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A Guide to Planning & Writing Final Papers

Many university students, even upper years, still find themselves leaving final papers to the last minute. Procrastinating and spending stressful hours before the due date, attempting to get the words onto paper. During this process, many university students find themselves disorganized, leading their essays to be unplanned and lack cohesion with little time to make the fixes needed. Not only is this strategy extraordinarily stressful and anxiety-inducing, but it is also detrimental to the quality of a paper, which will most likely serve as a large portion of a course’s grade.

If this experience resonated with you, the following steps will hopefully help you prepare for your final papers this semester. Moreover, these tips should also help alleviate the extreme stress leading up to your assignment’s submission deadline. 

Step 1: Choose a Topic

The first thing you should do when preparing to write a final paper is to choose the topic you would like to write about. It is often best to select a topic that interests you but can also effectively align with the assignment requirements and course content. It is also essential to start this stage at least a month, if not earlier, before the deadline. 

Step 2: Create a Working Thesis

After identifying a topic, create a working thesis. This means creating a clear thesis on which your paper will be based; however, understand that this thesis may change or be altered slightly after further research is conducted. 

Step 3: Research Topic

With that being said, the next step is to research your topic. Remember while researching to keep organized. When finding useful sources, be sure to save them in one place. To help yourself further, write a sentence or two about each source so that you don’t have to scavenge for information later. 

Step 4: Solidify Thesis

After all of your sources are located, you can now solidify your thesis. Do this by understanding how all the sources you found will be used to lead the readers of your paper to the conclusion. 

Step 5: Plan Essay Outline

One of the most critical steps of writing a long final paper, and the one that is most often forgotten, is to plan and outline your essay before you start writing. To do this, outline each section of your paper, the main points you want to cover in your writing and how many words or pages each section should take.

Step 6: Write Essay

After the first five steps are completed, you can now start writing your essay. With the effective planning and preparation completed from earlier steps, this section should not be that challenging. Work through your outline and fill in the points you planned to cover, all linking to your solidified thesis. 

Step 7: Edit

The second last step in this guide to writing final papers is to edit. Ensure that while editing you read over your essay multiple times, ideally getting second eyes to read through it as well. Moreover, if needed, use external resources such as your school’s writing centre, Grammarly or your professor. 

Step 8: Submit

You can finally submit your paper!

Hopefully, you can write a high-quality final essay while being less stressed by using these eight steps. Just remember to plan ahead and work on your paper in stages. This is not supposed to be an overnight process!

Nicole Clyde

Wilfrid Laurier '22

Nicole is a third-year student at Wilfrid Laurier University working towards an Honours BA in Global Studies with a Concentration in Peace and Conflict and a Minor in Philosophy. While she is not studying you can usually find her walking her dog, cooking, or at the gym.
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