Starting college is exciting for many reasons. It is a brand new world with new people and new ways to organize one’s life. But it is also about the new curriculum and academic requirements.
Academic writing doesn’t come easy to everyone. But there is nothing wrong with that. Like any other skill, it can be learned and perfected with practice. It is better to start early and be ready to upgrade your skills throughout college.
Here are the best tips on essay writing to keep in mind.
Before you begin the semester, it is better to get prepared. Gather the resources you might need:
- Academic databases with relevant articles and studies;
- Libraries, both online and offline available to you;
- Platforms that offer expert tips;
- Blog with examples of essays, etc.
It is great to learn from the experts, and lots of them offer advice online. For example, WritePaper is an academic writing platform that features excellent advice on its blog. The writers here also help students with writing, editing, proofreading, and formatting their papers. It is good to know that there is help out there. So, keep bookmarks on such resources so when you need them, they are easily accessible.
Analyze the Assignment
The first step to approaching the essay is to analyze the prompt given and understand what is required from you. If you do not get the question right, all the hard work goes to waste.
Start with questions like “what does the prompt ask you about?”. Define what the goal of this paper is. Also, think of what is required in terms of length and number of sources.
What kind of research does it require? How long will it take to conduct? Where can you find those sources?
Is there something the prompt is asking indirectly about? For example, whether you need to give your opinion on the matter.
Answering all those inquiries will help to create a roadmap for the future paper and the amount of work you need to do.
Depending on the type of essay, research might take more or less time. But it has to be done correctly. Even if it is an opinion piece, one needs to evaluate what are the facts and evidence. Defining supporting evidence will help to create a clear thesis statement.
And any opinion should also relate to proof.
The main rules of academic research are:
- Always look at both sides of the argument;
- Use peer-reviewed sources, like studies, scientific articles, or surveys;
- Use scientific search engines to save time – for example, Google Scholar shows only peer-reviewed results to any search;
- Keep track of everything you read in a separate file, so you do not lose it.
Also, think of what quotations you might include further. Save them right away with the link to the source or reference.
Craft Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a sentence (maximum two sentences) that summarizes the topic and your position on it. It is the argument you will be making in the essay.
This will guide your paper, and this is the point you are going to prove (persuasive statement). It can also be informative, depending on the type of paper you are working on. In any case, it needs to be very clear, strong, and coherent.
Draft an Outline
No matter how many new trends in education appear, something remains constant. And one of those constants is the structure of an essay.
A 5-paragraph essay consists of:
- Main body:
- Paragraph 1
- Paragraph 2
- Paragraph 3
Use this as a draft outline for college papers. When doing it, you can put the points you are going to address in each of them. It will guide one through the writing. It is easier to start when you know where.
Each paragraph of the main body should address only one argument. Do not mix them together. Start with one, cover it, and then go smoothly (with a transition sentence or phrase) to the second one.
Start with the Main Body
One of the many issues students have is the introduction. It is quite difficult to make a good one when you are not sure what you are going to write next.
The best way to beat that and the white page fear is to start with the main body. Here you can express all the ideas and dwell on the arguments. After that, you will come back to the introduction with a much clearer idea of how to make it strong.
Another tip to remember is not to edit when you are writing. Being overly critical might ruin the whole creative flow. Do one thing at a time. First, type all you have to say, and edit only after you are done.
Start Paragraphs Right
The beginning of a paragraph is essential for building a strong case. Always start it with a topic sentence.
It should express the main idea or argument you are going to address here. It also needs to have some contextual information or a quote relevant to the argument.
So, in a way, it is a mini-thesis statement for each paragraph. After that, you can go to the supporting evidence on it.
Make Strong Conclusion
The conclusion is not a simple summary of what has been said. It needs to address the subject and the thesis and restate your position. You can also refer to the arguments given and offer further research/discussion if relevant.
Proofread and Edit
Now that you are done with the hardest, it is time to perfect the text.
If there is such an opportunity, take some time off before getting to editing. It will clear the head and give a more objective perspective on the paper.
Start with checking grammar for spelling and mistakes. One can use one of the many grammar checkers online, like Grammarly. But it is still necessary to re-read it manually.
Also, check the paper for plagiarism. It can occur simply by not paying attention. Yet, it is a serious offense in academia.
When proofreading and editing, consider the following:
- The overall style and flow;
- Correct terms used;
- Logical argumentation;
- Answering the question of the prompt.
A good trick is to read it out loud to get an idea of how it flows and how a reader will see it. Or you can also ask one of your friends to proofread it.
Take Time with Formatting
Formatting might not be the most exciting part of it, but it is still very important.
Make sure you use the right format – APA, MLA, or Chicago. Check with the guidelines and make sure you made referencing right.
Also, pay attention to the margins, font, and layout.
There are a lot of things that go into crafting a winning essay. It requires strong research and analytical skills, as well as a decent amount of time. Make sure you have all the necessary resources ready and start early.
Pay attention to the prompt, evaluate the main subject, and define how you are going to address it. Go with these tips step by step, and do not forget to proofread everything just one more time before submitting.