How to Earn a Better Grade on Your Term Paper
by Dorothy Zjawin
As a college composition instructor, I have found that quite a few students have shortchanged themselves by disregarding important issues in writing papers. What is really sad is that many of those errors could have been avoided! Also, writing a good term paper that earns a better grade doesn't have to be a hassle, especially if you tackle it one step at a time and avoid a few of the following common errors.
ERROR 1: Not focusing your paper with a clear point that is tailored to a specific audience. Example: you write something like, "New York is an exciting place to visit." This statement is too broad and fails to address itself to a specific audience. Avoid this error by narrowing it down and tailoring it to an audience such as colleagues or classmates or artists. An example may be, "The Metropolitan Museum's Renoir collection highlights the best (or worst) in Renoir's paintings." Your audience will certainly will want to know why and you can explain it to them in the body of your paper.
ERROR 2: Not paying attention to paragraph sequence and flow. In other words, a given paragraph does not flow smoothly from the previous one. In fact, it covers a totally different aspect of your subject, confusing your reader. Avoid this problem by outlining your rough draft. Number each paragraph and write a one-sentence summary of it from beginning to end. When you have finished, you will have an outline of your paper and be able to see at a glance what seems to flow smoothly or not.
ERROR 3: Not developing your paragraphs well. Your paragraphs contain sentences that do not flow smoothly from one to the next. These sentences' ideas "jump:" instead of developing a point and moving on to the next, each sentence presents a different point. Avoid this error by developing each sentence and consider using transitive words such as, to that end, next, third, etc.
ERROR 4: Forgetting to develop the concluding paragraph. A few students include a single statement or merely end their papers by writing, "in conclusion." Such words are trite interrupt paragraph flow. Avoid this problem by considering what you want your readers to remember after they have read your paper. Carefully summarize the highlights of your paper's content.
The above errors are not only common, but cause students to receive low grades for their papers. But paying attention to such errors will enable you to go far in writing a term paper or research paper that makes a difference and earns a higher grade.
Dorothy Zjawin has served as a consulting mentor of English composition and technical writing at Thomas Edison State College for nearly ten years. Her writing credits include Instructor articles and a book, Teaching Ideas for the Come-Alive Classroom (Parker Pub. Co./Prentice-Hall). Writers who are interested in writing for money are invited to visit her website, www.profitable-pen.com and her new blog, earnmoneyfromwriting.blogspot.com