Fall semester is well underway, and the homework and projects are piling up. On top of your numerous tests, tutoring sessions, and mandatory class trips, you’ve got not one, but three term papers to start working on. Ass if finding the time to work on them isn’t hard enough, you have no idea what to write about or where to even begin. Don’t stress. Take notes. Here are 6 ways to help improve your term papers.
Understand what you are writing.
Think of all the written assignments you’ve been given. Now, think of how many of those genuinely interested you. Not many, right? Can you even remember them all? One of the less charming parts of being a student is occasionally having to fulfill requirements for no purpose other than to complete a course. Unfortunately, that lack of attention can show through your work. If you can’t care about what you are writing, at least try to understand it, otherwise your paper will probably come out a garbled mess. The only thing worse than sitting through a totally incoherent oral presentation is being the person who wrote it.
Make an outline.
Do you ever find yourself knowing exactly what you want to write, but unable to put your thoughts clearly into words? If so, you probably need to plan out your papers before actually scripting them. Outlining or scrawling numerous drafts can be a huge pain in the butt, but the extra time and effort is totally worth it. First, know what type of paper you’re writing; depending on the assignment, the paper’s structure will differ. Secondly, specify a topic, and write a strong thesis statement as a foundation (if necessary). Pick a few points to support your topic and dedicate a paragraph to each point. Decide how to conclude your piece. Get good enough at doing this, and writing the actual term papers will be a breeze.
Expand your vocabulary.
Sometimes the toughest part of writing is not being able to find the right words; not because you’re emotionally overwhelmed by Newton’s theories or Melville’s long-winded descriptions, but because you have absolutely no idea what to say about them. If you find yourself speechless or recycling the same words, use a thesaurus (thesaurus.com) for some quick inspiration. Not only will you liven up your paper, but you’ll learn some new words for outside of class!
Read what you write aloud.
Even if your work has no grammatical errors, there’s a chance what you’ve printed makes no sense. Reading what you’ve written out loud to yourself and others will help you catch awkward phrasing, inconsistencies, and mixed up sentences. Your friends can give you feedback and point out things you wouldn’t notice on your own.
Use your resources.
Your school more than likely offers some sort of academic aid for students. If your campus has a writing center, use it! One of its primary purposes is to help you write better term papers. If you don’t have access to a center, most schools also provide tutors and manual writing guides. Online links like Purdue OWL are lifesavers. Some professors will even allow you to submit early drafts and work with you to streamline your work before final submission. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help; even the best writers do it, and you won’t get better unless you try.
Flex your writer’s muscle.
In this technological age, it is very easy to find yourself trading more traditional modes of composition for the inconsistent shorthanded formats of texting or casual blogging. There’s nothing wrong with being on trend with the latest vernacular, but “lmao” and “tysm” don’t exactly cut it in academia or the professional world. Ocassionally, jot down some things in your free time. Whether it’s a journal entry, a short story, or lyrics; writing for your own purposes makes you more considerate of the words and context you choose, and allows you to explore styles you haven’t encountered in a classroom. Who knows, you might even discover a real passion!
Feature image source: and mightyresearchpapers.com
Kendra is an English major at St. John's University, totally embracing life as a student and finding herself along the way.