Minnesota’s state standards for high school students serve as a minimal expectation for college-level essays:

Minnesota’s Language Arts Standards for Grades 9–12, Part II: Writing

B: Elements of Composition

The student will engage in a writing process with attention to audience, organization, focus, quality of ideas, and a purpose.

  1. Generate, gather, and organize ideas for writing.
  2. Develop a thesis and clear purpose for writing.
  3. Make generalizations and use supporting details.
  4. Arrange paragraphs into a logical progression.
  5. Revise writing for clarity, coherence, smooth transitions and unity.
  6. Apply available technology to develop, revise and edit writing.
  7. Generate footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies in a consistent and widely accepted format.
  8. Revise, edit and prepare final drafts for intended audiences and purposes.

C: Spelling, Grammar, and Usage

The student will apply standard English conventions when writing.

  1. Understand the differences between formal and informal language styles and use each appropriately.
  2. Use an extensive variety of correctly punctuated sentences for meaning and stylistic effect.
  3. Edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, verb tense, sentence structure, and paragraphing to enhance clarity and readability:
  • a. Correctly use reflexive case pronouns and nominative and objective case pronouns, including who and whom.
  • b. Correctly use punctuation such as the comma, semicolon, colon, hyphen, and dash.
  • c. Correctly use like/as if, any/any other, this kind/these kinds, who/that, and every/many when they occur in a sentence.
  • d. Correctly use verb forms with attention to subjunctive mood, subject/verb agreement, and active/passive voice.
  • e. Correctly use the possessive pronoun before the gerund.

Source: http://education.state.mn.us/content/072367.doc (accessed 7 Jan. 2005)

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