Essay writing tips: Getting through finals the “write” way

For many students, finals are the exaggerated boss battle at the very end of any video game. It looms in the distance and brings a sense of dread to most students who think about them. 

But in some cases, instead of final tests, many courses will assign final essays. As a tutor at the Writing Center, consider this a writer’s guide through the long hours of typing. 

Compare each essay to the basics of building a house. Every house needs a foundation and a frame. After this comes the walls, roof, doors and windows. Finally, make the house a home with furniture, plumbing, heating and all other living necessities. 

Start with “The Rule of 3s.” This will serve as our foundation and frame. For any essay, you will need to start with a thesis and a structure. For a thesis, it is important to start the sentence with your topic closely followed by your opinion regarding it and finished up with three main points to support this opinion. Here is a basic example of a thesis statement following this rule of thumb: “Cats are the best companions for college students because they are easier to care for, more independent, and are neighbor friendly.” It is important to use brief blanket statements for the three main points in order to expand on those points later on. 

The Rule of 3s continues and intensifies with the body paragraphs, excluding the introduction and the conclusion where the thesis statement will reside. Let these paragraphs serve as the walls, windows, doors and roof. With the three main points from the thesis, you can now create three sections of the paper. For each main point, it is important to find three points of evidence to support it. Expand on these pieces of evidence or add more pieces based on how long the paper needs to be. 

For most college-level papers, the format will be APA. These papers include title pages and reference pages. For more information regarding this style, visit apastyle.apa.org. This website has been a tremendous help to tutors and students alike. It provides reference examples, student sample papers, and other updated rules and guidelines for the format. 

Now it is time to make the house a home with the living necessities. This includes word choice, grammar and adding the proper spice to the essay that will improve the likelihood of getting an ‘A.’ For instance, transitional words in the beginning of the first sentence of the paragraph can play a major role in allowing your paper to flow smoothly. Words such as “additionally,” or “furthermore,” or “also,” signal to the reader that the writer is continuing the essay rather than finishing it. To signal to the reader that the essay has reached its final point, you can say words such as “finally,” or “lastly.” 

Word choice can also mean finding ways to get around the usage of words such as “I” and “you.” You can do this by instead writing “one” or “a person” or “people.” For instance, the last sentence I wrote could instead begin with, “One can do this,”  or, “A person can do this.” 

Finish the essay by providing a conclusion and a reference page. A conclusion is generally restating the introduction without repeating it word-for-word. It also includes the thesis statement. Experiment with different ways to deliver your paragraph based on your topic, as the conclusion has a habit of stumping most writers. 

One way to prepare for turning it in is to have a peer read through it or ask a tutor to read through specific portions of the essay that you are unsure about. Keep in mind that most tutors only have a maximum of about 45 minutes to help each student before ending the session. The Writing Center is located on the main floor of the Memorial Library by the elevators. 

Congratulations! You now have an essay that is ready to be turned in for grading. While writing is not everyone’s strong suit, having a basic and generalized blueprint for papers and essays is a great start for helping students get through the end-of-semester obstacles.

Write to Grace Anderson at andersongrace117@gmail.com

Header Photo: With finals quickly approaching, students can utilize the following tips and tricks to build a suitable essay for final papers on the way. (Courtesy Flickr)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.