You can use this checklist to assess your academic writing.  If you don’t know how to assess a particular area listed here, click on the links to access helpful resouces.


  • Thesis is clearly stated, properly qualified, and arguable (takes a position on a debatable point, not just observation/description)
  • Important ideas/concepts are addressed
  • Support is ample and relevant (description, details, examples, explanations)
  • Textual evidence is well chosen and followed by analysis (interpretation of quoted passages)


  • Introduction provides context and direction (summaries and critiques omitted unless part of the assignment)
  • Thesis statement is found at or near end of 1st paragraph
  • Paragraphs have strong topic sentences that are focused on one main idea
  • Purpose of each paragraph is clear (represents a logical step in argument)
  • Transitions between paragraphs are logical and add coherence to the argument
  • Key concepts and terms are effectively defined


  • 1st and 2nd person references (“I” or “you”) are avoided (present ideas in a neutral and objective way)
  • Quotes are incorporated smoothly into your prose
  • Use of words is precise and economical:
  • Avoids wordiness / passive voice / awkward sentences / choppy sentences
  • Avoids overusing unnecessary adjectives and adverbs (window-dressing)
  • Sources are documented consistently and accurately as outlined in your Style Manual Integrity of paper is unquestionable – Plagiarism won’t be tolerated


Careful revision and proofreading is evident – areas below are addressed

  • Punctuation errors don’t interfere with overall clarity
  • Spelling errors or inconsistent spelling of words with multiple spellings are not present
  • Wrong word choice (i.e., there, their, they’re / its and it’s) is not a problem
  • Appearance: paper follows MLA, APA, or Turabian format (Font /margins throughout, heading, line spacing, etc.)