Notes about grading the research paper and assigning final grades in WRIT 300 courses.

The Writing Program has suggested criteria for the research paper. These criteria can be used as a final grading rubric, or as a set of criteria for peer-review, or the review of drafts. The different areas can be given different weights in each paper. They can also be made into holistic rubrics by taking the sentence from each category associated with each grade level, and putting them together in paragraphs. These criteria are particularly helpful for clarifying expectations for the formal papers for both instructors and students.

Writing 300 Rubric for Research Paper

More general grading notes designed for instructors follow below.

Please keep these policies in mind as you assess students' written work during the course of the semester.  Please bear in mind that York College/CUNY has a +/- grading system, making it possible to adjust the following grades accordingly.


Given to a distinct minority of the class, for work that is particularly interesting and competent.  Work at the A level stands out not only in a certain sense of authority, but also in its "polish" and control of the conventions of academic writing:  The writer handles sources gracefully, follows conventions of citation accurately, and makes very few errors in written English.


Given to students whose work is successful in responding to most assignments and manifests independent thinking, solving the problems posed by the assignments in competent and interesting ways.  Writing is coherently organized.  A student who receives the grade of B uses and documents source material effectively and accurately.  The student may be an ESL student with some remaining problems with English idiom; however, his or her writing is easily readable.  There is no pattern of consistent error in handling of standard written English in work that has been independently revised. The student should:

  • Submit papers in appropriate format
  • Punctuate titles and spell authors' names correctly
  • Follow appropriate citation format (on the final assignment, this should be close to perfect)
  • Edit for spelling, grammar, punctuation


Given to students who have completed all assignments in an acceptable fashion, addressing and dealing with the task at hand.  Source material may not always be integrated gracefully, but it is handled appropriately (i.e., without inadvertent plagiarism).  Students may still have some problems with editing their writing successfully, but they have made discernible progress in this area and are generally successful.

Remember: A grade of C in any course is a faculty member's certification that the student is working at a level appropriate for the BA/BS degree.  Your grade of C will be seen by subject-area faculty as a mark of "proficient" writing.


The D grade should be given rarely, most often to a student who has demonstrated the ability to write passing-level work, but who has a pattern of absence, lateness, and/or missing work.


Given for work - completed under revision conditions - that does not meet standards for college-level writing proficiency.

About the D and F grades: It is important to recognize (and convey to students) that a grade of F is usually more advantageous to a student than a grade of D.

  1. A grade of D counts negatively in a student's GPA forever.  In contrast, if the student is a freshman with fewer than 28 credits completed, an F grade in a 100-level course turns into an NC on the transcript and is not considered in computing the GPA. ( York College Bulletin 1999-2001 , 23).
  2. Even after freshman year, the CUNY F-grade policy allows a student to retake courses with an F grade.  If the retake grade is C or higher, it is the higher grade that is computed in the GPA (up to a total of 16 credits).
  3. If a student is close to graduation, a D may be the better choice of grade.

When you encounter a student in your courses for which the choice between the F/NC and the D is an issue, please discuss what is at stake for the student with them.

About the WU: Give the grade of WU only to students who really stopped attending class, not to those who may disappear in the last two weeks of the course with an F in sight.

About Incomplete (INC) grades: The Incomplete (INC) means that the student attended the class regularly throughout the semester but, due to extenuating circumstances, is missing some of the written work of the course. Generally, the student should be missing only one major assignment if they are to be granted an INC grade.

By College policy, Incompletes must be made up by the third and tenth weeks, respectively, of the following semester.