By: Alexis Walters | May 1 2019
Are you the type of person that prefers final exams and dreads term papers? Don’t fret – this former English major will share some tips to help you ace your next essay.
- Focus on finding supporting evidence – whether it’s a research paper or a book review, the quotations you choose to cite can make or break your entire paper. You don’t need a thesis to start hunting for supporting quotes. Personally, I like to find a few strong quotations that relate to each other, and then build my thesis and paper around them. Find quotations that spark your curiosity, challenge you, or even enrage you. If you’re able to convey passion in your writing, it can not only fuel your fire, but make your writing stronger and more authentic.
- When you’re ready to write your own words, start with the introduction - it sounds obvious, but the process of writing an introduction can help you focus and establish the right tone for your paper. Of course, writing your thesis early on is integral to ensure your supporting paragraphs are strong and are truly supportive. Even if you’re unsure of how to phrase the rest of your introduction, write your thesis first and let it guide you through the entire paper.
- The thesaurus is your best friend – essays have the tendency to get very repetitive in driving your point home, so make sure you aren’t repeating words or phrases. Using the same descriptive words repeatedly can make your writing sound weak. If you can’t think of another word or phrase to use, there are tons of thesaurus options online and within most word processing applications.
- Start with a bang, end with a punch – while your body paragraphs carry most of the weight of your paper, don’t overlook the power of strong opening and closing sentences. The first sentence of an essay is often called a hook, but I think it’s more like the bait on the hook. Your bait must be appetizing enough for them to take a big enough bite for the hook to snag. In this analogy, the supporting paragraphs are the line and the conclusion is the sinker. The last sentence must leave a lingering impression on the reader for the entire paper to be potent enough to receive an “A.”
- Please, please, please proofread and edit – once you’ve finished your paper, you may be so exhausted that you can’t imagine spending another second on it. Unfortunately, good writing requires revision(s). If you’ve given yourself enough time, take a break from the paper, and edit it with a refreshed perspective in the morning. After your first revision, take a break and review it again, or have a friend look over it. My best tip is to read the paper aloud. It might sound silly, but doing it will help you easily identify grammatical, spelling, and sentence structure issues.