The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It’s finals season, and for many Arts majors (like myself), it doesn't actually mean final exams – it means writing just about a million essays.
While prioritizing the nearest deadline is a good start, there’s still the task of actually typing out the words onto a document. So, as a student who just handed in her fourth essay of the week, here are my top five tips to help you cross off as many final papers as possible, as fast as possible.
1. Create a unique argument
Sometimes, all you need to stand out from the hundreds of papers your professor is marking is a unique argument. While opting for a generic topic that was previously discussed in class would be the easiest route, it can also lead to difficulty when you’re trying to add original thought. Coming up with a creative thesis could be more impressive, making it worthwhile to take a few extra steps and brainstorm before you begin.
2. Grammar, grammar, grammar
Grammarly exists for a reason – use it. While grammatical mistakes don’t necessarily impact the argumentative quality of an essay, it’s one way you can show your professor that you (sort of) know what you’re talking about. Specifically, in my English classes, I’ve noticed that grammar is usually a section on the rubric; so when I’m unsure if my content will cut it, I always feel at ease knowing I’ll rack up perfect points in terms of grammar.
3. Befriend your thesaurus
Oftentimes, sprinkling in a few unique words is all you need to make your writing sound more interesting (and smart). While some students claim a thesaurus only makes their writing more confusing, I believe it can be used strategically to a certain extent. I always have my thesaurus tab open when I’m working on a paper – not only is it a tool for finding synonyms, but it can also help spark your next line when you’re lost on how to transition.
4. Work smarter, not harder when finding sources
Personally, finding secondary sources is one of the hardest parts of writing an essay. I’ll sift through dozens of journal articles without a clue, looking for that one perfect line that somewhat backs up my main argument. However, I’ve come to realize that sources are usually summarized extremely well in the abstract, so I’ll skim over that section quickly and move on from there. Another tip I have is to use readings from a different class – many topics tend to intersect between different courses, so I can easily quote a reading I've already studied last semester.
5. Finished is better than nothing
I used to struggle a lot with perfectionism, and I would never want to begin writing an essay until I had the perfect topic, argument and evidence in place. However, as more and more work piles up near the end of the semester, I've come to realize that having a finished paper that may not be your absolute best work is still miles ahead of having a blank document. Sometimes, you just need to start to get the ideas flowing. And if you submit an assignment that isn’t perfect, that’s okay – at least you can cross it off your checklist and move on to the next one.