“Essay”. Perhaps the most despised word in a student’s vocabulary. While most of us can agree that essays are not our favourite assignment, they are a necessary evil. *sigh*
As deadlines for those end of term essays are looming, this is the perfect opportunity to share a few simple ways to improve our papers, and therefore our grades!
Let’s get started, shall we?
Think about it, if your paper is formatted incorrectly, your professor is taking marks off before he/she has even begun to read. For the style guide recommended by most professors, check out the Purdue Online Writing Lab. If you have questions take the time to visit Academic Advising, or your professors for clarification. If all else fails, remember these simple formatting rules: 12-point font, double space, page numbers, and 1-inch margins.
Pro Tip: 2.54 cm is the magic number. Create a default, custom setting of 2.54 cm all around for 1-inch margins. Your welcome.
2. Drop the Street Lingo
U may b a kewl cat, but if u tlk lik dis in ur essays u gonna fail. I beg you, drop the short forms, colloquialisms, and contractions – in no way are they acceptable in academic prose. In all honesty, your professor will be thoroughly unimpressed with your paper if you write like that, no matter how great the content is.
Pro Tip: Remember, how you say it is equally as important as what you say!
3. Quotations Are to Support – Not Supplement
In most essays, you will be required to use secondary sources to enhance your argument. Here is the rule for quoting: Summarize or paraphrase the author’s argument, unless the original text says it more concisely and eloquently than you can.
Pro Tip: Don’t use quotes because you are too lazy to write yourself. A paper mache, cut n’ paste essay will not fool anyone.
4. Spelin n’ Grammr
This one is self- explanatory: the more errors you have, the more marks you lose. You will need to revise your paper many times in order to ensure it is virtually free of errors.
Pro Tip: Print your paper out read it aloud. You will be surprised at how many mistakes you find this way.
5. Be Clear and Concise
The key to a great argument is clarity. A concise paper oozes confidence; it proves you know exactly what you are talking about. A wordy, vague essay is a red flag to professors, indicating you aren’t sure of yourself.
Bonus Tip: Avoid the “since the dawn of time…” opening. In high school, my teachers told me this is how to start a paper. It’s not…Grand introductions are one of the best ways to make your professors’ eyes roll. Get right to the point in your first sentence. Don’t dance around the topic, especially in a 4-5 page essay. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So there we have it friends — 5 simple ways to improve our papers. Now all that’s left is to get writing. See you on the other side!