There's a Key to Writing a Killer Essay in College & I've Got It
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There's a Key to Writing a Killer Essay in College & I've Got It

Stop stressing over that paper now because I've answered your questions.

There's a Key to Writing a Killer Essay in College & I've Got It
Trinity Tew

When it comes to school, English has always been my favorite subject. I do well in all of my classes, but English is always my strongest subject, despite not having grammar down 100%. Because really who does? I believe part of why I love writing is because I love the creativity that comes with it, but I also believe it's because of these tricks and habits I've either been taught or picked up along the way.

1. Know The Topic

Trinity Tew

In all English classes, you are either given explicit instructions on what to write on or you have to get your topic approved. Either way, you need to really know the topic. Brainstorm about what you might say about that, what resources you can use, and what your opinion is on the topic. Don't just know what the topic is, but know what you want to say about it.

2. Create Your Thesis

Trinity Tew

A thesis is the last sentence of your introductory paragraph that tells the reader what is going to be discussed, and what your opinion is on the topic. However, you don't blatantly say, "and my opinion is..." Instead, you write what your opinion is without saying those words. For example, if the topic was over dark chocolate and I thought it was the best chocolate, I would say, "... dark chocolate is the best chocolate out there." Notice I didn't say, "my opinion is", I just stated my opinion. The thesis should also be refutable- can someone believe the opposite of what you said is true? Especially in argumentative essays, the point is to convince the reader what you're saying is true, based on your evidence and explication of that evidence. Some people might not agree dark chocolate is the best chocolate, so as long as I have evidence to back up my claim, this works as my thesis. Another key element to the thesis sentence is that it must foreshadow. Typical college essays are five paragraphs long with three body paragraphs, which means that you should have three subtopics to discuss about the topic. I could talk about how dark chocolate is made, why dark chocolate is good for you, and how much dark chocolate is sold. It's important to tell the readers what to expect to learn in the body paragraphs, so these three need to be included in the thesis. The thesis could go something like: "Dark chocolate is the best chocolate in the world because of the way it is made, the benefits of eating it, and how much of it is sold globally." Obviously, this is a very rudimentary thesis, but it gets the point across. Thesis statements must have your opinion on the topic and foreshadow what you will talk about on the topic.

3. Make An Outline

Trinity Tew

Typically, I don't use these, but they are very helpful nonetheless. Even a very basic one can help. The most naked outline I've created has the introduction paragraph completed, lists the three subtopics foreshadowed in the thesis, briefly provides evidence for each subtopic, and has a preliminary conclusion paragraph. If you have to turn in your outline, there is a specific way to do that, which I have outlined above in the picture, per MLA formatting.

4. Develop Your Body Paragraphs

Trinity Tew

Each body paragraph follows the same rules. You must have an introductory sentence which tells the reader what to expect in that paragraph, then state, explicate, interpret, analyze, and summarize each piece of evidence you find to support that claim. And remember, each claim must support the thesis- it should not go off topic, be irrelevant, or support the antithesis. For example, for the first body paragraph explaining how dark chocolate is made, I'll have to bring in outside sources. I would have my introductory sentence, provide a segway, state the first piece of outside evidence, explain it, interpret how that evidence supports my claim that dark chocolate is the best, analyze any other aspects of it that might need to be discussed, and then summarize. At the end of each paragraph, you should "wrap up" what you are saying, which should always affirm the thesis. Note that it's okay to change your thesis if you need to- you are not stuck with your first thesis throughout the entire writing process.

5. Complete Your Conclusion Paragraph

Trinity Tew

The conclusion of your essay should restate your thesis and summarize your body paragraphs without saying it in the same words. The same way you would paraphrase an outside source, you don't want to say the exact same thing over again, simply find another way to say it. Once again, your conclusion should support your thesis statement.

6. Include a Works Cited Page

Trinity Tew

It is a good idea to photocopy all resources that you MIGHT use for your essay, that way you have an easy reference. The easiest thing to do is print the copy and highlight interesting points in one color, then once you start developing your essay, highlight the text you use in a different color. Always remember to include the title and cover page and all necessary information to cite properly. Purdue Owl is a great resource to learn or check if your citation is correct.

7. Misc. Notes

Trinity Tew

Never throw away any scratch paper until you are ready to turn in your essay, because you never know if you'll use something you wrote down on a half-ripped piece of paper.

Use the thesaurus. I love it. It doesn't mean I'm a bad writer because I use it, in fact, it helps make me a better one. My vocabulary has improved and I'm able to give better synonyms myself. However, there are always times when I can't quite find the word I'm looking for, or when I find myself repeating a word or phrase and I need a new way to say it. The thesaurus is your friend- use it.

Try to write the entire essay in one sitting. If you get up and stop in the middle of writing, you interrupt the flow and ideas you're having, risking making your essay sound choppy and inconsistent. It's okay to take small breaks if it's a long essay, but try not to get up and leave your computer or paper unless you are too frustrated to concentrate. If you are too agitated to write, then it's okay to leave and start over.

Revise your paragraphs as you write. Once I have my thesis and outline, I write my introductory paragraph and revise. Then, I write my first body paragraph, read the entire essay so far, and revise. Next, I write my second body paragraph, read all three paragraphs, and revise. The point of this process is to make sure the essay flows and the ideas are consistent. It is helpful to me, so I know that at the end I won't have to change an entire paragraph because it doesn't "sound right" with the rest of it.

Use Grammarly, Word's Spelling and Grammar checker, or get your college writing center to help. It never hurts to get a second, or third or fourth, pair of eyes to look over your essay.

Ask your professor to go over your rough draft before it is due. Remember: they cannot read your entire essay, because then you will have an unfair advantage over the other students. But, you can bring up certain passages or ask them about how to cite correctly or if you are using the correct grammar. They can read your thesis then discuss how you develop your body paragraphs. This is always a good idea so you know more of what they are looking for in grading.

I hope this is helpful and gives you a better idea of how to write a college-level essay.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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