The checklist is inspired by the Ashford UWC

Main Components


☐      Did you follow all of the assignment instructions?

☐      Appropriate page length? (Minimum page length + the Works Cited?)

☐      Did you include references to primary and secondary sources?

☐      Does your essay include summary, critique, analysis/synthesis as directed in the prompt?


☐       Do the opening sentences draw the reader in?

☐       Do you provide adequate context for the topic/ theme?

☐       Do you formally introduce the text (film or novel) your essay will analyze?

☐       Does the introduction lead your reader clearly to your thesis?


☐       Is your thesis specific and focused using precise word choice?

☐       Does your thesis make a point worth considering?  In other words, does it answer what the significance of your argument is? Does it go beyond observation (for example, Annihilation uses the uncanny) to make a claim (Annihilation uses the uncanny to_________________.)

Topic Sentences:

☐       Do your paragraphs begin with topic sentences that clarify the argument for the paragraph?

  • Avoid beginning body paragraphs with quotes, plot summary, generalizations, or facts.

Body Paragraphs:

☐      Does each paragraph have a single topic or point?

☐      Do you develop your claims thoroughly with evidence, reasons, or examples?

☐      Do all the ideas in your paragraph flow together and prove or illustrate your topic sentence?

☐      Have you made adequate transitions from paragraph to paragraph?

☐      Is each paragraph related to your main idea or thesis?


☐      Does your conclusion begin with a brief summation of your thesis/main points?

☐      Does your conclusion reflect on the importance of your topic to the reader/ society?

☐      Does your conclusion leave your reader with something meaningful to think about?


Direct Quotations:

☐       Did you integrate the quotes with a signal phrase: In “Nutritionism,” Michael Pollan argues, “   " (42). OR a lead-in sentence: Langston Hughes creates an optimistic tone through the speaker’s emphatic belief that America can still become a land of opportunity: “  " (lines 7-8).

☐       Did you cite your quotations using proper MLA formatted in-text citations? For example:

  • (Pollan 42)—texts with author and page #
  • (Roberts)—texts with author but no page #, usually a web source.
  • (“Anthropocene”)—text with no author or page #.  Use a shortened version of the text’s title.

☐      If you have block quotations (quotes that extend over four typed lines), did you format them correctly?

Paraphrasing  & Summarizing:

☐      Do you cite the information you paraphrased or summarized from sources with in-text citations?

☐      Did you check your document to make sure that any ideas taken from another source were cited?  Failure to cite ideas taken from sources is a form of plagiarism.

Voice & Style

☐       Do you avoid overly casual language or clichés?

☐       Does your paper sound appropriately academic?  In other words, if you use varied vocabulary, do the words fit the context of your sentences?

☐       Are your sentences clear, precise, and easy to understand?

☐       Any unnecessary wordiness?

☐       Do your ideas flow logically from one idea to the next?


☐       Is your paper formatted according to MLA guidelines? Appropriate header? Page numbers? Title?

☐       Do you have a Works Cited that is MLA formatted?

☐       Do you use 12 pt. Times New Roman Font?

☐       Do you use 1” margins?


☐       Did you proofread your paper for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors?

☐       Did you read your essay aloud to catch syntax or awkward phrasing issues?