'Revision is key': 6 Tips for Writing Difficult Papers

The first draft is almost never perfect, so be kind to yourself.
by Samantha Onglatco   |  Jul 18, 2021
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Writing papers can be extremely stressful and difficult for students, but it is an inevitable part of university life. It is essential for college students to know how to express their arguments and thoughts coherently in their papers, especially since it serves as preparation for the professional world. As daunting of a task as it might seem, it can actually get quite fun once you shift your perspective! Try seeing it as an opportunity to learn more about the issue instead of seeing it as another requirement you have to accomplish. 

Here, we list down some tips that will help you win over your professor and ace that paper: 

Start early and pace yourself properly by setting up a schedule. 

It’s important to start early so you have time to pace yourself. To make the task seem more achievable, break your task down into smaller parts. Set goals that you want to accomplish within a certain timeframe. You know yourself best, so make sure you create a schedule that works for you! 

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Read about the topic at hand. 

The key to writing good papers is being well-informed about the issue you are writing about, especially when it’s a sensitive topic.

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More often than not, issues have two sides to it. Familiarize yourself with the arguments of both sides in order to fully understand the issue. You can also explore outside sources as well (as long as they’re credible ones)! Don’t limit yourself to the sources your professor provided you with. The Internet is rich with a lot of free resources that can aid in giving you a wider and deeper understanding of your topic. 

Organize your thoughts by creating an outline for your paper. 

The first step is to make a thesis statement. A thesis statement is meant to be the main argument of your paper. A good thesis statement must be succinct, specific, and debatable. After that, write down your arguments that support your thesis statement. Remember to introduce and conclude your arguments properly.

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Here’s a pro tip: For introductions, you can provide the general premise of the argument. After you’ve expounded, you can conclude with a sentence that summarizes what you want your reader to take away. You can even explain why the arguments against your point are faulty to make your point stronger. 

Additionally, bring something new to the table by offering a new perspective and extending your arguments by going beyond the reading. But of course, this doesn’t mean that you should entirely neglect your sources and readings! Find ways to incorporate the main arguments of your readings and sources into your paper. 

Write a draft. 

Once you’re done creating an outline, start writing your first draft! Flesh out the points you made in your outline to make the paper as comprehensive as possible. Keep in mind that the first draft is almost never perfect, so be kind to yourself. 

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Proofread your paper, then revise accordingly. 

Revision is the key to writing a fool-proof paper. Try to comment on your own paper as if you were your own professor and revise until you are fully satisfied with what you see. You can even ask someone you trust to proofread your paper if they’re game! 

Cite your sources.

Give credit where credit is due. Plagiarism is considered a serious offense in educational institutions! This also goes with the fact that you should be using in-text citations in your paper. It is your responsibility to inform the reader which ideas are yours and which aren’t. 

It’s good to familiarize yourself with the citation formats, and even better, to know them by heart! There are plenty of guides on the Internet. But if you’re just beginning to familiarize yourself with the art of citing sources, you can use this citation machine! 

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Remember to check your syllabus and see if your professor has any preferred format for citations. The most popular ones are APA, Chicago, and MLA. 

Happy writing! You got this!

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