Every essay should clearly state a thesis -- the main idea of the essay. A mere overview of a topic that does not take a stand one way or the other is not a thesis. The main idea of the essay should be obvious to the reader.
The student's essay should be well organized and should not stray from his main topic. The essay should start by introducing the reader to the main points that the writer will cover in the essay. It should use transitions from general to specific to present the information. The essay should end with a conclusion that sums up the main points and restates the thesis.
The student should provide detailed information about her thesis, supported by reputable, authoritative research references. The student should make her strongest points first, including just one main point in each paragraph. She should anticipate and rebut her opponent's arguments against the thesis and discuss plausible alternatives to the thesis.
The student should use a consistent, academic voice. His essay should conform to assigned style guidelines and should be free of misspellings and grammatical errors. The writer should cite all references in proper format, and each reference must support the material for which he cited it.