Real study strategies from real students — tips for success with college writing assignments. If there is time you can inquire with your teacher and other students. If you are writing at the last minute in a panic, an outline helps to guide your thinking and keeps your paper from going off on pointless tangents, especially if you are researching and writing as you go. Always take a break and plan on getting up early in the morning to proofread your essay. These are my favorites! I think brainstorming is the key to starting off a good written assignment. I think you have to lay your ideas down before you can make sense of what you are going to write. I also think that grammar is so important, and you have to make sure that you at least sound intelligent through what you write. I hate papers, and will put them off as long as possible. A horrible idea. Start as early as possible, even if it’s just a few ideas you’ve thought of.

Having something to work off of when you do sit down to write the paper will make it that much easier, plus you’ve already got a start. Always reread it, at least once. When in doubt, talk with the professor. If I’m really struggling with something I’ll talk with the professor to see if I’m on the right track. Usually the professors will ask you questions to get you thinking and head you in the right direction. Start early and make sure that you have it proofread. Start as soon as possible on them, at least with the research and don’t leave it for last minute because it probably won’t turn out great. Take the paper/written assignment piece by piece and set realistic goals for when parts of the assignment should be done. Don’t rely simply on spell check! It doesn’t always catch mistakes like if something is still a word, but not the word you intended or in the order you meant it to be in.

Also, if you can have someone else that isn’t in your class read it. They can help on grammar mistakes and if they understand it, then you made your point clear and it’s probably a good paper. When writing a paper or project its important to double and triple read over your paper. Re-readers will catch most if not all of their mistakes, thus yielding a better and more sound paper. My best advice for handling written assignments is to plan. That may sound like simple advice but that is the way I got through my written assignments successfully. A lot of times students have a choice of the topic they are going to be writing on. Take time to come up with a topic you really want to learn more about or think would be interesting. Don’t just pick a topic for the sake of meeting the due date.

My other piece of advice when it comes to writing papers is to write an outline first. It was usually harder for me to sit down and start writing without knowing where my paper was going. My outline was a roadmap and I could anticipate the end of the paper. It helps you to stay on track and not leave anything out. Give yourself time to do several drafts, so don’t procrastinate! Re-read your multiple times. You can almost always find a way to improve the paper. Have at least 1 or 2 people read your paper before you are done. It is good to hear other people’s opinion because teacher’s will have a different opinion from your own. Always have someone else edit your paper, it’s not enough to edit it yourself because you won’t be able to catch all the mistakes. Everyone has their own writing styles. I generally come up with an idea and do massive amounts of research before I ever think about writing. I then organize my research then sometimes prepare an outline before actually writing. I always print out the paper and come back to it the next day and reread it.

That is the easiest way for me to catch my own mistakes. I have to give my eyes a break from it, and if I just wrote it I think it looks perfect. But if I look at it a day later I almost always find grammatical errors or phrases and sentences I just want to reword. Always, always try to do it ahead of time! I can’t tell you I do that every time, but I’ve never been completely happy with finished products that are completed the night before/the day the assignment is due. There’s no way to really fit everything you want to say in unless you prepare. What helps for me is usually making lists of things I want to include in each paragraph. I do research on each of those main points, and eliminate or add to the lists based on my findings. Then, I take my main paragraphs and write them out. By writing out the main paragraphs, I have a good idea of what the main point of my paper’s going to be (for the introduction paragraph) and what conclusions I want to make at the very end.

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