College Writing: Tips for the Best Papers (and Grades!)

Man sitting down on floor to write on notebook

College writing skills are extremely important for success as they’re guaranteed to help you not just as student, but as you continue on in your professional development.

Here’s are some tips that we have for college-level writing that will boost your grades and your skillset!

  • Focus directly on your specific topic
  • State your thesis (the topic and your opinion on it from your chosen perspective).
  •  Capture the reader’s attention. This can be done by posing a question, stating a relevant quote, making a strong statement, or using a statistic
  • Introduce the main points to be discussed while writing your paper
  • Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas

A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph that signals to the reader what the paragraph’s main idea will be. Topic sentences should: 

  • Relate back to the argument of the thesis
  • Concisely summarize the key idea of the paragraph
  • Can even contain key words from the thesis statement

Summarizing your information is also key!

  • Most writing assignments can be significantly improved by including a short introductory paragraph that identifies the issues to be discussed and a conclusion that provides a summary of the arguments and topics in the paper
  • How to summarize effectively:
    • Restate the main topic of your paper and provide explanation about why it is important
    • Restate the thesis of your paper
    • Explain the significance of your arguments and ideas in case you haven’t done it in previous paragraphs

A good rule of thumb is to restate your thesis statement, if you have one. Your conclusion should also refer back to your introduction, summarize three main points of your essay and wrap it all up with a final observation.

How long should your academic paper really be?

The short answer is it varies!

The length of your paper can differ depending on your course, the weight of the paper, and your instructor!

Most of your paper requirements should have the required length of the paper listed by your instructor, and if not, your instructors are always happy to clarify!

Let’s break it down:

  • Intro
  • 1st Argument
  • 2nd Argument
  • 3rd Argument
  • Conclusion

Introduction and Conclusion:

  • 5-6 sentences: 1paragraph

Arguments:

  • Each argument should consist of 3 paragraphs
  • If the essay is shorter, one paragraph may suffice

Get an extra set of eyes on your paper once you think you’re done your part!

When you spend a lot of time staring at a paper, it is easy to overlook grammatic and spelling errors, as well as correct phrasing.

  • Who should review your work?
    • Someone who is in the same class
    • Someone fluent in English or used English as their first language
    • Added tip: if you live with the person reviewing your paper, try to review it together so that you understand their edits!

It is important to know that just because an extra set of eyes may lead to some suggestions, you don’t necessarily need to make the changes if you do not agree with them!

We hope these college writing skills tips have helped you enhance your writing – best of luck!

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