15 Ways To Write A Killer Midterm Paper

15 Steps To Write That Killer Midterm Paper

Midterms are a stressful time, but writing papers shouldn't have to be.


It's that time of the semester again. The halfway point that gets college students super stressed when it's not even finals yet. That's right, I'm talking about midterms.

Midterms, depending on your major, can be standardized tests or papers. No matter what your midterm is, it is a daunting task to cope in a time of such stress.

As a former English major and a first-year grad student in a creative writing program, I am familiar with the midterm paper. A junior in undergrad I know quite well inspired this article. The advice I gave her should be advice all undergrads hear so they can stop worrying about what to do when the midterm paper time arrives.

There are so many ways to tackle paper writing. To get the best grade, undergraduates should consider using these surefire techniques:

1. Give yourself sufficient time to write your paper.

Sufficient time = at least two weeks before the paper is due. The best plan is to begin writing any major papers as soon as you get the syllabus and continue working on the paper throughout the semester, or at least until the deadline.

2. Begin by writing down all your possible ideas about the prompt.

Just getting the prompt may spark some inspiration in you. Most of those ideas won't make it to the typed page, but it's a start.

3. Generate a list of questions the reader might have about your topic.

One of the biggest things I did wrong with my academic essays and research papers was write from my own perspective. The point is to address an issue by answering the reader's questions about that issue. The reader will not learn anything if you just record your research or list observations. You need to clearly explain what you're trying to say. Don't make the reader try too hard.

4. Find your sources & take notes on paper.

Taking notes will make doing parenthetical citations so much easier because you will know which page the quote is being taken from. Using paper will cause you to slow down and be more aware of all your choices.

5. Create an outline on paper.

This is your plan of attack. This is where you can organize your paper and answer the reader's biggest questions about your topic.

6. Reread your sources.

A second read will help you gather new information you may have missed during the first read. For longer sources, use the table of contents and skim for important information.

7. You can be inspired by the work of others and borrow their ideas without plagiarizing their work.

Certain ideas authors put in their work can lead to the development of your own thesis. You can write an entire paper around an idea another author has used to support their argument. Never use another person's work verbatim without citing your sources.

8. You can use the sources cited in the source you are reading.

The sources cited at the bottom of your source could possibly have valuable information you could use in your paper, maybe even more than the original source in which you have found the sources they used.

9. The first draft is for content.

The first draft will always be bad. It should be to get your content and your central focus on the page.

10. Have someone else look at it.

Getting feedback is key. The person editing for you will pick up on clear errors and be able to suggest ways to improve the paper.

11. Revise for clarity and coherence.

The paper should start to become clear and have a good logical flow upon the writing of your second draft.

12. You can change your thesis between drafts.

You could always change your mind about what you will write about, so your thesis could change too. That's okay. Allow yourself to experiment with it.

13. It's OK not to know your thesis until the end of your paper.

Theses can be changed at the end of a draft to better suit the argument, especially if you didn't realize the direction of your paper until you finished.

14. Revise the paper as much as you can until it feels right.

Revision is hard but necessary. Do it as many times until the paper sounds less like you're speaking to yourself in your mind and more you being in the mind of your reader.

15. Give yourself days off until the paper deadline.

You need to have time for yourself to just have fun and not think about your paper so when you have to sit down and write, you can focus all your energy on writing it. Your mind will be more attentive if you diversify your activities.

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.

College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.


Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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