As everyone comes to the end of their semester some of us are facing a variety of finals to test our knowledge from the semester, whether it be a test, paper, or final project. To me papers are the hardest part of college not just because they’re frustrating to write, but also because every professor grades differently. Today I am providing my tips on how I have mastered writing my papers, as well as adaptations for each set of rubric requirements.
Depending on the extent of the paper you will determine how long you need to complete the paper. As soon as I get assigned a paper I pull out the rubric and make a few notes when they discuss it either on syllabus day or during lecture. While I may not start the paper that day I also put down my first idea for the paper topic before I forget it. I usually give myself a week for each paper and about 2-3 weeks for a research paper (depending on the extent of research needed).
Everything I do involves an outline, but for papers they are crucial. As you collect information from the book, lecture, or the internet I add it to my main points on the outline as I work. This helps immensely when you go to form these facts and ideas into actual paragraphs for the paper. Personally, I keep my outline as questions with bullets or main points with short sentences to get the most information into the outline without actually writing too much.
If there isn’t an opportunity to ask questions about the paper in class or if you have extra ones I always take advantage of office hours with my professor or teaching assistant. Usually my outline makes its way to these appointments for review and to ensure I am understanding the paper prompt correctly. This is extremely beneficial after reading through their specific rubric and making sure you are meeting their grading requirements and main points when writing.
Sitting down to actually write the paper can be hard, but your outline has done most of the work for you. The major point now is just turning it into eloquent sentences based on your bullet points. If you are trying to reach a page limit do not opt for inserting extra fluff. Look back at your outline and see if there were points you left out when writing or further elaboration of an aspect that could be provided to the reader for better understanding. I often wind up adding more to my introduction later based on everything I wound up writing.
I always have my boyfriend or a friend read my paper before I turn it in. Every time they find a typo or a grammatical error that I was self correcting as I read. It can also be helpful when writing persuasive papers to see if it actually persuades them or a research paper to see if they learned more.
After all of those steps I make my final edits and check with the syllabus to ensure all of the formatting is correct (cover page, font style, page numbers). Finally I submit it on our university’s online education platform or print and staple it for class. *When printing from a google doc the formatting can change so be sure to check your printed out version before submitting.
What are your tips for writing a paper?