Unformatted text preview: 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) Study System
a PART 1: Study Plan
Why Do A Plan?
Know Your Time
Know Your Workload
How Long Will It Take?
Do You Have Time?
PART 2: Study Habits
Your Study Routine
When To Study
Where To Study
PART 3: How To Study
How to Take Notes
How to Study a Textbook
How to Study For Exams
How To Write a Paper
Conclusion How to Write a College
1/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) a
Login Get Shovel It’s been a long time since I wrote an essay so I’ve delegated the
discussion of this topic to Dr. Genevieve Carlton. She’s had a lot of
experience writing and grading papers. We appreciate her advice
and you should too. How to Write a Great Paper, by
Genevieve Carlton Ph.D
A college paper is the standard assignment in humanities and
social sciences. You need to master writing essays if you want to
earn the best grades. But writing papers isn’t just about the grade.
It’s about honing your language and persuasion skills – the most
powerful tools you always have at your disposal. If you’re intimidated by the basic ve-page paper, you aren’t
alone. But college essays are not rocket science. Regardless of
whether you’re writing a paper for history, English, sociology,
psychology, or any other class, these simple methods will raise
your grade on any college paper.
2/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) Let’s jump in. Start Writing Your College Essay at Least
Two Weeks Before The Due Date
There are a lot of di erent approaches to writing an essay, but
they all share one thing: start early! Never put o writing an essay
until the last minute, you’ll make sloppy mistakes or risk late
that will destroy your grade. Instead, start at least two
weeks before the due date. Btw, Shovel makes this easy. Just set
that you want to get started 14 days before the essay is due.
Shovel will let you know if it’s enough time and will remind you
when to get started. a Why is it so important to start early? If you pull an all-nighter right
before the due date, it will show. You’ll end up with mediocre
argument, poor evidence, and a lack of polish… trust me,
professors can tell. And you’ll miss out on the opportunities to
gain feedback from your professor during your writing process.
There’s no secret formula to writing a perfect paper right before
the deadline. Writing a great paper takes time, so you need to
start early. Read, Read, and Re-Read the Essay
Some professors might not admit it, but here’s the truth: every
professor wants something slightly di erent from your paper.
Your English professor wants you to emphasize narrative styles,
while your art history professor cares about technique. Your
3/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) history professor wants quotes from the reading, while your
psychology professor expects you to summarize (and cite!) the
sources. One professor might knock o points for using in-line
citation, while another hates footnotes. Even professors in the
same department might want completely di erent essays.
So how are you supposed to gure out what your professor
wants? It’s easy: study the assignment and ask questions. Even
better, ask if your professor uses a grading rubric for essays.
know exactly what your professor wants to see.
a Studying the assignment is your key to getting an A on every
paper. Your professor tells you exactly what he or she is looking
for: will you be graded largely on your argument, your evidence,
or your grammar? Does the professor want a persuasive
argument or a descriptive argument? If the assignment doesn’t
say, ask! You can easily raise your grade from the middle of the
bell curve to top of the class just by making sure you’re writing
the paper your professor wants to see. You’ve Already Done Half the Work
Here’s the good news: if you’re on top of your course reading,
you’ve already done half the work the day your professor hands
out the paper topics.
Most essay assignments come directly from the reading: Create
an analysis of race in Huck Finn. Explain Machiavelli’s attitude on
power in The Prince. Compare and contrast two perspectives on
World War II.
You have a major advantage if you read the material closely. And
don’t just read: highlight the most important passages, write down
4/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) the key arguments, and take notes on the major points. If you do
that, you’ve literally done half the work for your paper.
So don’t cut corners when it comes to the assigned reading. In
fact, read with an essay question in mind––look for the quotes
that you’ll use to build your argument now, and it will be much
easier to build your evidence list later. a
Your Five-Paragraph Essay
Get Shovel Login College essays come in many shapes and sizes, from persuasive
to argumentative, and from narrative to analytical. But they often
follow a similar format: the standard ve-paragraph essay, drilled
into every high school student’s mind. And unless the assignment
requests something di erent, use the ve-paragraph essay as
your template for most college essays.
As a reminder, the ve-paragraph essay opens with your
introduction paragraph, which ends with your thesis statement, or
argument. The next three body paragraphs lay out your evidence.
The essay wraps up with a conclusion, where you reiterate your
That same format works for everything from a three-page
analytical essay to a fteen-page research paper. You’ll obviously
need more body paragraphs in a longer paper, and in any
argumentative paper you’ll want to address counter-arguments
or problems in your argument. But use the ve-paragraph
template to create an outline for your paper. Always Create an Outline for Structure
5/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) Professors can nearly always spot an essay written at the last
minute. And here’s why: they ramble; they don’t have a clear
structure; they wander from point to point without building to
anything. Needless to say, those papers don’t earn high grades.
