Expert tips from an old teaching assistant and part-time professor on writing an ‘A’ paper

In your first year of university or college, you may commence to believe that “A” papers are a little like unicorns. Do they even exist? I remember feeling so angry and frustrated during first year; I experienced been an “A” student all through high school but suddenly, i really couldn’t score higher than a B+ on any of my written work. What had changed? How could I crack the code?

Now, after a PhD in English and many years of experience grading undergraduate and college papers, I’m here to tell you all of the plain things i wish I knew whenever I was getting started.

First, you should know that A’s are attainable—just rare. Some departments have recommended (if not set-in-stone) grade averages: which means the average mark for a certain course needs to be, as an example, a 70. Even without those institutional guidelines or restrictions, A-level grades are meant to be reserved for a small minority of papers that go far beyond in terms of content and execution. In a class of 50, the professor that is average teaching assistant will likely award 5 A-range grades, with almost all of those being A minuses and incredibly few (or maybe zero) As or A-pluses.

So, while I can’t promise that these tips will guarantee an A grade, i could assure you that if you follow these steps, your marks will materially improve.

Proceed with the instructions

This sounds dumb, however you could be surprised at how students that are many poorly (and sometimes even fail) since they simply try not to follow directions. That is a lot more crucial during the college level, where professors often grade assignments relating to strict rubrics. If the paper has to be cited in a particular style, use that style; that you analyze two texts, don’t analyze only one if it requires. You will never do well on an assignment if the paper you submit does not abide by the principles.

Attend class

Again, sounds basic, right? But this could easily make a difference that is huge your grades. First, in the event that you attend class and they are an participant that is active you’ll likely have a far more in-depth understanding of the course material, which is reflected in the quality of the work. Second, when your professor sees they will likely be more inclined to be generous when marking your paper that you are serious about the course. Students want to gripe about marks being subjective; this is buy essay online only true to a certain extent. Most TAs and professors have relatively consistent standards of why is a C, B, or A paper. However, the difference between a B and a B+ can often be subjective: if the professor thinks about you as a committed, hard-working student, that could push your grade up a few points.

Head to office hours

Don’t be shy! Your professor or TA generally is being paid to assist you during these hours, so make use of your resources. Drop by during office hours to inquire about questions regarding course materials and assignments, and even to have feedback in your outline or drafts that are early. Be polite and come prepared. Again, this can enhance the quality of one’s work which help you to definitely cultivate a relationship which could lead to slightly more grades that are generous.

Narrow your focus

One of the biggest mistakes that students make on papers, particularly when they are starting out, is they simply attempt to do too much. Don’t make an effort to write a paper that may explain or solve a problem that is huge. You likely can’t develop a stronger, convincing argument about a massive issue within a four-to-six page limit. By narrowing your focus to a manageable scope, you’ll be more likely to produce an paper that is strong.

Avoid generalizations

A-level papers rarely start off with “since the beginning of time….”Believe it or not, 80 per cent of undergraduate or college papers begin this way. I don’t know why. These opening sentences are the bane of each existence that is professor’s. “Since the start of time, men and women have struggled to obtain along.” Well, maybe. But can you really have the research to back up this massive, general statement? Adhere to specific, provable claims.

Proofread your work

Always, always leave some time for you to proofread your projects and check your formatting. Virtually every grader will dock marks if your work is hard to understand or if perhaps it doesn’t follow your department’s standards. Again, this could be even stricter in college. I graded according to departmental rubrics that deducted 1 point per grammar error, up to 15 per cent, and 1 point per formatting error, up to 15 per cent when I taught college writing. Some students lost the full 30 per cent of the grade this way! Don’t be that student. Proofread, show your work to someone during the Writing Centre, do what you ought to do to clean things up. That isn’t just a fussy school thing: within the professional world, people will judge your writing predicated on things such as grammar and magnificence.