If you have trouble with college papers, you aren’t alone—even the brightest students sometimes find themselves struggling to meet deadlines or write the way their professors want them to. Fortunately, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help you do better in college no matter what your subject area or study style. Here are seven steps to help you write better college papers and give yourself the best chance of acing your next paper or presentation!
Step 1: Gather information
Gather as much information about the topic as you can. The more you know, the better your writing will be. Even if it is not directly related to the topic, research can help you find new ideas. Ask friends and family members who are knowledgeable about the subject or do an internet search. Try to read a variety of sources so that you get a well-rounded view of the topic. You may also want to do some background research on the author of any source you plan on quoting in order to understand his or her point of view.
Step 2: Outline your topic
Outline your topic, such as women in the workplace. Consider what you know about this topic, the points that you want to include, and the order in which you want them presented. Note whether or not you plan on including sources for your information. If so, try using a word processing program like Microsoft Word. Once you have an outline of your paper, use it as a guide for writing your essay. For example, if you are trying to prove your thesis statement with three different points of evidence, write each point as its own paragraph. Each paragraph should begin with a clear introduction sentence followed by three-five sentences explaining why this is evidence supporting your point.
Step 3: Craft your thesis
Craft your thesis. Your thesis is the most important part of your paper and can make or break a good grade. It should be directly related to your paper and its purpose. There are many different types of papers, so it is important to choose the right type of thesis that best suits your needs.
Step 4: Start writing!
Start writing your paper with an outline. Even if you’re not working from a set outline, it’s still important to have an idea of what you want the body of your paper to include. Be as detailed as possible in your outline so that when you get down to writing the actual paper, you know what points need emphasis and which ones don’t. A great way to create a college-level outline is to make two columns on the top of your page: one for general topics or ideas, and one for specific subtopics under each main topic.
Step 5: Revise
Revise, revise, revise. The most important step in the writing process is revising. After you’ve written your paper, go back and check for plagiarism, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, punctuation mistakes, and typos. Also look for sections that are vague or need clarification or elaboration. Then re-read the paper out loud or have someone else read it to you so that you can hear where you may be using confusing language or terminology that might not be clear to a reader unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Step 6: Edit it again
Edit it one more time. You may need to read it out loud or show it to someone else for a fresh perspective. If you have any doubts about the quality of your work, then ask a trusted friend or professor for their opinion before turning in the paper. They will be able to help point out grammar mistakes and areas that are not fully explored. One tip to be a good paper writer is to be sure to proofread your final draft for errors just one last time before submitting the paper so that your hard work does not go unnoticed.
Step 7: Proofread
Proofread your paper for errors before turning it in. Read your paper from the beginning to the end, and make sure that all of the sentences flow together nicely. If there are any issues, fix them before turning in your paper. After you have finished proofreading, read your paper aloud and listen for awkward sounding phrases or places where you had to pause because the sentence doesn’t make sense.