Discovering Ideas

English Composition Spring 2009 Palomar College

Essay Self-evaluation

The following is a compressed version of the self-evaluation form that is also available as an on-line form that I will ask you to fill out and submit to me after completing each of your essays.  This version is more convenient to print out.   Categories A, B, and C detail the criteria that I will use to evaluate your essay.

A. Thesis statement and essay unity.

  1. Does the thesis statement I have written at the end of the essay really express the main point that I make in the essay? (TS 2)
  2. Does the thesis statement reflect everything in the essay? Does the essay develop everything in the thesis statement? (TS 3)
  3. Does the thesis statement make a positive statement rather than a negative one? (TS 5)
  4. Is every clause in the thesis statement in the active voice? (TS 6) (List the subjects and verbs of each clause in your thesis statement below to illustrate your answer.)
  5. Does your thesis statement answer the questions "why?" and "how?" to the satisfaction of a doubting reader? Your thesis statement, of course, will not support or explain or provide evidence of why or how, but it should state the reasons why it is true if these will be discussed in the essay. (TS 4)
  6. Is your thesis statement clear (TS 7), precise and limited (TS 8), controversial or informative (TS 9), and defensible (TS 10)?

B. Introduction and conclusion.

  1. Is your first paragraph interesting? Does it provide concrete and specific material that is likely to catch the reader’s attention and focus it on your topic? (2d)
  2. Do you make a clear contract with the reader?  Please summarize what you believe your contract is.
  3. Does the conclusion of your essay satisfy your contract with the reader? How? (2d)

C. Body

  1. Do the paragraphs of your essay move in a logical direction? Does the reader have the experience of getting someplace, of answering questions and moving toward a point? Or does the essay jump around for no apparent reason? Evaluate the overall organization of your essay briefly, and then point out where you think the transition between paragraphs is strongest and where it is weakest?
  2. Evaluate the overall organization of your essay briefly, and then point out where you think the transition between paragraphs is strongest and where it is weakest?
  3. Would your essay be persuasive to someone who doubts your thesis statement? What qualities of evidence or support would make it so? (DIH 2.4)  In particular, list your specific examples and clear, vivid cases that illustrate and support your points. Do you write about actual people in the essay? Where could you make the essay more interesting by adding a story, and example, or a more specific explanation?  Are there places where you should introduce a source more clearly or fully or where a citation needs to be provided and corrected?
  4. In the essay, do you answer the question "How do you know?" of every claim you make in such a way that a doubting reader would be satisfied? Evaluate the overall quality of the evidence you use in the essay, then comment on where you think your evidence is strongest and where you think it is weakest. (DIH 2.4)
  5. Is the evidence introduced and explained clearly and cited correctly, when necessary, in accordance with MLA citation and list of works cited format?  (DIH 2.4, 31a 1 and 3)
  6. Does each sentence in each paragraph lead to or from the central point (the topic sentence)? (2a) What is your most coherent paragraph? What your least?
  7. Is every paragraph fully developed? (2c) Which are and which aren’t? What is your best developed paragraph and what your worst?
  8. Is this essay clearly written and relatively free of errors in grammar, spelling, and usage? (5d) What kind of errors have you corrected before submitting this essay? What kind of errors do you believe are still there?


D.  Writing and revision process.

  1. Did you read the essay aloud at every stage of revision?  (DIH 2.1)
  2. Did you revise or rewrite your thesis statement whenever you could make it a better guide for writing and revising your essay? How many times did you revise this thesis?  (DIH 1.5.4)
  3. Did you allow at least one full day between writing your first draft and beginning the revision process? (5a1)
  4. How much time did you spend writing this essay? (This refers to actual writing, not research and planning.)
  5. How much time did you spend in research for this essay?
  6. How much time did you devote to proofreading your drafts for errors and correcting them? When did you do this?


  1. How interesting is this essay?  To what kinds of readers would it be more interesting?  To what kinds of readers less interesting?  What parts are most and what least interesting?  Are there parts where readers will be bored or confused?
  2. How effective an essay do you believe this is. That is, how successful would this essay be a persuading the other members of the class to believe your thesis statement?  Why?

On-line Discovering Ideas Table of Contents
On-line Syllabus

On-Campus Discovering Ideas Table of Contents
On-Campus Syllabus

Discovering Ideas
Palomar College
This page was last edited: 01/05/09