Essay Writing Tips

Improving Your College Paper Writing – 15 Tips

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Most college students will not choose writing as a career. In fact, most college students dislike writing paper and essay assignments. To them, it is a terrible activity, maybe even worse than getting a root canal. But write you must, and for most courses you take. So settle yourself in and accept the fact that writing will be a part of your life right now. Because it will also figure greatly into your course grades, and thus your GPA, here are some tips to improve that writing and get those “A’s” and “B’s.”

  1. Try to start on a major essay or research paper as early as possible. Yes, it may seem impossible at this moment, with all of your other course work, but if you are in a last minute rush to get a paper done, it will never be as good as it could have been. Every course has a syllabus, and every syllabus contains essay and paper assignments, along with due dates. You know the “drill.” Develop a calendar of all due dates and then go back three weeks and put in a notation to begin on that essay or paper. Will it be a perfect system and will you always abide by those dates? No, but at least you have a road map that you can try to follow.
  2. Study the details of every essay or paper assignment carefully. If there are prompts or questions from which you are to choose, select the one that interests you most. If it says evaluate, do not summarize; if it says analyze, do not summarize; if it says to demonstrate how an author developed a particular character, do not re-hash the plot. Do exactly what you are told, no more, no less. Nothing frustrates a professor more than having to read through a bunch of irrelevant content to get to the “meat” of what you were supposed to include.
  3. If you don’t fully understand a paper writing assignment, get in touch with your professor early on. S/he will be flattered that you sought guidance and it will look like you are planning well in advance – great PR!
  4. Have a thesis. What’s your point? If you don’t have one, then do the research first – it will help you to think about why the topic is important or what your viewpoint is. These are the things of which good thesis statements are made.
  5. Organize your research into clear sub-topics. This is hard to do, because you are trying to “mesh and meld” material from several sources. One way to determine sub-topics is during your research. If there is a piece you have read that has really divided the topic well, use that as a guide as you develop your outline. Each sub-topic becomes a section of your paper.
  6. Use headings to separate sections of a longer essay or a paper. It keeps the reader on track and makes him/her feel “comfortable.”
  7. Always write more than the minimum page assignment. If the range is 6-8 pages, try to get to 8. If a professor didn’t think students could write 8 pages on a topic, question, or prompt, then s/he wouldn’t have given that number. When you go toward the maximum, you impress them!
  8. “Sell” your topic and thesis with a stunning introduction. It is always good to have some shocking statistic or a relevant anecdote to grab reader attention from the very beginning.
  9. Use spell- and grammar-checkers. Hopefully, you are using a program like Word. It will catch most of your errors but do not rely on these apps completely, for they are sometimes wrong. For example, you may using the word “your” to show possession, which is correct. Word grammar checker may “flag” it and want you to use “you’re” instead. Don’t do it! And double-check any numerals you use – if they are wrong, they won’t be caught.
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  11. Use vocabulary that is appropriate for you and your peers, not your professor. And be certain to explain terminology that is complex and/or unique. Better to over-explain than not at all. This lets your professor know that you really understand what you are writing about.
  12. Put a “quota on your quotes.” Your professor does not want to read what everyone else has said. S/he wants to know that you understand what everyone else has said and that you can discuss it. Use quotes to reinforce big points you are making or when an author has stated something so superbly, it should remain intact.
  13. Format is important. If it were not, you would not be required to use the one that is specified. You should have a style guide – if not go online and get one for the format style you must use. It makes no sense to lose points because citations and bibliographies are not done correctly. And remember, different styles have different title page formats, pagination, and margins – yes, the “devil is sometimes in the details.”
  14. Write a good conclusion. You have a point to make in writing a paper, so make sure that you refer back to that thesis in your conclusion, stating it in another way of course.
  15. Get a good style check tool. These are great, because they will “flag” awkward or verbose phrases and sentences. Many of them will also pick up agreement and verb tense issues. A good one on the market right now is “Style-check.rb,” but you can find many with a simple search.
  16. If all else fails – if you are out of time, if you have too many papers due at once, if you hate the topic and cannot get motivated – find a good custom paper writing service and let a pro get this one done for you! But make sure you choose a professional essay writing service and your paper will be performed on the highest level.
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