Five things to check before you hand in an essay

After you’ve poured hours into crafting the perfect essay to impress your college professor, you naturally want to submit it as soon as you can and move on to the next assignment. However, when you’re on a roll with your writing and the words are flowing, it’s easy to overlook some pretty classic essay mistakes.

Before you turn in your paper, there are a few things you should check to make sure it accurately reflects your knowledge and abilities.

  1. Is it formatted correctly?

When your professor gave you the assignment, it likely included a specific set of instructions to guide the structure and formatting of the paper. This the simplest way you can show your instructor that you’re taking the class seriously and that you’re willing to put in the work to succeed – and it ensures that you won’t lose any marks over something trivial.

  1. Are your sources properly cited?

The instructions from your professor should also explain how to reference your work, which will require you to list the title, date, publisher, and more from any source you use. Plagiarism doesn’t just mean copying off someone else – something as simple as improperly citing a source can get you in some serious trouble. Even if you are paraphrasing, make sure you include your references.

This is also a good time to double check any of the facts and figures cited in your paper. It’s easy to add or drop a zero off the end of a number, or switch around digits to completely warp the information you’re presenting. Take a few minutes to confirm that you’ve got it right.

  1. Have you proofread your paper?

Your word processor’s spellcheck is great at catching things like typos, but there are tons of easy mistakes that spellcheck misses. Verb tense, pronouns, missing words, repetition, homophones, and wrong words will slip right through the cracks – so you’ll need to take a bit more time to carefully read through your paper and catch these errors on your own.

  1. Does your paper have a solid thesis statement?

The thesis statement is arguably the most important part of your essay. This is where you try to focus all of the ideas in your paper into one or two sentences to give your readers an idea of what the paper is about – and your position on the essay topic. Your thesis statement should be at the end of your introductory paragraph, and will guide the reader into the body of your paper where you will argue the position presented in your thesis.

  1. Is your conclusion strong?

The goal of your paper should be to convince readers that your argument is valid and supported – you don’t want to end with a weak, boring conclusion. You also need to make sure that your conclusion isn’t just a rephrasing of your introduction.

Use the key words of your thesis, along with a brief summation of your evidence, to make a final statement that will solidify your position to readers. Make it powerful enough that readers finish your paper feeling satisfied and informed.

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