How To Compose A-Grade College Essays: 5 Great Suggestions

In college, the expectations for a paper go up exponentially. You’re going to be held to a much higher standard. An A-grade paper in high school may be a C-grade paper in college! Here are five tips to help you succeed in college essay writing every time.

  1. Give yourself plenty of time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your essay on Roman architecture shouldn’t be written in a day! This is college, so fly-by-night essays just won’t cut it anymore. Give yourself at least a week or more for writing, a few hours every day. This will make the process much more enjoyable, instead of trying to cram everything together in one night, and it will also make your paper better because your brain has time to organize itself between writing hours.
  2. Use an outline. For some people, an outline just means notes in bullets. For others, it means the full, standard, roman-numeral outline. Whatever your style is, an outline can really help you keep on track during writing as well as helping get your “pen to the paper”, so to speak, and get your ideas flowing. It will also help you understand which parts of the paper will need extra time and effort to succeed.
  3. Know what you’re talking about. You may think you’re a world-class BS-er, but your professor certainly doesn’t! Believe it or not, professors read so many papers each year that they can absolutely tell when you’ve come to something in your paper that you don’t understand. Instead of trying to “write through” your confusion (meaning you just babble on for a while without really saying anything meaningful), either spend more time with whatever idea or concept you’re having trouble with or don’t include it at all. Move on to something that you can talk about with confidence.
  4. Edit, edit, edit. Devote at least one full day’s work to editing. You can also edit as you go, but be sure to also look at the completed piece. You should look for grammar and spelling errors, of course, but also look for structural edits or weak sentences. You want your paper to flow smoothly from point to point, so if anything sounds “off” or doesn’t make a lot of sense, you should go back and work on it. One great editing tip is to read your essay aloud to yourself, slowly; this helps beat “lazy eye” that can happen when you just skim over the words without really seeing them.
  5. Visit your school’s writing lab. Most colleges these days have free writing services available to students at a writing center or writing lab. You’re paying for these services in your tuition, so you should absolutely make use of them! The staff at the writing lab may be professors or upper-level students who excel at English and can give you tips on choosing a topic, making an outline, researching, and even provide thorough editing services to help you take a C to an A.