5 Secrets to Getting a Great Grade on Your Paper

1. Know your professor.

Your professor assigned this paper because he or she wants to know something about you as a learner.  Look over your syllabus.  What are the main objectives for your course? Talk to your professor.  Ask her what she is looking for in your paper.  The best way of acing a paper is giving your audience – in this case, your professor – what she wants.

2. Read the assignment thoroughly.

Many students look over writing assignments for paper length and font size, but don’t take the time to notice the content requirements.  Make sure to read your assignment a few times so that you know exactly what you need to do.  This will help you determine what your professor wants, get some ideas about your topic, and also figure out the amount of time you need to get the paper done.

3. Choose a focused topic.

Make sure that the topic you choose is specific and that your thesis statement is concise.  Many students think choosing that a broader topic will make it easier to find lots of things to write about. However, the broader your topic, the more difficulty you will have in narrowing down your subtopics and making a clear, concise thesis statement.  For example, if you are in a U.S. History course, instead of writing about the 1960s, write about political music in the 1960s.  Better yet, write about the Bob Dylan and how he influenced the politics of the time.

4. Organize your ideas first.

Once you have a focused topic, do a little research and come up with a few subtopics.  Then break those down into smaller subtopics.  Create an outline for yourself before you begin writing.  This will help you stay on track with your writing, and will reduce the time you need to spend later on editing and revising your paper.

5. Give yourself enough time.

This is probably the most important thing you can do to get a good grade on your paper!  As soon as you know how long your paper needs to be, calculate the amount of time it will take you to complete each step of the paper writing process.  Don’t forget to factor in time to try out a few different topics, research, create an outline, find great quotes, edit and revise, and do citations.  Schedule paper writing time into your calendar.  The more time you give yourself, the less stressed you will be, and the more likely you are to ace your paper!