For every class I’ve taken in college, I’ve had to write an essay. Even my microbiology class had me write an essay about a specific bacteria. Therefore, it’s extremely important for every student to be able to write a perfect college essay quickly and effectively.
Before you even sit down to write your essay, you need to know the guidelines for your essay. Look at your assignment from your professor to know exactly what to do. Look for:
- word count/page count requirements
- format style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc)
- writing style and voice (personal narrative, formal essay, etc)
- source material requirements
- due date (jot it down in your planner that you carry in your backpack!)
All of these are important to know before you get started to make sure you’re writing your essay the way your professor wants it. Once you know your requirements, then you can start planning your ideas.
Map it out
It’s super important to map out my ideas before I get started so I know where I’m going. Normally, students write their essays towards a page or word count. If you have to write 2 pages, you can generally estimate that’s around 5 paragraph, 3 body paragraphs, one introductory paragraph, and one conclusion. I start mapping out my essay like this, choosing what the main ideas would be for each paragraph:
Body 1: Main Idea
Body 2: Main Idea
Body 3: Main Idea
Next, I write my introduction and conclusion–we’ll discuss that more specifically in a minute. Once those are completed, my paper has basically written itself. All that’s left to do is turn my ideas into sentences.
Writing an introduction
Your introduction is what hooks your reader (or grader) and gets them ready to read your essay. You should give them enough information to keep them interested. Your thesis sentence is extremely important. This sentence will tell your reader exactly what to expect from your essay. For example, if I was trying to convince you not to eat meat in a personal essay, I would write, “I will prove that there is no reason for humans to eat meat because it provides little nutritional value, directly harms the earth, and ignores the rights of animals.” Here’s a good format of an intro paragraph.
A one to two sentence interesting hook that catches your readers attention; it could be a startling fact or quote or an anecdote. A nice transition between your intro and your thesis that provides relevance and more information. Your thesis, which strongly states your position and the main idea of each body paragraph.
This paragraph is the most important because it sets the tone for the rest of your essay!
Writing a conclusion
Your conclusion will follow nearly the same style as your introduction. In a few sentences, you’ll wrap up your ideas and conclude by nearly repeating your thesis sentence exactly.
Works cited page
Depending on the type of essay you’re writing, your works cited page will look different. I generally use Citation Machine to craft my sources. However, it’s important that you personally check your citations based on the guidelines your professor gives you to be sure.
You may also have in-text citations, so make sure those are properly cited based on the format of your paper. Nothing is worse than getting in trouble for plagiarism!
Once your paper is written, it is so extremely important that you actively proofread to catch any mistakes. The best ways to proofread are to either read your essay aloud to yourself to catch mistakes or to have your computer read it aloud to you so that you can hear any mistakes. The most important things I check for are:
- homophone mistakes, like using their/there/they’re correctly
- comma and other punctuation errors
- skipped or repeated words
Don’t skip proofreading! Proofread over and over again. You’ll realize parts you might not like as much, and the more time you spend looking at it, the more likely you are to find the perfect phrase!
- If your school offers a proofreading service, or you know of a friend who’s good at essays, use them!
- Make sure you print your essay as early as you can so you know you have a good copy of it in time and aren’t scrambling to print.
- Use a thesaurus to check out words you’re not sure on.
- Don’t hesitate to ask your professors and IAs for extra help.
- Looking for sources? Google “scholarly article about your topic” to find quality content.