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“Take That, Essay!” A Step-By-Step Guide to Conquering Essays For Good

Written by Herminia Chow

Essays make up a good chunk of your final grade in university, but some of us tend to struggle with them. It’s a fact. Fortunately, the next time you find yourself fending off the monster that is a research paper, you can emerge successful from the battle. How? By following the tips outlined below, of course!

1. Pick Your Topic Early

Determining your topic early has many benefits. You can get teacher approval (take advantage of office hours), get a head start, and get excited by how far ahead you are! If your topic is too narrow, there may be little to no information on it. On the contrary, if you find yourself overwhelmed with facts and statistics, your topic might be too broad. Above all, pick something that you’re passionate about. The prospect of researching and writing should excite you at least a little. This makes the writing process much easier. Bonus tip: challenge yourself to go against the norm. Defend a presumably villainous character or take on an unpopular opinion.

2. Manage Your Time Wisely

Allocating a chunk of time for your research is crucial. You shouldn’t be undergoing a huge exploration of your topic the day before your paper is due. For best results, break it up into small sessions. With each research session, have a clear goal in mind to increase your productivity. Are you hoping to study a single event, investigate two chapters, or complete three pages of notes? Decide before you start and you’ll find your task much more achievable.

3. Experiment With Resources

This may come as a shock to you, but Google doesn’t have all the answers. You can and should employ various research methods because Wikipedia just doesn’t cut it in university (or high school, for that matter). Look into periodicals, videos, or podcasts. If possible, interview an expert or two. You may be in for an enlightening surprise. Having a number of different sources to draw from ensures your information is accurate and objective. At the very least, you won’t wind up repeating the same point five times over to meet a word count.

4. Verify Your Sources

Credibility matters. Consider the author of the article, their background, and any relevant qualifications of theirs. Don’t forget to look at the domain extensions to see whether the site is reliable. Educational webpages tend to end in .edu, government pages will have .gov, commercial sites are indicated by .com. You get the idea.

5. Plan Your Paper

Do you ever find yourself straying  from your thesis? Planning eliminates this problem because you’ll have a good idea of how you’ll present your arguments well before you start writing. An outline allows you to organize your thoughts logically and coherently. The more planning you do beforehand, the stronger your paper will be.

6. Write the Damn Essay!

It’s tempting to procrastinate until the last second. However, you’ll enjoy writing essays more if you space the task out over the course of a few days or even weeks. Your finished product will reflect your initial efforts, so start writing!

Leave your best research tips in the comments below—who knows? You might end up being someone’s essay lifesaver.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.