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AP Literature Research Paper Rubric

Your research paper will be graded holistically based on the AP 9-point scale.

A (9-8)

These papers offer a persuasive analysis of the paper topic and thesis statement, synthesizing direct
references to primary and secondary sources to convey the complexity of the topic of the paper. The
papers offer a range of interpretations; providing convincing readings of the primary sources,
application of the secondary sources, and the relationship between the two. They demonstrate
consistent and effective control over the elements of composition in language appropriate to the
analysis of literature. Their textual references are apt and specific. The paper follows MLA guidelines,
including a work cited page, and the paper, not just the work cited page, must include references to at
least 3 secondary sources and 3 primary sources. Though they might not be error-free, these papers are
perceptive in their analysis and demonstrate writing that is clear and sophisticated, and in the case of
earning an A+, especially persuasive.

B (7-6)

These competent papers offer a reasonable analysis of the paper topic and thesis statement,
synthesizing direct references to primary and secondary sources to convey the complexity of topic of the
paper. They are less thorough or less precise in their discussion of the primary sources, application of
the secondary sources, and the relationship between the two. These papers demonstrate the students
ability to express ideas clearly with references to the text, following MLA guidelines, including a work
cited page. The paper, not just the work cited page, must include references to at least 3 secondary
sources and 3 primary sources. These papers do not exhibit the same level of effective writing as papers
scoring an A. While papers that earn a B are generally well-written, those that score a B+ demonstrate
more sophistication in both substance and style.

C (5)

These papers may respond to the chosen topic and thesis statement with a plausible analysis of sources,
but they are superficial in their analysis of the sources, often failing to synthesize the primary and
secondary sources into one argument. They often rely on paraphrase, but paraphrase that contains
some analysis, implicit or explicit. Their analysis of the topic may be vague, formulaic, or minimally
supported by references to the text. There may be some minor mistakes in MLA format, but the paper
still contains a Work Cited page, and the paper, not just the Work Cited page, must include references to
at least 3 secondary sources and 3 primary sources. There may be minor misinterpretations of the
sources. The papers demonstrate some control of language, but the writing may be marred by surface
errors. These papers are not as well conceived, organized, or developed as those that score a B.
D (4-3)

These lower-half papers fail to offer an adequate analysis of the topic and thesis statement. The
analysis may be partial, unconvincing, or irrelevant, or may ignore the complexity of the primary
sources. Evidence from the sources may be slight or misconstrued, or the papers may rely on
paraphrase only. There may be major flaws in MLA format or there may not be sufficient sources to
support the argument. The sources that are used may not be synthesized appropriately. The writing
often demonstrates a lack of control over the conventions of composition: inadequate development of
ideas, accumulation of errors, or a focus that is unclear, inconsistent, or repetitive. Papers that score a
D- may contain significant misreading of the primary sources, or demonstrate incompetent writing.

E (2-1)

These papers compound the weaknesses of those in the D range. Although some attempt has been
made to respond to the topic and defend the thesis, assertions are presented with little clarity,
organization, or support from the sources. A work cited page may be missing and MLA format may be
ignored. These papers may contain serious errors in grammar and mechanics. They may offer a
complete misreading of the primary sources or be unacceptably brief in their analysis.