Ever read these novels? The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Vladimir’s Lolita; Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Moby Dick by Herman Melville or King Lear by Shakespeare. What is common between them?
They all are unforgettable!
Whenever you turn the pages of these great stories, you want to know what happens next? And this is what the examiner demands in students’ academic papers. Compare this with the paper you have written in recent times. Do you really look forward to presenting this paper to your examiner?
Not really! We think there are multiple reasons – it is not focused or to-the point or it does not answer the question. But what happens if you learn to write a focused and to-the-point paper?
Excited? Let’s get started.
- Don’t think about future, live in the present
A passing thought always bothers you when you write an academic paper ‘what’s next’. After writing one sentence, you focus on thinking ‘what should be the next line that matches the previous one?’ In the meantime, you forget to think about the bigger picture that keeps the focus alive in the writing. The outcome is off-the focus paper that does not get you anyway near to satisfactory marks. So prevent your brain from thinking, ‘what should be the next line to impress your examiner’ and think about the main idea that should interweave this piece of writing.
- Begin before it begins
You might be thinking you should be super careful while writing the paper. But not before or after? Experts say the process of writing a focus academic paper begins at the pre-writing stage. Critical to establishment, a focus is knowing your audience. Try to find answers to these questions like ‘who will read your piece of writing and why? What do they expect they will read in the paper? What do they want to know while reading the assignment? Try to envision your audience and their roles in your writing in order to find the focus before you begin writing.
- Dig a hole and work your way
Analyzing and synthesizing ideas from different backgrounds and then critically evaluate them – that’s when the focus comes in the picture. But if you are reading something, how can you as a graduate student critique it? Frankly, you don’t. Evaluating ideas is more like digging a hole and work your way in that direction. In simpler meaning, you don’t need to find a gaping flaw in a study that someone spent their career exploring, you only have to point out the issues that you think need a solution. That’s what makes a difference between a ‘B’ grade and ‘A’ grade paper.
- Put the important things in the box
A focused assignment needs focused reading. And it is done best when you read the introduction and conclusion of a chapter or the significant chapter of a book. If you try to plough through 300- page book, you actually won’t get anything out of it. So play smart. However, reading smartly will not help you entirely. You need to arrange the gathered information in a helpful and systematic way. We have an interesting idea to share with you. Small things like figure, quotation, numerical data or something else can be stored in a box. So you get hold of any of these when you really need.
- Always stick to your thoughts
As you get more engaged with the topic, new ideas come floating to your mind. You try to dump all previous ideas and start fresh. But you need to be honest – is this the risk worth taking? If you think it will bring only a few marks extra, then it is not worth the risk. You better stick to your previous plan. On the other hand, if it shows the possibility of changing your average write-up to superior paper, then you should go for it. But again think, do you have enough time to start the process from the scratch. We always advise you to remain loyal to yourself and have belief in you.
- Clear your mind
Thinking too much mostly leads you to writing too much – that mostly confuses your audience and throws your assignment off the hook. We are not asking you not to think about the task while doing it. That would be a very stupid thing to do. But what we are trying to say is that you need to bind your thoughts around the main ideas that you plan to incorporate. If you think too much outside the box, you may end up going off the track. So the best way to deal with your brain is write down the main ideas on a piece of a paper. When you have them in front of you, it gets easier for you to walk down the path that you have decided.
- Do not let the first impression be your last
We give too much importance to the introduction part because this the first section of an assignment that does or does not get readers’ attention. But we barely spare thoughts on conclusion despite it carrying the same significance as an introduction. Yes, the introduction can make the first impression on your readers but conclusion carries that till the end. Let’s say you have written a marvelous introduction that might spell bound your readers, but ended up writing a poor conclusion. What happens is your readers think good of you until they read the conclusion. When they complete reading, they leave with a negative impression. So cutting the story in short, make an effort to perfect your conclusion as well as an introduction.
- Show evidence of your honesty
What makes your paper focused and to-the-point is how well you showcase the relationship between your ideas and the presented evidence. For starters, the argument presented in the paper should be supported by relevant evidence. Secondly, the evidence incorporated in the writing should have a direct relationship with the ideas chosen to present. Thirdly, the inclusion of real life examples should be considered in assignment writing. Fourthly, the final word count of the paper and the number of examples should be proportionate. Try not to overburden the copy with too many examples. Include when it is necessary.
- Know what works for you
Writing an assignment paper is no less than fighting a battle and to win it, you need proper weaponry and ammunition. You need to have a clear idea what works for you and what leaves you in trouble. There are a few writing strategies that have been developed to help students to become a better writer. RAFT is one of the significant among them. This strategy is mainly designed to help students understand their roles as a writer and communicate their ideas clearly to the audience. By using this strategy, students boost up their creativity cells, consider the given or chosen topic from a different perspective and master skills to write for different audiences. It additionally assists them to respond to provided prompts after thinking about various perspectives like the role of the writer, the audience, format of the paper and the topic.
- Avoid vagueness
You as an adult are certain what do you want from the life or your partner or friends, so are your examiners. They definitely don’t want any vagueness in your writing. It should be clear and focused. So there’s no scope for vagueness. Sentences like ‘the point of my paper is…’ and ‘in my opinion’ should strictly be avoided. Most of the students make a common mistake of creating a vague thesis statement that does not lead anyone to anywhere. Knowing the purpose of a thesis statement is not enough, students need to understand the significance of it. In order to write a successful thesis statement, here are a few tips, avoid burying a great thesis statement in the middle of the paper or in the end of the paper. Be as clear as possible, hit on the point that matters the most.
- Never leave your paper alone
A sigh of relief! You finally completed the paper. You want to get out of the room (dorm room, if you are not studying in the library) never come back. But you really should not. You still have a lot of work to do. When you are done writing the paper, most of the students close the doc file and never really opens it up. Do not make this same mistake. It is natural that your written assignment has more mistakes and errors that you could think of. Moreover, if you are aiming for focused and to-the-point paper, you should revise the paper and if your idea makes sense or not. Read the assignment loud and slowly. Check whether the ideas are arranged in a proper manner, review how well each idea makes an impact, verify whether ideas directly connect to the thesis statement, confirm evidence you have produced in the paper to make your stances more powerful not contradictory. Finally revise the paper to check if there’s any grammatical, syntactical or spelling mistake.
This might seem undoable at first. But when you master the skills and acknowledge the tricks, it becomes a lot easier for you. While you practice to bring out the best academic writer in you, you need help. Fortunately, there’s a helping hand for you. Use it wisely!
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