So, you’ve slapped together an essay at the last minute for your college coursework. You probably already know it’s not your greatest work, but you’d still like to avoid getting a low score if possible. The following checklist includes a few of the worst attributes an essay can have, and avoiding them should considerably improve your grade.
One thing that nearly all instructors will notice—and think harshly of—immediately is an essay which ignores the style and format required. Following the professor’s instructions regarding font type, font size, margins, citations, and reference pages requires minimal effort, but it does show that you took the requirements seriously. Go over the requirements again and make any corrections necessary before turning in your essay.
Again, making sure your spelling and grammar are correct requires minimal effort and time. Especially in the case of spelling, however, a few mistakes can end up taking a huge percentage off of your score. Why? Because not proofreading and editing your paper appropriately shows sloppiness and laziness, two pet peeves almost every instructor shares!
It’s almost always better to fall a little short of the minimum required length than to repeat yourself again and again. Of course, it’s better yet to find a bit of new material or expand upon what you have to meet the required length. Either way, redundancy sticks out like a sore thumb and your professor is very likely to knock a significant number of points off your grade for fluffing your paper with repeated words and phrases.
If you’re required to use sources for your paper, make certain you’ve used high quality ones. This doesn’t take much, if any, more time than using low quality sources, but it will improve your essay tremendously.
Finally, take time to create a detailed outline before sitting down to write. Rambling is an immediately noticeable trait of a bad paper, and it doesn’t save you any time. Actually, rambling on can often lead you off track and result in an essay that takes longer to write in the long run. Organize your ideas well from the start, and you’ll find not only that you receive a better grade but that the writing process is streamlined as a result.
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