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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Writing assignments can be daunting for a college student especially for a freshman who is new to the college world. Every professor seems to want something different and has high expectations for what a writing assignment should look like, and trying to navigate this can be overwhelming. As a TA who grades writing assignments every week, I am here to give you some pointers on how to please the people grading your papers and to hopefully succeed on any writing assignment thrown your way. 

a hand holds a pen writing on sheets of paper on a wooden desk. there\'s a coffee cup and a notebook in front of it.
Free-Photos | Pixabay

1. Read the prompt

You’d think this would be a really obvious tip, but you would be surprised how many people just don’t do what the prompt tells them to do. Too many times I have had a student turn in a paper that just totally missed the mark; not because they are dumb or because they weren’t willing to put in the work, it’s usually because they were just going to fast and trying to get the assignment out of the way so they missed. I once had a kid turn in a paper that was supposed to be a response to an article by an author that we had read from before in the class, and instead of reading the article posted in the assignment, this student saw the author’s name and recognized it from the article we read earlier in the semester and wrote their paper about that article without a second thought. Don’t be this person; read the prompt. 


2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

We as students can’t always know exactly what our professors are looking for when it comes to writing assignments because they all seem to be seeking something different. If you find yourself in a situation where you just don’t know how to go about an assignment, reach out! Your professors and TAs are here for you, and hopefully, if they have gone into this line of work they have your best interest at heart. Don’t be afraid to ask for an example or to clarify any questions you may have because a good teacher will be rooting for you and will be happy to help. If more of the students I grade just asked questions when they were stuck, they could save themselves so much hassle and make my grading job a whole lot easier. If it’s going to help you get a better grade on the assignment and in the class, it’s definitely worth asking, so do it. 


3. Let the creative juices flow

This may not be something you can do on all of your assignments, but tell you what as a TA, if I come across a paper that is unique and I can tell a bit about the student as a person just from reading their writing and how they sound, I am much more likely to give them a good grade. Your TA doesn’t want to read a whole class worth of the same cookie-cutter paper that is addressing the same prompt. We would much rather see your creativity and character spill onto the page. Have fun with your assignment, and don’t be afraid to go a little out of the box; it is more fun for us to read and definitely more fun for you to write! If you feel like you have the type of professor or assignment that would appreciate some creativity, give it a shot! I have been known to give students extra credit for their creativity, so you should try it! It could pay off in a major way!


4. Don’t write filler

Have you ever written a paper and you just didn’t feel like you were going to meet the page requirements, so you added a big header with your name, the professor, the class, and the date in double-spaced format to save you some writing? Or have you ever bumped up the font size and style to try to get you a few extra pages? Yeah, I’m gonna tell you a secret. You’re not fooling anybody. In fact, you are just shining a light on the fact that you are trying to cover for just how little you wrote. When I come across a paper with a big header or a strangely big font, I can already tell that nine out of ten times they aren’t going to get full points because they just didn’t write enough. Save yourself and your TA some time and just ditch writing the big header or playing with the font, and instead, use that time to add an extra sentence or two. I promise it will do you more good. 


5. Aim for quality

For most writing assignments, try not to focus too hard on the page number requirement. I know this can be a difficult thing to do since a lot of us have been taught to check off the boxes for an assignment and then turn it in for a good grade, but you should really aim for quality over quantity. Don’t just write four pages of fluff and turn it in. Focus on addressing everything asked of you in the prompt, and go from there. If you need to add some fluff because your professor is strict about page quantity, do it, but otherwise, just focus on writing something substantive. For a 2 page assignment, I have had students turn in 3 pages of fluff and get very little points, and I have had students turn in 1 page that addresses everything in the prompt to get full points. Be the latter kid. I believe in you. Also, if you are pressed for time and just trying to get the assignment in on time, let me tell you a secret: most professors are pretty understanding, and if you find yourself nearing the deadline, you should write something quality and turn it in 2 hours late rather than turning in fluffy nonsense on time. This is not true for all teachers, but most will be understanding, and if your work is really great they will have a hard time giving you a zero. 


6. Make it an interesting read

This is without a doubt the most important tip I could give you. Make your paper interesting and fun to read. DO NOT write a super blocky paragraph that is dry and boring. Nobody wants to read that, and nobody wants to grade that. Break it up, add some paragraphs, make it easily consumed, and don’t give your TA an ulcer when they click on you to grade your assignment. If you can, make it fun to read too! Add in some humor, get creative with it, be dramatic, be interesting, be you! If you have fun writing the assignment, your TA is likely to enjoy reading it, and you will probably get a good grade! Everyone is happy! 

woman sitting at laptop
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I hope these tips help you tackle your future writing assignments with a little more ease, and honestly, I hope some of the students I am a TA for read this article. These corrections definitely make my job easier as the person who reads and grades their paper. Just remember to have fun with your assignments and put some heart into it. If you are doing that, you can’t go wrong. Good luck!


Ry Iverson is a transgender sociology alum of the University of Utah. He grew up in Apple Valley, California and moved to Utah to be closer to family. He enjoys listening to music, reading, cooking, drawing, traveling, and helping others. He enjoys writing about his favorite TV shows, cooking, LGBTQ experiences, and advice, and in his free time he can be found laying on the ground outside taking in the world. Enjoy Ry's articles and everything he has to offer!
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor