Top 10 Essay Writing Tips

Top 10 Essay Writing Tips
Writing papers is perhaps the hardest and most important thing you have to do in college. Writing is hard because it requires work, understanding and thinking. It requires research, clear language and discipline. Essays often weigh heavily in grades and sometimes are required to get into schools or programs. Writing ability is critical to success in school and your future career.
Start early and budget your time. You've heard this a million times, but it can be too easy to let time slip away when you must juggle class assignments, work and party time. But starting early can mean simply thinking through and budgeting your time. If there is reading and research involved, then the sooner the better. Starting early will also help you deal with unforeseen problems like difficulty obtaining the required research materials or coming down with the flu just before the paper is due. Starting early helps not only to get through the work, but also to let the ideas steep into your brain.
Clearly understanding the assignment. If the paper topic is assigned, it is important to clearly understand the assignment. Analyze the topic word by word to understand the requirements and scope of work. You might want to underline key words in the assignment and think about how they relate to the reading and/or lectures. Figure out whether you must interpret or simply state the facts. If in doubt, ask other students or the professor for clarification.
Organize your research materials and your thoughts. Not only do you have to read the materials but also you have to clearly organize the information that you are using from other sources. Start by highlighting key points and making notes of these points. As you gather these materials your thoughts should solidify. Think about how you would string this information together in a cohesive flow. Allow yourself to refine or change your approach as you amass the materials. At this point you can further organize your thoughts into an outline format. Even if your paper does not involve research you still should take time to organize your thoughts on paper.
Learn by Example. If you are confused about writing essays or how to approach the subject matter look for examples. Read other essays to help you understand how to organize and present the information. Look at how the author introduces the topic, develops the idea and provides a clear conclusion. Is there a logical approach to the paper? Does it flow like a conversation or a good lecture? How does the writer make the topic interesting? Is the language and style consistent or does seem to jump around? Later when you are reviewing your work, ask the same questions. Compare the effectiveness of your approach. You may want to look at papers with similar subject matter to be sure you are writing to standards of that particular field.

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