Going to school can be stressful at any time of the year. But, the end of each semester is incredibly demanding. On top of everything else you need to get done, you have final projects to complete, tests to study for, and essays to write.
At Sunrise Village, we believe it is essential that you have a safe and comfortable environment to work and finish your end-of-semester activities. For this reason, we offer affordable and student-friendly apartments near Brigham Young University - Idaho (BYU-I). Our goal is to provide you with sufficient space to study and write while you complete each semester.
To help you get the best grade possible and, hopefully, reduce some of your end-of-the-semester stress, we want to share our favorite essay-writing tips.
1. Do Not Procrastinate
It is easy to put off any final assignment until the end of the semester. However, this puts you in a rough situation where you are stressed and rushing to finish your essay before the deadline. When this happens, your final draft usually suffers—and so does your grade.
Instead, we recommend that you start working on your final essay as soon as you get the assignment. Try to have your rough draft finished a week before the final essay is due. This will give you time to edit and rewrite as needed.
We also recommend that you use a calendar to set small deadlines leading up to the final deadline. For example, set a deadline to have your outline written or sources gathered. Then, schedule other deadlines to have each section of the essay drafted. As you successfully check off each smaller deadline, it will help keep you motivated as you work towards the final version.
2. Analyze the Prompt
Before you start writing, make sure you understand exactly what your professor is asking. This will help ensure that your final essay meets the assignment requirements.
Overall, the purpose of the essay will allow your professor to evaluate your understanding of the semester as well as your ability to think critically about the materials in the context of the assignment. Keep this in mind as you move forward.
You will be given some type of prompt or question to guide the topic of your essay. Reread the prompt several times and break it down:
- What key concepts need to be included?
- What is the scope of the essay?
- What do you need to accomplish?
As you ask yourself these questions, it will help you determine the type of essay that your professor is asking you to write. You may be asked to analyze, argue, compare/contrast, describe, evaluate, reflect, and more. Knowing the type of essay required will aid you with the style and tone as you begin writing.
3. Create an Outline
An outline provides a platform for you to organize your thoughts before you begin writing. Take 15 to 30 minutes to brainstorm ideas that fit the assignment.
Once you have a list of ideas, review them and pick one. It is helpful to pick one that interests you. This will help you stay engaged as you research and write.
After you pick your main theme or idea, sketch out supporting thoughts. You will need at least three. Then, decide what other details you will need to support them. This will help you as you start doing research and collecting sources.
4. State Your Thesis
When you understand what you have been tasked with, you can write your thesis statement. A thesis is one to two sentences where you tell your professor what your essay will accomplish. It presents an informed point of view. Ultimately, your thesis states the direction for your entire essay.
A strong thesis statement will be specific and express one main idea. Too many ideas in an essay will confuse the reader and make it challenging to write. It is also helpful if your thesis makes a stand on the topic. This provides a definitive path for your essay to follow.
5. Organize Your Essay
All essays have three basic components: introduction, body, and conclusion. For most college-level essays, you will likely be asked to write a five-paragraph essay. Always check the assignment to see the exact requirements.
Remember that you do not have to write your essay from beginning to end in that order. It can be helpful to start with the body paragraphs. Once those are written, you can move on to the introduction followed by the conclusion.
The introduction provides a space for you to introduce your essay and clearly state your thesis. It also helps set the tone and provide a road map for what will follow.
An important aspect of the introduction is to engage the reader. Write these paragraphs with the knowledge your professor will read it, so why not make it exciting for them?
To create curiosity, use a hook to grab the reader’s attention. Avoid using something that the professor already knows. Instead, make a bold claim, tell a story, or provide a startling fact. You want to do something that makes them want to read more whether they have to or not.
The body is the meat and potatoes of your essay. This is where you will develop the specific ideas that support your thesis. This is also where you will provide evidence to back up your ideas.
Typically, the body of your essay will be three paragraphs if writing a five-paragraph essay. Each paragraph presents one main idea that supports your thesis.
To write a good paragraph, Purdue University recommends following their TTEB method.
- Transition: Create a solid transition from the previous paragraph to create a smooth read.
- Topic sentence: Explain to the reader what you will share in that specific paragraph.
- Evidence: Provide specific evidence to support your idea and your analysis to deepen your thought.
- Brief wrap-up: End with a sentence that wraps up that paragraph’s point and how it links back to your thesis.
The conclusion is where you synthesize your ideas and relate them back to the thesis. It provides a place for your final thoughts on the subject. However, it is not the place to present new material.
As you write your conclusion, consider the question “so what?” for every statement. The final points that you summarize should be able to answer that question. If not, keep working on it until they do.
Use your conclusion to recall significant findings that were made in your essay. However, do not just repeat yourself. Instead, use them to propose a solution or ask additional questions. This helps give your reader something to take away from your essay.
6. Use Evidence to Support Your Ideas
As you write your essay, it is vital that you use evidence to substantiate your thesis. This should be done throughout each paragraph of your body.
Evidence might come from reading materials presented during the class or from outside sources found during your research. It can include quotes, statistics, examples, facts, or paraphrased information.
As you present your ideas in each body paragraph and provide evidence, you will need to connect the evidence back to your statements. Explain how it relates to or supports your claim.
Be sure to properly cite your sources in the text of your essay and the citation summary at the end. Check the assignment instructions to see if you should use MLA, APA, or another formatting style.
Lastly, never plagiarize. Proper credit should always be given to a source whether you paraphrase or directly quote it.
7. Write Clearly
When your essay is done, it should be clearly written and free of any grammar or spelling errors. You want your professor to focus on the content of your paper and not on mistakes you might have made.
This is where having extra time between finishing your rough draft and submitting your final paper can be helpful. Use it to reread your paper and make any necessary revisions. If possible, have someone else read it. A fresh pair of eyes can find things that you might have missed. It can also be helpful to read it out loud to identify awkward sentences or transitions.
To help check that your essay is clear and concise, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is your thesis clearly stated in the introduction and limited to one theme?
- Does the introduction lay out what the reader will find in the rest of the essay?
- Does each body paragraph introduce one main idea that supports your thesis?
- Do you provide supporting evidence for the main idea in each paragraph?
- Do you connect the evidence to the main idea in each paragraph?
- Do you logically transition from one idea to the next?
- Does your conclusion introduce new material?
- Does your conclusion provide a brief synopsis of your points and link them back to your thesis?
- Are you being repetitive or redundant?
- Have you properly cited your sources?
- Is the essay grammatically correct?
- Is everything spelled correctly?
If needed, run your essay through a grammar check. We recommend using Grammarly. They have an app and browser extension you can use as you write.
Here are some final essay-writing tips:
- Employ varied language throughout to keep your writing fresh. If needed, use a thesaurus.
- Use an active voice rather than a passive one.
- Write in the present tense unless writing about historical events.
Whether you are working on your first or last essay for a class, be sure to not overstress or overwork yourself. Prioritize your assignments and set up a comfortable space in your apartment where you can work without too many distractions.
Also, remember to take care of yourself. It is okay to say “no” to a social activity so you can focus on your homework. However, you can also take breaks from studying and writing to have a bit of fun. It’s about finding balance.
If you are looking for an affordable and comfortable place to live while attending BYU-I, check out our apartments at Sunrise Village. We offer classic and modern apartment layouts close to campus and downtown Rexburg. Let us help you to have a study-friendly environment as you work towards graduation.