British Literature

Checklist for Spring Semester Theme Papers

Students have requested additional, direct information on the ways they’ll be graded. I’ve devised a checklist for content and structure to simplify your writing—and my grading. Feel free to break my rules in the name of good writing, but only if you’re willing to accept the risk of doing so.


  1. Does it meet formatting requirements?

Between 500-600 words (You may provide a word count at the end of the essay if you wish. If the essay is too short, I’ll deduct five points for every 20 words missing; if it’s too long, I’ll deduct five points for every 20 additional words.)

MLA format

Times New Roman 12-point typeface


  1. Does the paper make an effective argument?

The thesis should make apparent your interpretation of a central idea from the text.

Is the thesis explicit? Is it at the end of the first paragraph?

Do support paragraphs fulfill the promise of the thesis? Do the topic sentences in support paragraphs relate to the thesis? Do the support paragraphs offer evidence for your interpretation? Do you analyze evidence effectively?


  1. Does the paper employ appropriate style?

Have you used strong verbs and nouns? Avoided passive voice? Trimmed wordy or redundant phrases?

Have you avoided your teacher’s pet peeves—among them rhetorical questions, second person, split infinitives, and the use of “they” or “their” as universal third person singular?

Have you found the right voice for the essay?

2 Responses to British Literature

  1. Maggie Atkinson says:

    How can you show yourself to be a hero without boasting?

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