Essays. Some people prefer them over tests, and some people hear the word and feel a sudden sense of panic. Writing a college essay can seem like a daunting task, but it’s really not as bad as it seems. If you are organized, thorough, and manage your time well, you should be good to go. Here are 9 helpful tips on writing an essay to help you efficiently do your best work.
1. Read the Book
As tempting as it is to just read a summary on Shmoop or SparkNotes, reading the book is always worth it in the end. It’s a lot harder to form a thesis around a list of bullet points than it is a novel. More times than not, your professor can tell who read the book and who didn’t.
2. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Make sure you give yourself enough time to write your paper. If you’re anything like me, you work well under pressure. Even if that’s the case, it is still helpful to have everything you need more than an hour before it’s due. Plan ahead so that, when the time comes to finish your paper, you’ll be able to focus on actual writing.
3. Essay Prep
Essay prep is always a good idea. Whether it be creating an outline or brainstorming different topics with a friend, you should find out what works best for you. Everyone thinks and prepares differently, so don’t be afraid to try a few different methods. It will make your writing process go much smoother.
4. Write Multiple Drafts
Although this sounds tedious, an essay can only get better from the initial draft if you put time and effort into it. A rough draft is a great way to get all of your ideas onto the page, but the later drafts will allow you to hone in on what you are really trying to say in a clear format.
5. Peer Review/Go to the Writing Center
Sometimes it’s hard to notice spelling errors or awkward sentences when you’ve been staring at a paper for hours on end. Ask a friend to read it! A fresh set of eyes will be able to notice things that you cannot. The Writing Center at Clemson is also a great tool for essay editing. They are more than happy to read over your paper and give you some helpful tips.
6. Establish a Clear Argument
Every essay has a goal, so make sure that yours is clear. Having a clear thesis allows your reader to better understand your choices in body paragraphs and whatever areas of the novel you have decided to write on. Always try and answer the question, “So what?”
7. Cite Your Sources
The last thing you want is to get points off for not doing something as simple as a works cited page. Sometimes professors don’t require them, but it’s always good to carefully look over the syllabus and assignment sheet to make sure.
8. See Your Professor During Office Hours
Your professors want to help you! It may seem intimidating at first, but they would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Your professors want you to succeed! A lot of times they are willing to look over your paper and let you know whether you are on the right track or not.
9. Support Your Claim with Textual Evidence
It’s important to be able to support your argument with evidence from the book. Your paper can go from a 6 to a 10 just by utilizing quotes.
Written By: Lauren Golden