Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay When I hand back analytic essays, I try to leave room to do a collective post-mortem and talk about common problems or challenges that appeared in a number of essays. I think it helps a lot to know that the comment you got is a comment that other people got, and also to know how some people dealt more successfully with the same issue. All anonymous, of course, and following my Paula-like nature, nothing especially brutal in terms of the actual grades dispensed.
I usually base my comments on some scrawled meta-notes I keep as I work through each batch of essays. Sometimes there are unique problems that arise in relation to a particular essay question, which is sometimes a consequence of my having given enough rope for certain students to hang themselves in the phrasing of the question. Often there are problems I’ve seen before and commented upon.
1) Some of these perennial comments concern smaller but important stylistic errors and misfires, such as: