This blog post is meant to help you succeed in your college classes by sharing 25 essay writing tips to use as a college student. Grab your syllabus and laptop charger, it’s time to get writing!
College is different than high school in a lot of ways. The biggest difference I’ve seen, as a current college sophomore, is how college assigns “homework” and “tests.” In high school, it seemed that I completed a ton of pointless worksheets and projects. But in college, I’ve found that most of my assignments are centered around writing papers/an essay.
Writing papers isn’t just something used for homework, though. I’ve had classes that replace midterms or final exams with writing a paper. There are tons of different types of papers: response papers, reflection papers, research papers….the list goes on. Let’s get on with some helpful essay writing tips to get you an A on your next paper!
25 Essay Writing Tips
Preparing to Write
I totally recommend taking some time to plan out your essay and outline it rather than just dive in. Doing this allows you to feel less overwhelmed by the entirety of the prompt and task at hand. We all know how daunting it can be to stare at a blank Word document for hours 😉
1. If at all possible, do not start writing your essay the night before it’s due. Your writing should be a process, and adding extra stress (like an approaching deadline) won’t help you.
2. Turn off all distractions when first approaching your essay. This means your phone + Netflix!
3. Seek out a writing center or writing lab on your campus. Many colleges provide this service to students without them even knowing about it!
4.Always make sure you completely understand the instructions/prompt. If you are unclear about anything, ask your professor/instructor in person or shoot them an email. Better safe than sorry!
5. Keep a copy of the prompt or essay instructions close by you at all times when writing your paper.
6. Refer back to the prompt when coming up with ideas for your paper, and ask yourself, “Is this information valuable and necessary to add?”
7. Outline your essay before you start writing it with bullet points. What must you include in your essay to cover the entire prompt?
Writing the First Draft
The work you put in during writing your first essay draft is what’s going to really count. Don’t get discouraged! You can do it 🙂
8. Make your introduction straight to the point. Adding unnecessary “fluff” (in most instances) distracts the reader from the purpose of the piece.
9. Your thesis statement should come in the first paragraph of the essay, and be as distinctive as possible. This signals to the reader what your main point, or argument, is.
10. Follow a consistent citation method if writing a research paper. Ask your professor if they prefer you to use a certain style.
11. Never copy a quote from an outside source without a citation! This puts you at risk of plagiarism and looks very unprofessional.
12. If you are going to be citing several sources, bookmark the website page so that you can easily find it when it comes time to write a bibliography. This will save time so you don’t have to search the Internet for your source all over again.
13. Develop your body paragraphs so that they constantly point back to your thesis and support your argument.
14. Conclude your essay by quickly reviewing what you aimed to accomplish in your essay by referring back to your thesis (introductory paragraph.)
Editing Your Work
Editing essays is something that is easily overlooked. Don’t be that person! You may have just written the best essay ever known to man, but if there are tons of grammar errors and spelling mistakes…it really doesn’t matter.
15. Have someone outside of your class/course read your essay. See if the topic makes sense to them after reading your essay. What can you further explain or define?
16. Read your essay aloud to yourself. Hearing the words you wrote will help you catch any grammatical errors or sentences that don’t make sense.
17.Attend your professor’s office hours and ask them to do a read-over of your work so far. This is sometimes not permitted (if it’s an exam or final), but a lot of the time, they will give you valuable advice. They are the ones that will be grading it, after all!
18. Vary your sentence structure.
19. Check and make sure that you are not switching in-between tenses in your writing. This can be confusing and cloud the essay.
20. Use Grammarly when editing your essay. This free application installs in your computer’s toolbar and will underline any mistakes, confused words, grammatical errors, etc. It’s truly a lifesaver!
21. Use Easybib.com to quickly and correctly cite your sources. Export your citations and make sure they are listed in your bibliography in alphabetical order!
Finalizing + Submitting Your Essay
Once you’ve gotten to this step, most of the hard legwork of writing an essay is done. Whew! Finalizing your essay will allow you to double (and triple) check that you don’t have any unnecessary typos/mistakes. The difference between a student who gets an A- and one that gets an A+ is all determined in this final stage!
22. Add a cover page to your essay if necessary. (Ask your professor their preference.)
23.Double-check that you have added page numbers.
24. Add an original title to your essay. (Again, ask professor first.)
25. Submit your essay on time to avoid point deductions.
After all of that, give yourself a pat on the back! Writing a college essay is not easy, but it gets easier and more rhythmic with practice and diligence. What are your best essay writing tips?
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