Writing an academic paper can seem like a long and daunting undertaking. After you’ve finished your first draft, it’s hard to recognize what sections could use improvement. This simple guide will walk you through some basic tips and tricks towards improving the final grade of your paper.
This is a very necessary step in properly revising your paper. After spending so much time on a single draft, it’s hard to view the content within objectively. If this is the case, you’re still too close to your work to properly revise it. Take a day off and let your mind wander freely. When you return to your paper, you’ll have fresh eyes and be able to identify the strongest and weakest points within your paper more easily.
Often times, while writing a first draft, it’s very tempting to use unnecessarily long words or over-complicate your arguments and ideas. Remember, it’s not the length of the paper that’s important, rather it’s your ability to convey complex thoughts into an easy-to-understand document that will impress your professors. After stepping away from your first draft for a day or two, you’ll be able to more easily identify what’s necessary and what is not. Always aim for quality over quantity, as that’s what really counts. As Mark Twain once said, “I wanted to write a short letter but I didn’t have the time, so I wrote a long one.” The shorter and more concise your paper is, the more effectively you have conveyed your thoughts and arguments.
Nothing will lower your grade faster than spelling or grammatical errors. Instead of relying solely on your word processor’s limited spell check feature, consider investing in a more professional software. More advanced grammar-correcting software will recognize the difference between misspelled words and often-confused words, such as then vs. than. They will also recognize when you meant to type the word of instead of if by analyzing the surrounding sentence.
You know what they say about first impressions: you only get one. Spend a little extra time and effort in enhancing the presentation of your paper. This can include buying a binder or presentation folder, or even using specialized paper. Your professor will appreciate the extra effort and keep that in mind while grading your paper. Just be sure the contents of the paper are just as attractive as the exterior!