Writing college papers is something unavoidable for any student. Whether it’s an essay, analysis, or research paper, every student encounters one of these assignments at various points along their student lives. While the thought of these papers may seem scary and daunting, these tips are here to help you write a grade A paper for any class.
1. Pick a Meaningful Topic
While professors assign topics based on the subject matter being taught in class, students are often given the flexibility to write on their unique perspective on the issues and themes. When the opportunity arises, it is important that you choose a topic that has meaning to you. Writing an essay is far easier when you have the motivation to work on it because you genuinely believe in and enjoy what you are writing about.
Some topics may be more complicated and difficult than others and depending on how broad or specific the topic is, you may have trouble with gathering material or focusing in on what to write. A good idea is to make a list of several topics that interest you and discuss them with your professor to see which would be most suitable for your assignment.
2. Start Early
Writing can take time, and you will never be able to get through to the final product without starting it first. Create an outline within the first few days of deciding your topic, list down ideas for an introduction and thesis, as well as the main arguments or components that will make up the body paragraphs of your essay.
The outline does not have to be extremely detailed, but it should be able to be used as an early version for ideas to help you get started on the assignment. This will also help you align your thoughts and begin narrowing down what exactly it is that you wish to include in your paper.
3. Do Not Force Words
If you’re writing a paper for college, it’s not a secret that you want it to sound like an academic paper as well. Don’t force yourself to use words you don’t understand. Nothing can kill a college paper more than a forcefully inserted four-syllable word that is used incorrectly in a sentence. Not only will it look out of place, but it can confuse your reader or give the impression that the writer does not know what they are talking about.
If you wish to add more of a variety to your vocabulary, a thesaurus is a great way to upgrade your words without reaching too far into uncharted territory. There are plenty of online thesauruses you can use, and some software also have one built-in for use.
4. All First Drafts Suck
First drafts suck. No one writes a good first draft, and if they do then they clearly are superhuman. First drafts are the base from which you build from and they serve as the stepping- stones to your destination. While professors will usually ask you to turn in the first draft, and some may even grade it, remember that your first draft is not your final product.
Don’t feel pressure to keep every argument or topic you had in your first draft in your final paper. If you realize something wasn’t fitting, or you have veered off your thesis sentence, or that you have developed a stronger argument, then don’t be afraid to change it. Test running your ideas on your first draft allows you to see where you can improve from there.
5. Word Vomit
Your professor assigned you a 5,000-word essay, and all you can do is stare at a blank screen, unsure of how to start formulating a coherent well thought out introduction, much less continue to write 4,000 more words. Put it all out there. Nothing is going to get done if you don’t start writing, and word vomiting is a perfect way to get you started.
When you word vomit, you write whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be any life-altering excerpts or buffed and polished paragraphs. Simply write what you think of, let your creative juices flow and once you have done that then you can begin refining the details from there.
6. Spell Check is Not Perfect
While Spell Check is a great way to help with simpler spelling or grammar errors, don’t rely on it to catch everything. Spell Check is still software and can only assist you so much with your writing, so don’t put all your faith and reliance on it. Do not forgo the traditional editing process in favor of letting your computer catch all your errors.
There are certain popular free-to-use and paid grammar editors such as Grammarly or Reverso, but it’s always smart to look over your work or have someone else scan it for anything that may have been missed.
7. Always Go Back to Your Thesis
Your thesis statement is what your entire paper will be built around, it’s the main idea, the argument, and purpose that drives your entire essay. No college paper will ever be complete without a thesis statement.
If you ever feel lost or confused with what to do next for your paper, then look at your thesis statement to redirect and guide your writing towards your position since your entire essay is your proof to support your thesis. Make sure you always remember what it was you were writing about in the first place. Remain focused.
8. Get a Fresh Set of Eyes
While you can edit your paper for errors in spelling and grammar and confusing sentences with relative ease, it is extremely helpful to have someone else edit your work. A peer with a fresh set of eyes is valuable to the editing process. You have been working on this essay, reading, re-reading, editing and re-editing and it is easy to overlook mistakes when you have living and breathing your work. A fresh pair of eyes can easily spot silly and simple mistakes even after you have done your own editing.
Having someone edit your essay is an important step in providing you with a new perspective and challenge gaps in your content and writing so you ultimately have a strong paper for final submission. Proofreading and editing is the best way to improve your writing and editing skills.
9. Go to Your Writing Center
The purpose of a writing center on your campus is to help you learn. They are there to give you guidance and assistance with your writing projects whether it is an essay, research paper or reports. Writing is integral to all your course work and the writing center has your best interest in mind, so it is advisable to visit it often.
The tutors at the writing center can help you improve your writing by assisting you with the process of writing which may include development, organizing, revising, or strengthening content. They will not rewrite your paper for you. They are there to guide and help you strengthen your writing skills.