You can avoid that pitfall by writing a strong outline before
drafting the essay.
An outline helps you arrange your ideas before you begin drafting
the paper. Start by re-reading the assignment and jotting down
the main topics your paper must address. And then think about
how to order them: which of the two readings should you discuss
rst? Where should you address counter-arguments? Should your
descriptive paragraph come right after your introduction, or can it
wait until page two? a
a Essentially, writing an outline forces you to think about how to
make your argument. It doesn’t need to be a polished document,
because it will evolve as you work on the paper. At this stage, your
outline might look more like a list of paragraph topics, with not
much else lled in. But having that framework helps ensure that
your essay stays focused on the topic. Start with your Evidence
Don’t start by writing your introduction. The introduction is the
absolutely most important part of any paper. Within that rst
paragraph, your professor is already deciding whether you’ve
submitted an A paper or not.
So leave the introduction until you’re able to write the most
focused, best paragraph that you’ve ever created.
6/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) Instead, start with your evidence. Read the essay prompt and
make a list of the crucial evidence.
Use your notes on the reading to pull out the strongest building
blocks for your case. Write down examples you want to pull from
lectures. Collect a list of the best quotes from the readings.
And look at your outline. Start lling in the examples you’ll use in
each paragraph. a
a Once you have an evidence list, it will be much easier to craft your
body paragraphs, the meat of your paper where you lay out your
argument. Now that you know your evidence, it’s time to hone
your argument. Login It’s All About The Argument
The argument, or thesis statement, is the most important
sentence in your paper. That one sentence lays out your answer to
the essay prompt and sets up your body paragraphs. So it has to
While you’re creating your evidence list, jot down a few potential
arguments. Don’t pick one just yet, though. Instead, try on a few
di erent arguments and see if you have the evidence to support
them. Stay open to changing your argument.
Your thesis statement will look di erent in an expository essay
versus an argumentative essay. But the general idea is the same:
your argument sums up your paper’s point of view. So make sure
And here’s one important rule for all types of papers: never, ever
have a thesis statement that just says “Yes” or “No.” Your
argument should always explain why. If the essay prompt gives
7/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) you a statement and asks you to agree or disagree, explain why.
If the prompt tells you to pick one side of a debate, explain why.
Just make sure you have the evidence to back it up. It’s Finally Time To Write a That’s right, there are seven steps before you get to actually write
the essay. That’s one reason you need to start early. a Login
start writing your paper, you should have a clear
roadmap for your argument and evidence. You should know what
the professor wants, and you should have an outline to answer
the essay prompt. You should feel con dent that you understand
the reading and that you’ve pulled out the major points.
Then––and only then––it’s time to start writing.
Start with your body paragraphs, incorporating the examples
from your outline and evidence list. Open each paragraph with a
topic sentence, which tells your reader what to expect from the
following paragraph. Add your citations as you go, whether as
footnotes or inline citations––it will save time to include them now
instead of going back to add them later. After writing a
paragraph, re-read it. Edit as you go to polish your ideas and
make sure you aren’t leaving out any evidence.
Once you have a draft of your body paragraphs, create the
conclusion. And then go back to write the introduction. Save your
professor grief by avoiding opening sentences like “Since the
dawn of time . . .” or “The Oxford English Dictionary de nes . . .”
The last thing you write should be your thesis statement.
You’ve nished a complete draft of your paper––congratulations!
But you’re not done yet. 8/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) Talk to Your Professor or TA
No one makes a better editor than the person grading your essay.
So you should always check whether your professor or TA will
review a draft of your paper before the due date. Ask if they have
a policy about reading drafts––or at least ask if they’ll read your
rst paragraph, which will make or break your grade. a
Be Get Shovelto send your professor or TA a full or partial draft at
least three or four days before the deadline. Even though some
professors have a policy against reading drafts, it never hurts to
ask. And it’s a guaranteed way to improve your paper, since you’ll
get feedback from the person assigning your grade. Revise, Revise, Revise Your Essay
The biggest mistake students make in papers is never revising––in
fact, most students don’t even proofread. Professors notice
sloppy mistakes like grammatical errors and typos, and it
automatically weakens your grade. It tells the professor you didn’t
take the assignment seriously enough to leave time for revisions.
Aim to have a full draft at least three days before the due date, so
you’ll have time to perfect your paper. What should you look for
when revising? Eliminate any typos, correct your grammar, and
delete any dumb mistakes, like sentences that simply end in the
middle of a thought (yes, I’ve seen that in multiple papers). That’s
the easy step.
Now re-read your introduction. Go back to your outline and
evidence list. Can you strengthen your argument, now that you’ve
compiled your evidence? Can you do a better job connecting the
9/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) evidence back to your argument? Look for weaknesses in your
paper. Are there holes in your argument? Are there obvious
counter-examples you need to address?
