend the Thesis Statement.


For this particular essay, each of the three main points – the criteria in which something is being evaluated – that will defend the essay’s argument are illustrated in each body paragraph one at a time; each body paragraph addresses the various criteria that the student-writer will utilize to logically evidence their case for evaluating the subject.


Each body paragraph should begin with a Transitional Phrase (Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, Lastly, Next, Subsequently, Furthermore, In conclusion, Finally, etc.) indicating to the reader that a new point is being examined or put forth. Examples are appropriately demonstrated below.


Also, before each body paragraph expounds on the criteria, the student must remember to restate their Evaluation Essay’s Thesis – but not verbatim as it was stated originally in the Introduction Paragraph – in order to keep the reader focused and reminded of the essay’s original argument.


II. Body Paragraph No. 2


A. Transitional Phrase – First of all, Firstly, To start off with, To begin with


B. Restate Thesis


C. First bit of criteria (The first reason why the student’s Thesis is true)



III. Body Paragraph No. 3


A. Transitional Phrase – Secondly, Next, Then, Furthermore, Also, Moreover


B. Restate Thesis


C. Second bit of criteria (The second reason why the student’s Thesis is true)


IV. Body Paragraph No. 4


A. Transitional Phrase – Next, Then, Furthermore, Also, Moreover, Thirdly, Lastly


B. Restate Thesis


C. Third and last bit of criteria (The third and final reason why the student’s Thesis is true)


(More paragraphs can be added to the Body-Paragraph section if another point needs or warrants further illustrating.)


V. Conclusion Paragraph – which ties the essay together to better the reader’s understanding of its argument.


A. Transitional Phrase – Lastly, In conclusion, To sum it up, Ultimately, Finally


B. A Summary of the Essay, from the original Thesis Statement to its three main points of support (the criteria) that are illustrated in the body paragraphs.


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A Criterion for Evaluating Papers and Essays

Perhaps the most difficult task for the educator is to evaluate a student's writing. An important reason for this difficulty is the educator's concern that the evaluation process is too subjective; that is, the "correctness" of a paper is perceived by the student as only the educator's unsupported opinion. This concern usually is the product of habitually seeing education as a process of right or wrong answers, whether this perception is viewed by the educator or by the student. While objective tests can examine the student's comprehension about facts and figures, written papers about divergent knowledge offer a challenge, because the student's paper cannot be evaluated by the same criterion as a true-false test about knowledge that is convergent.

For this reason, writing is given little priority by educational technocrats, who emphasize processes rather than rhetoric. Objective tests are satisfactory to determine whether a student has minimal knowledge required by the techocrats, and the student's standing can be readily determined by the grading scale. Students are technically and socially trained in order to "fit in American society." However, to employ rhetoric means having to evaluate differences in ideas, which is becoming more politically unacceptable in the schools, because differences create friction. In order to get a job, a student does not have to struggle with words or with ideas.

An objective scale is impossible for evaluating writing. In reality, like the mythological "average student," there is no such thing as an average paper. The reason is because papers deal with ideas, not with answers. Ideas cannot be viewed in terms of being average or above-average, but only as being clear and logical, or unclear and illogical. Ideas may express truth or error, but never are these ideas "average." Therefore, the evaluation of papers centers on whether the student successfully expresses his ideas in a clear and compelling way. While important to proper communication, grammar is not the emphasis when evaluating the student's work. Only after the educator has considered the presentation of the message are concerns about spelling, grammar, and mechanics addressed. However, since the technocratic establishment is hooked on GPAs, the educator must assign some letter grade in order to appease the misguided makers of policy.

The F paper should be rare. Every student is not so completely devoid of ideas that he cannot organize or discuss a topic. If the student fails, the reason will be his failure to acquire a working knowledge of grammar, and not because the student lacks ideas. The only real question for the evaluator will be to determine the difference between the A, the B, and the C paper. Typically, the difference between mediocre writing and uncommon writing is that the better writer uses transitions between thoughts and uses specific support in the form of examples, illustrations, and anecdotes. The common writer uses language that a politician uses--trite phrases, vague generalities, and noncommittal hedging. The difference between the A and B paper is that the writer of the A paper has written a nearly flawless product.

The Evaluator's Checklist

1.    While not necessary, you should consider reading the essay aloud to the student. If the reading reveals weaknesses in logic and grammar, have the student revise the paper before any further evaluation. As you read the paper, the student himself will discover his own errors or lack of logic.

2.  The second reading is to find failure in communication.

  •   Is there a weak thesis or, even worse, no thesis?
  •   Do the topic sentences fail to prove the thesis?
  •   Is the support just vague generalizations and not specific?
  •   Are pronouns used for subjects or objects?
  •   Are vague nouns used such as "person," "thing," "society," and "event"?

3.  Use a check mark to indicate lines that have grammatical or spelling errors. The student is now required to discover his own errors without the educator's "correcting" them for him.

4.    You should always create a short paragraph that will serve as the end note.

  • Explain what the student is doing right. 
  • Tell the student what you would liked to have known more about in his paper, but that he failed to say.
  • Find one--two at the most--concepts that the student needs to do for the rewrite or next essay.
  • End with an encouraging note. Tell the student how pleased you are that he has progressed, how you enjoyed reading this particular essay, or some other appropriate remark. The evaluation ends on a positive note.

5.  Assign a letter grade. The following criteria are used by colleges when assigning a grade to the paper. Papers are evaluated for content and organization, as well as for grammar and mechanics. Most college professors assign a failure to any paper with three major errors in grammar. Some colleges are even stricter regarding grammar.

6.    Miscellaneous considerations
  • Papers should be double-spaced, even when the student writes by hand. The space between the lines allows you to place your comments near the student's idea that needs attention.
  • Always have the student rewrite the paper. Students need to learn that the first written product is always a rough draft.

The A essay:
  • has a strong central idea (thesis) that is related to the assignment;
  • has a clear, logical organization with well developed major points that are supported with concrete and specific evidence;
  • uses effective transitions between ideas;

  • uses appropriate words composing sophisticated sentences;

  • expresses ideas freshly and vividly;

  • and is free of mechanical, grammatical, and spelling errors.

The B essay:
  • has a strong central idea that is related to the assignment;

  • has a clear, logical organization with developed major points, but the supporting evidence may not be especially vivid or thoughtful;

  • uses appropriate words accurately, but seldom exhibits an admirable style while the sentences tend to be less sophisticated;

  • and has few mechanical, grammatical, and spelling errors that do not distract from the overall message.

  • The C essay:
  • has a central idea that is presented in such a way that the reader understands the writer's purpose;

  • has an organization that reveals a plan, but the evidence tends to be general rather than specific or concrete;

  • uses common words accurately, but sentences tend to be simplistic and unsophisticated;

  • and one or two severe mechanical or grammatical errors.

  • The F essay will exhibit one or more of the following problems:
    • lacks a central idea (no thesis);

    • lacks clear organization;

    • is not related to the assignment;

    • fails to develop main points, or develops them in a repetitious or illogical way;

    • fails to use common words accurately;

    • uses a limited vocabulary in that chosen words fail to serve the writer's purpose;

    • or has three or more mechanical or grammatical errors.

    Major errors in grammar: The following are considered major errors in grammar.
    • Fragment

    • Comma slice, or fused sentence

    • Subject-verb agreement

    • Pronoun-antecedent agreement or pronoun reference

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