How to Evaluate an Essay for Organization: Good Questions to Help You Write Better and Teach Better

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Enter Sandman

Mr. Sandman, wearing a beige trench coat, holding a magnifying glass, and talking to himself, hovered over a stack of essays. “Excuse me Mr. Sandman, but you appear to be in Never Never Land. What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m searching for the main idea in this essay,” he replied, “It’s getting to the point where I sleep with one eye open, just in case the main idea shows up. It’s like these kids don’t know how to evaluate an essay for organization.”

“Have you ever taught them how to evaluate an essay for organization?”

This angered Mr. Sandman, so I left. If you run into him don’t say a word about this lesson plan on how to evaluate an essay for organization.

Important Questions

Write the following evaluative questions on the board:


Thesis Statement

  • Is it in the correct position (the last sentence of the introduction)?
  • Have I included relevant points (more important for longer essays; not as important for shorter essays)?
  • Is the thesis statement relevant?
  • Does it answer the topic question, assigned or unassigned?
  • Is the thesis statement stated correctly?

Body Paragraphs

  • Is the argument structured logically?
  • Have I used the proper organizational technique?
  • Is my information relevant and focused?
  • Have I spent too much time discussing side issues?
  • Have I provided transitions?
  • Is my evidence explained and analyzed?
  • Is any of the evidence weak?


  • Does the conclusion provide closure?


  • Does the title reflect the content of the essay?
  • Does the title attract the reader?

Lesson Plan Procedures

Option 1:

  1. Instruct students to copy the above information.
  2. Instruct them to pull out one of their essay drafts.
  3. On a separate slice of paper, instruct them to answer the evaluation questions honestly, with examples and reasons.
  4. Arrange students in groups of 3-4.
  5. Have each student do the same with all the essays in the group.
  6. Instruct students to rewrite a better organized essay.
  7. Give yourself a pat on the back and treat yourself to a round of golf.

Option 2:

  1. Read a published essay.
  2. Instruct students to provide examples of how the author organized by answering the above questions.
  3. Give yourself a pat on the back and read some books with your children.

This post is part of the series: Paragraphs and Sentences

Improving essays, articles, and research papers begins by improving sentences and paragraphs.

  1. Lesson Plan to Teach Paragraph Writing and Paragraph Structure
  2. Teaching the Methods of Paragraph Development
  3. Lesson Plan: Improve Writing with Good Sentence Structure
  4. Lesson Plan: Correct Word Usage
  5. A Lesson Plan on How to Evaluate an Essay for Organization?