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How To Get That Sweet, Sweet “A+” On An Essay

Asianus Goodgradus, Contributor

As the semester draws to an end, you will undoubtedly be scrambling to finish up (or start) your essays. If you’re a Humanities student this is definitely crunch time, as you will have anywhere between two to five essays due in the next couple of weeks. If you were just planning to pull a couple of all-nighters to type up ten pages of bullshit, I would definitely recommend against this tactic. This is the University of Toronto: you actually have to work to get your grades. Below is a timeline that will help you turn your third-rate, last-minute essay into an A+ paper:

  1. 3-4 weeks to due date: Get all your sources (books) from Robarts and start reading. Read each and every one of the books from cover to cover. You just might fall upon some new tidbit that you can tie into your thesis. Instead of noting important points with Post-Its, just type up direct quotes into a Word document along with the page number, book title, author, etc. Trust me, this will make your essay write up much easier to handle.
  2. 2-3 weeks to due date: Arrange to speak to your professor/TA regarding your essay topic at least 2-3 weeks before the due date. This will ensure that your topic is relevant. You might even receive some extra guidance if your prof is feeling nice. Also, set up an appointment with the Woodsworth Writing Centre for the week before due date. The people at the Centre will make sure you don’t receive any demerit points for formatting and grammar issues.
  3. 1-2 weeks to due date:  Write multiple drafts. Like three or four.  If you don’t have a lot of time, write at least one draft. Get someone to peer-edit this preliminary version at least a few days before the due date. If it’s two weeks before the due date and you’ve already finished your second draft, see if your prof will consider reading it. Not a lot of students do this, so he/she will appreciate your preparation and hard work, and give you some pointers. However, if you just wrote up some crap the night before, don’t bother wasting his/her time. Profs have a special radar for half-assed papers, and if your draft looks like you just dragged your ham fist over the keyboard until the page was filled, they’ll probably mark your real paper with an existing bias.
  4. 1 week to due date: Go over your final draft and make whatever necessary changes.  Also, don’t print your essay last minute. Professors hate it when students come to class late on the day the essay is due. Just print your essay the night before, read over it to check for typos and print a new copy if necessary.

Hopefully these pointers will help you during the next few stressful weeks. If this article has reached you too late and you already submitted shoddy papers, you’re screwed. Good luck, and plan better for next semester.


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