Q. Can you tell me again how papers are graded in this course?

A. In this course, you will write at least eight and probably as many as ten papers. I will grade each of these papers in six categories: Content, Support, Organization, Grammar and Mechanics, Diction and Style. See ENG 111: Departmental Standards for the grading scale I will use. Notice that in each category, you will receive a grade of 1 through 5; these numbers are equivalent to the letter grades “F” to “A.” If all of the grades for the first four categories receive a grade of C or better, you will receive a letter grade (like A, B, or C) on your essay. If even one of the grades in these four categories receives less than a 3, your paper will receive a letter grade of X.

Q. Okay, I understand what you mean by grades A, B, and C, but what does X mean? Does that mean I flunked?

A. No, an X does not men you flunked. It means that your paper is not proficient in one of the four major categories. Because of this, the paper can not be used in your portfolio. It is important to learn from your X papers. If a paper received a 2 in organization, but a 4 in all other categories, that means that you wrote a paper that would have earned a B had it been more carefully organized.

Q. What do “X-rated” errors have to do with my paper grade?

A. “X-rated” is a term that refers to serious grammatical and mechanical errors. These include sentence fragments, subject-verb, verb form errors, fused sentences, run-on sentences, and comma splices. Any one of these errors in your writing will result in a grade of 2 or lower in the category of grammar and mechanics and a grade of X on your essay. For more information go here or here.

Q. Wait a second! Are you saying that if I have one comma splice in my paper, I will receive an X on that essay?

A. Yes.

Q. How do my grades on the essays contribute to my course grade?

A. That’s up to your professor. Please consult your syllabus.

Q. What is a proficient portfolio?

A. A proficient portfolio contains three essays, each of which received a grade of C or higher. One of these must be a multiple draft essay, one must be an impromptu (in-class) essay, and one must be written in response to a text. These essays will be collected in a manila folder and submitted to the chair of the English Department and Director of the Writing Program as evidence that you have proved yourself as a college-level writer. Portfolios will be available to your English 112 teacher, should she or he have questions about your writing skills.

Q. What happens to me if I don’t finish a proficient portfolio?

A. You will still submit a portfolio of your three best papers to the English Department. However, you will receive an X grade for the course. Please remember that X is not the same as an F. It stands for “conditional incomplete.” It means that you must repeat the course next semester. While you will not receive credit for the course until you complete it with a letter grade (like A, B, or C), your GPA will not be adversely affected by your grade.

Q. This all sounds very tough. Does anyone pass this course? What are their secrets?

A. Yes: usually at least two-thirds of the class will go on to English 112 in the Spring. Typically, these are the students who take the class seriously from day one. Several former students of this type have provided advice. Do note that some students, through no fault of their own, enter college without adequate reading and writing skills. Such individuals may need an extra semester to complete English 111. We do not wish to penalize these students and for this reason we assign the X grade so that they can attempt the class again without having been assigned a failing grade.

Q. This grading system seems harsh and I am just not a very good writer. I think my roommate’s teacher is easier. Should I switch to her section?

A. All English 111 professors at Georgetown College use this grading system. It was developed by the Department as a whole. Different professors use different assignments, methods, and text-books, but we are all striving to help students meet the same standard of proficiency.