I can’t promise you an English teacher that isn’t knit-picky as hell. However, I can give you a few tips and tricks you can use in your next paper. With any luck, these 10 English homework strategies will at the very least facilitate the often tedious process of paper writing.
1. Take notes while you research
Do research! One would think it’s a pretty self-explanatory expectation, but it can get pretty complicated. On one hand, you want to get through that damn reading! You’ve got other things to do and Netflix shows to binge. On the other hand, however, you don’t want to add another 3 hours of work time to your rough draft pouring back over the research again and taking notes. You should, however, be able to write your paper rather freely if you take notes while you research, adding in bits and quotes from your research wherever it fits in. Also, believe me when I say it takes significantly less time to take notes while you read the first time, and most importantly, it takes this time from the beginning of your project, rather than closer to the end where time starts to become more scarce.
2. Get an early head start
You might think this is a pretty obvious English homework strategy, but it’s one that a lot of people have a lot of problems with (myself included, unfortunately): get an early start! It might surprise you but believe it or not, life happens. You can shut yourself away from the world if you want but sooner or later the world comes knocking and there’s no way to get out of dealing with it. In such events, which are as often unforeseeable as they are inescapable, it pays to not lollygag on your English homework, especially considering how tedious it can sometimes be. Now I’m not saying that you need to have everything done the day it’s assigned- that would be a tough sell for anyone at the least busy of times. Just get something done. Get your readings finished and your quotes from research written down. Bust out that outline. Write a quick rough draft. Anything. Just don’t procrastinate on every step of the process, otherwise, you’ll have to count on nothing going wrong, or otherwise the leniency of your teacher.
3. If you have a smartphone, use it.
Like the title says – if you have a smartphone, it’s a great English homework strategy to utilize it. I wouldn’t recommend using it for any assignments that include the direct use of school software. That said, it’s perfect for writing an outline or a rough draft for your next paper, namely because you can do it anywhere. It’s the perfect writing technique no matter where you are: at work, on vacation, running errands, waiting online – pretty much anywhere you can scroll through Facebook feeds and Snapchat stories. I personally have an iPhone, which comes with a “Notes” app, allowing me to type my thoughts and rough drafts no matter where I am. As long as you have the same app or a similar one, said the app should have a share option, which will allow you to of course share on social media apps and with your phone contacts, and more importantly via email. From here simply email your work to yourself, and simply copy and paste it from this email on your computer into a Word document. Finalize and edit your work here and bada-bing-bada-boom! And what’s more, it’s super easy to switch between your writing and your internet research!
I recently learned about a great bit of software that’s perfect for anyone’s English homework. It’s called Grammarly, and all you have to do is download the software onto your computing device and it will give you the ability to check your grammar and writing structure in everything you do, just like a spell/grammar check on Word docs. Using this is the perfect English homework strategy, especially if you have to do some writing in the school software, such as during an online course discussion. Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Because it’s free.
4. Find your inner voice
This English homework strategy might sound a bit…. subjective, but hear me out. Writing is not some complex equation of words, nor should it be thought of as such. It should be thought of as basically the written manifestation of your thoughts. Think of yourself as your own narrator. When you need to do an in-depth academic research paper, maybe that’s a narrator for a documentary or perhaps you imagine you’re writing a textbook. When you’re writing something less formal, just write as you would speak in a group; not too formal, so dial it back on the big words and formal structure, but keep just enough so you seem like you have more credibility than some tactless blogger. Also, keep the big words as close to common knowledge as possible – you don’t want your reader running to the dictionary every two sentences for a discussion post or a personal essay.
5. Read the bejesus out of the entire prompt
As a freshman and sophomore writer, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I had professors write on my graded paper “READ THE ENTIRE PROMPT.” So yea, there’s an English homework strategy for ya. Read the prompt and the rubric, top to bottom, and highlight important info while you’re at it. As long as you follow the guidelines set by the prompt and the rubric to the letter, you don’t need to write like Scott Fitzgerald to get an A.
6. Fact check yourself before you fact wreck yourself
If you’re unsure about anything, FACT CHECK. Don’t wing it because you don’t know, and don’t bend half-assed truth to support your thesis. We have an entire world of information at our fingertips at all times. As such, there is no excuse for falsities, which will prove to be a detriment to your credibility in the professional world.
7. Your thesis
Anyone who’s ever had an English class knows the importance of the thesis, or topic statement, which is supposed to essentially be a summary of your conclusive idea. Here’s the thing about it though: you don’t have to come up with a thesis statement before you start your paper. Honestly, you don’t even need to come up with one before you finish it. You just have to come up with one before you turn your paper in. As far as English homework strategies are concerned this is a useful one: if you’re unsure about a thesis statement, it might be helpful if you wait until the end when you’ve gathered all your thoughts and research and you are better equipped to come up with a unifying and conclusive statement.
8. Thesaurus it up
Find yourself repeating one word over and over on your English homework until you sound like a broken record? Feel like you need to pizzazz up your speech a bit but you’re at a loss for snazzy synonyms? If so, or even if you need to downgrade some words to be less formal, using the thesaurus is an invaluable English homework strategy for slapping some decent vocabulary into your paper. Of course, you can use an actual physical thesaurus, or otherwise, you can quickly find synonyms and antonyms if you go to thesaurus.com, or otherwise, just google “your chosen word” and “thesaurus” to get a list synonyms and even related vocabulary. With this you can even give you synonyms for idioms and phrases (to an extent).
9. Conclusion is for summarizing and ending only
As far as English homework strategies go, this is one you’re probably going to learn in your class anyway, but I feel I need to add it to this list because it’s a mistake that a lot of people make regardless. On your English homework, your conclusion should only be a place of summarizing your thoughts and conclusive analysis. No matter what you do, don’t add any new information! The draw to be lazy and avoid making an entirely new paragraph for a small amount of information, I know all too well, but overcome the urge! Add onto that final snippet of information and make it into a whole new paragraph. Otherwise, just get rid of it. If you can’t make a paragraph out of your new bit of information, it probably wasn’t worth having to begin with.
10. Get one or two proof-readers
Final English homework strategy: it’s super-dee-duper important to get one or two extra sets of eyes looking over your paper. After writing for 6 or 8 straight hours, or even just looking over the same paper ten thousand times, the mind seems to refuse that any further flaws exist. Whether the mind is just stubborn about the flawlessness of your paper after so much work it’s just exhausted, you need fresh sets of eyes to help with revision before you turn in your work. If you have the time to spare, email a copy to your professor asking them to proofread for you and offer some feedback, or otherwise a fellow student, or really anyone with a basic comprehension of writing (which might be harder than you think outside of the ivory towers of academia).