How to Write an A+ College Paper
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When I entered college last year, I was prepared to write killer 5 paragraph essay’s for my English class. My high school teacher’s had assigned countless essay and I had a knack for writing them. There would be an introduction, three paragraphs to support my thesis, and a conclusion. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
And then, I got my English class syllabus. (*cue dramatic music*)
All of my essays were required to be at least 8 pages and then my final essay had to be 20!! How was I supposed to stretch 5 paragraphs into 20 pages!? It was time to take a step back and reevaluate how I was going to write a college paper.
Throughout the year I tweaked and altered how I wrote my essays to ensure that they met the page length requirement and were interesting to read. I’m still learning how to write the ultimate college paper, but I thought I would share with you what I have learned so far.
1.The first step is to pick a topic. Last year, I rarely had a teacher assign a prompt to answer in the essay. Even though this sounds simple, it can be quite a daunting task to pick something that you want to write about and have enough information available to write a complete paper. I would create a brain map with the general topic of the class in the center of my map, and then list problems that I could discuss and different angles to look at each problem from. This will give you lots of different ideas to work with and you can create your thesis question from there.
2. The next step is to schedule the time to do research, write, and edit the paper before its due date. This schedule will vary from person to person based on how long your professor has allotted to write the paper. Create a schedule as soon as you are given the assignment so you’re not stuck writing the paper the night before.
3. You’ll most likely have to conduct research before you write the paper. Take advantage of your school library and its online collection of articles and peer-reviewed journals. I recommend finding more sources then you’ll think you need just in case you run low on information and valuable quotes. And once you have all your sources, sit down in a quiet room and actually read them. Don’t just skim them and hope something fascinating stands out. Take the time to read and digest the information that is in front of you. Take notes, write down page numbers where you can find quotes and then, in your own words, write a short summary of each source. Even if this feels like a drag in the moment, taking the time to do thorough research will only benefit you when it’s time to write the paper.
NY Public Library
I took this photo while I was in New York this summer. Doesn't this image just make you want to go to the library and conduct revolutionary research!
4. The last step before you go to write the paper is to create an outline with the questions you want to discuss. Your paper should always start with broad information and get more specific with each new idea. Outlines will help you out a lot when you’re in the library late at night and suddenly have a brain fart mid sentence. You’ll have the outline to refer back to prevent that.
5. And finally, the most important step to getting an A+ paper is to actually write the essay. You’ve done all the hard work with collecting research and planning your outline, so now it’s time to let your voice and opinions shine through. Remember to cite everything that is not your own ideas to avoid plagiarism. And even if you’re not passionate about your essay topic, write as if it is the most important topic in your world. Include quotes, but don’t overuse them for the sole purpose of making your essay longer. Make sure they flow with the point you are making in that paragraph. My last tip for the writing portion of your essay is to write with a clear and concise voice. Write as if the reader knows nothing about the topic you are covering (even if your professor has a Ph.D in that field).
6. Before you turn your paper in, please edit it a couple of times. Read it out loud to ensure that every sentence makes sense. If you’re not writing the paper three hours before it’s due, I recommend stepping away from the computer for a while and return to it with a clear mindset. My favorite website to edit anything that I write (including this article) is Grammarly. Grammarly is the world's leading automated proofreader, and it's essential if you want to have a paper that is free of any grammatical errors. It fixes over 400 different types of errors! That's way more than spell check on Microsoft Word! My favorite part about it is the fact that you can install it into your internet browser so it'll edit any of your Google Doc's or emails that you write to your professors. I highly encourage that you check them out here! It's free to sign up, and there is a premium version available as well that I recommend if you want an essay that is grammatically perfect!
If you follow these steps you’re bound to get a perfect score on your next paper! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I respond ASAP!
~A College Girl