Imagine you’re the professor, red pen poised over the paper, and
ask yourself how to make your paper stronger. a Once you complete the revisions, submit the essay and take a
break. You’ve earned it. a Login Get Shovel Study Your Paper
You didn’t think you were done just because you turned in the
When it comes to college, analyzing your results is almost as
important as writing the paper in the rst place. Your graded
essay tells you everything you need to know to ace the next
paper for that professor. So study the comments––the line edits,
the marginal suggestions, and the scrawl on the nal page, right
above your grade.
Did you lose points because you didn’t follow the proper citation
style? Correct it next time. Was your argument unclear? Put an
extra hour into honing your argument on the second paper.
Whatever you missed this time, learn from it, so you don’t lose
more points on the next assignment. Ask About Rewrites
The last thing most college students want to do after submitting
an essay is to rewrite it. But you’d be surprised how many
10/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) students lose the opportunity to improve their grades, simply
because they don’t ask about rewrites.
So if you earned less than an A on your paper, it really can’t hurt
to ask the professor if you can rewrite using their feedback. Some
professors will automatically say no, but others will let you submit
a revised version for a higher grade.
When you’re rewriting the paper, don’t simply correct the typos
and submit again––professors might feel like you’re wasting their
time if you don’t listen to their comments. You might need to add
more sources or strengthen your argument. It might require
several hours of work. But if that means raising your grade on a
signi cant assignment, it’s time well spent. a
a Plagiarism Is Never The Easiest Option
Yes, writing an essay the right way is a time-intensive process. And
cutting corners is easier than ever, thanks to the internet. But
plagiarism––representing any work as your own when it’s not––is
never the right choice.
It might seem easier than writing your own paper, but it’s not. I
guarantee it. Here’s why: it’s easy to plagiarize. Google any topic
and you’ll nd a dozen or more essays. But the cost is too high.
Take it from a professor––plagiarism is shockingly easy to notice.
Essays that don’t answer the assignment, or that only cite books
not assigned in class. Papers with ve-syllable words in one
paragraph and typos in the next, or that switch voices halfway
through. Papers that include complicated ideas not mentioned in
class––or that leave out core concepts from lecture. These all set
o a professor’s plagiarism detector. And then there’s actual
11/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) plagiarism detection software. In short, there’s a good chance
you’ll get caught.
Most colleges have a no plagiarism policy. That means if your
professor nds out you plagiarized, you could get an automatic
zero on the assignment, or even in the class. You could get
suspended from school or even expelled.
It’s not worth it to game the system. Login a
a Get Shovel Time Management
Essays make up a big part of your grade in some classes––in most
of mine, for example, papers accounted for 30% or more of the
nal grade. That means you should spend a signi cant amount of
time on those papers.
What does that mean? You need to master time management for
It’s not always easy to gure out how much time you need to write
a paper. It’s di erent for every student, and sometimes di erent
for every paper. Some students can craft a perfect essay in just a
few hours, while others require double that time or more. Starting
early is one of the best ways to manage your time. That way the
deadline won’t sneak up on you.
Consider using a tool like the Shovel app to manage your time.
Shovel lets you schedule blocks of time in advance, so you’ll never
run out. You can budget time for research and outlining, writing
drafts, and revising the paper. And Shovel can also track your
time, so you’ll know how long it takes to write a paper. The next
time you tackle an essay, you’ll have an even better idea how
much time you need. And if you start tracking now, you’ll bene t 12/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) for your next four years of writing papers––because you’re going
to write a lot in college.
Depending on your major, you might nd yourself working on
multiple papers every week, especially near the end of the
semester. And as long as you schedule out the time in advance,
you’ll never get stuck rushing to nish an essay at the last minute.
If you study the assignment, plan out your essay before you start
writing, and always leave time for revisions, you can easily raise
your grade on any college paper. ← Previous Topic a
a Keep Learning → Since you’ve read this far, it’s obvious that
doing well in school is important to you. We
created an app speci cally for high-achieving
students and we know you’ll love it! Shovel
makes managing your time and workload way
easier than ever before. You will always know
how long something’s gonna take, how much
time you have available to get it done, and if
you have enough time to get it done. All in realtime! And it’s free! 13/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) a
Login Get Shovel Check Out S hov el App Organize your studies! Check Out S hovel 14/16 5/7/2020 How to Write a College Paper (Get an A+ on Your Essay) How to Study Introduction Study Tips Shovel App Where To Study Why Do A Study Plan? How To Study Know Your Time Study Methods Know Your Workload How To Take Notes How Long Will it Take? How To Study a Textbook Do You Have Time?
Your Study Routine a
a How To Study For Exams
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