How to Write College Term Papers
When students are new to college they often find it difficult to adjust to writing papers at college level. Typically, it takes a certain amount of mistakes before they are comfortable with the process. The preparation students get in the field of writing while at high school is often inadequate. The following tips are designed to help improve your college writing skills and grades.
- Before starting, make sure you know precisely what is required of you. Read all instructions thoroughly. If you have any questions, get clarification from your tutor. A lot of tutors and instructors have scheduled office time so avail of this to discuss any issues or ideas with them. Usually, failure to adhere to instructions has a negative impact on grades.
- Do your best to think of a topic that suits the assignment type. Students are prone to choosing topics that are not very original. So, distinguish yourself from your fellow students by picking something unique. Similarly, the topic you select should be of special interest to you or you may struggle with writing about it. If you find it difficult to choose a topic, do a little brainstorming to generate ideas or ask your instructor for suggestions.
- Draft an essay outline. Every writing project should begin with an outline, and a good essay is consistently and always highly organized. A detailed essay outline is unnecessary because your thoughts and ideas may well change when research work and writing begins. Once your outline is finished, ask your instructor to check it over.
- Assertions and claims should always be supported with irrefutable evidence. You can use the opinions of experts, facts, and empirical-style evidence to support claims. If, for instance, you claim that the planet is being warmed by carbon emissions, you should support this with expert opinion or scientific findings. Try not to use too many examples since it can be difficult to prove a point with isolated pieces of evidence. Describing a time you visited Chicago when the weather was especially hot is not adequate evidence to support an argument about global warming. It can, however, be a good example if you use evidence of a scientific nature to substantiate your point.
- A compelling introduction is essential. All successful essays have eye-catching introductory paragraphs. Think about including an interesting anecdote or an alarming statistic to get your audience’s attention. Write in a brief but creative way.
- Do everything possible to ensure the thesis statement you write is succinct and clear and that it offers a preview of the material that will be addressed in your paper. Your thesis must be clear, simple and effective if you are to earn the best grade for your essay. It is important that everything in your essay is connected to your thesis statement so do not include unrelated ideas. This central statement should set out your claim and any supporting evidence. The opening or topic sentence in each subsequent paragraph should follow the language of your thesis. Arguments should be presented in an order that is similar to the thesis.
- Make sure any sources and references you use are authoritative and reliable. Students are often reluctant to include citations and only do this because it is a requirement of their assignment. A good or poor grade can depend on the quality of sources. Choose sources from reliable books, journals and academic studies. Avoid any sources that are irrelevant or out-of-date and do not over-use any one source. Similarly, you should not list sources not used in your essay because this is dishonest. You should not be afraid to use more sources than the minimum number specified for an assignment.
- Eliminate any unnecessary padding or irrelevancies. If you do not, your tutor may deduct marks for ‘space-filling’ information. A common mistake among students is writing overly long introductory and concluding paragraphs packed with irrelevant information to meet the word or page count.
- Avoid plagiarism at all costs. This means using the work of other people without citing it, and it is a practice that is likely to get you a failed grade, disciplined or expelled.
- Seek help if you find essay writing a struggle. For example, ask your fellow students or tutors to help. Many colleges have help centers where tutors are on hand to answer questions during school hours.