Asya Ashour Contributor
Now that the midpoint of the semester is far behind, workload is increasing and due dates, although they may seem far, are just around the corner. With about 11 weeks behind us, there is only one month left until finals, and I can assure you it will pass by quicker than we anticipate. As a result, we have to stay on top of our studies, always be conscious of due dates, and plan how we will effectively tackle our course loads now so that cramming and all-nighters will not be our only option during finals week. This preparation will not only decrease stress, but also escalate the probability of receiving top grades.
Here are a few tips on how to successfully plan and prepare a course paper or essay in order to receive an “A”.
(1) Be sure you have and understand the topic of your paper. There are some professors that don’t assign topics, leaving it up to the students to decide what they would like to write about. I personally like to be the creator of my own topic because I will be able to choose something that I am in- terested in. However, if you’re the type of student that likes to be told what to do, talk to your professor and ask him or her for suggestions.
If the topic of the paper is given, you need to read it over and think about it as soon as possible. If you don’t completely understand the topic or don’t know how to approach it, talk to your professor.
(2) If the paper is about a book or story you have read, be sure you have read it completely. Yes, there are summaries online but they will never give you a full interpretation or comprehension of the material. Most importantly, professors do read these web- sites and so they will know which students did their work and which took the easy way.
(3) After you’ve accomplished step one, you need to give yourself time to research or think about it. Although it is great to get your paper finished early, it may be more beneficial to let the topic sink in and build it up over a few days
in your mind before writing it. I recommend developing your thesis and evidence internally and jotting them down, as well as other ideas, on a piece of paper as they come to you. Tazeen Khatoon, a senior Accounting major, recommends this as well. Khatoon says, “This is necessary so you don’t forget your ideas by the time you write the paper.” Khatoon’s philosophy professor had advised her to “jot down ideas as they come because when you sit down to write your paper, ideas won’t just flood your mind; you should have developed them previously.”
(4) Plan out or outline your paper before you start writing it. Preparation will save you time by giving you a roadmap to follow. You will have everything laid out in front of you and will as a result have a particular informative or argumentative path to follow, which will produce a phenomenally organized paper.
To do this, write the main points you developed in step three in the order you would like to discuss them on another piece of paper, and expand on them. Leave space between each point so you can write down your thoughts and any quotes you find useful. If this paper is for an English course, skim through the book or some of its chapters in order to find quotes to support your points. This is especially important if your paper is persuasive because you will need to show evidence in the story to reinforce the arguments you make.
(5) Write you introduction and conclusion. Your intro can be written either in the beginning (which I recommend) or at the end. Either way, be sure both the intro and conclusion state the main points you go over as well as provide a general picture for the reader. In addition, your conclusion should include any last thoughts and any concerns you may have.
Now it’s time to write your paper. You have everything laid out; all you have to do is expand on your ideas. What is most im- portant now is the actual writing. You need to have accurate spelling and grammar, as well as effectively present your points to your reader.
I recommend Dr. James Bednarz’s(an English professor) approach: provide a “prediction” in your introductory paragraph about the points you will be covering in your paper (this should come after the thesis statement). Tell the reader what you will be talking about in the body, and then when you start writing about each particular point, tell the reader which point it is at the beginning of the paragraph (use “first,” “second,” “next”). Don’t jump from point to point without telling your reader; rather, lead him or her in the di- rection you desire in order to prove your argument.
You are now ready to start preparing your “A” paper! If you are struggling or have any ques- tions, be sure to visit the Writing Center on the second floor of Humanities Hall.