- Books, Literature, and Writing
10 Tips To Writing An A+ Essay
Writing an essay is one of the tasks many students dread the most. As an English major, I definitely did my fair share of writing. By the end of my college experience, I actually began to enjoy (gasp!) being assigned a paper. I always thought of it as an easy way to get a good grade. Follow these steps, and you can be sure your essay writing will be a breeze too!
** These tips are based on writing a 5 paragraph essay, but can be easily modified for any style of writing. **
- Choose A Topic/Hypothesis: Your topic/hypothesis is the main point of your paper. It is the statement you are trying to prove/arguing for. (Example: Buying a home is a better financial deal than building a home.) Choosing a topic/hypothesis may seem like the most logical place to start, but I know many people who get hung up by trying to write an essay around a quote, or decide to just start writing and see what transpires. The easiest road to writing a great paper will always be to have your topic chosen first!
- Brainstorm Ideas: After you choose your topic, get a blank sheet of paper to brainstorm statements that will support your hypothesis. (Example: You can move in to an existing home sooner than a home you built, thus saving on costs of renting/storage you would need while you build. An existing home will often time include window treatments and appliances, whereas building will traditionally not. Building costs will stay constant, however, you can often negotiate a price for a home you buy from someone else.)
- Do Your Research: Once you have your brainstormed list of topic sentences, it's time to hit the books and do some research. Think of each topic sentence as a mini-hypothesis, and you are digging for evidence to support it. Jot down notes, highlight, and bookmark as you research, so you will remember all the great information you are finding.
- Choose Three Main Ideas: Once you have your research done, it is time to chose three of the best points. These three ideas will serve as the topic sentences for the 3 main paragraphs in your essay. If you do the steps in the order I have provided (i.e. doing your research first), it should be easy to chose the three best ideas, as you will already know which ones have the most data to back them up.
- Create An Outline: Now, it is time to create your outline. An outline is a step that many people like to skip, however, not doing one can mean the difference between an excellent and sub-standard paper. Doing an outline also saves time. If you just start typing, and have to pause to dig through your research piles, you may lose your train of thought. If you have your outline, your actual "writing" will go much faster, and thoughts will flow much better.
- Integrate Quotes (As You Write The Middle 3 Sections): Many essays require a certain number of quotes. Even if they don't, it is always nice to add a few in for credibility. I typically do this as I am writing the "meat" (or middle section) of the paper . Don't forget to check what style writing your paper is supposed to be (i.e. MLA or APA, etc..) so that you are quoting correctly.
- Write Introduction and Conclusion: After the main part of your paper is done, it should be easy to write your introduction and conclusion. Many make the mistake of trying to start with these sections, but seeing as how they are supposed to be an overview and wrap-up of your essay, it makes much more sense to do them after your writing is complete. Make sure you preview your 3 topic sentences in your introduction (it will give readers a nice sneak peek and make the paper flow). The conclusion should be a short summary of what was talked about above it.
- Cite Your Sources: Don't forget a reference page to give credit where credit is due! Again, check with the style of the paper to make sure you are citing true to format.
- Proofread: While this seems logical also, there are many people who DO NOT proof read their papers. I also suggest reading your paper out loud as a step in proofing. While spellcheck is handy, it will not do you any good if your errors are grammatical. Often times, what looks good on paper, can sound funny when read aloud. Trust me, reading your essay out loud is the easiest way to find your mistakes.
- Proof Read AGAIN: After my first proof read, I typically let my writing sit for a while (minimum of an hour) and then go back for a second round of proofing. You are likely to catch many more mistakes this way. It is also not a bad idea to ask another person to proof for you at this stage, as more/different eyes can often catch even more errors or offer other valuable feedback.
Writing is difficult for many, but with these 10 steps, you will be well on your way to A+ essays in no time. Happy writing!!