They tried to pull the whole “You’ll never get a perfect score” on me, but I was an official English major and I was prepared. Imagine my glee the day one such professor had to watch me walk away with an actual 100. Yes! Victory! Success! Take that evil English professors everywhere! Actually, though, this little trick got me through all of my writing classes with almost straight As. Surprisingly, the same trick applies to writing an answer to an essay exam, writing a speech, or writing a presentation.
I’ll start with a disclaimer:
- I have pretty good grammar skills in general. It took eleven years of primary school language & grammar classes and two semesters of pouring over old grammar books and re-reading the comments on my papers before I got over that hurdle, but I have become really good at editing out grammar mistakes (ergo my less than part-time job as a proofreader/editor). The trick being discussed here will not help you overcome that major issue.
The tip to writing a good paper is . . . . dun, dun, dduunn. . . the outline! No, I’m not recommending that you write out a five page, single-spaced outline with complete sentences. I’m talking about a basic half-page, couple-words per line outline. It goes something like this:
- Main Point 1
- Main Point 2
- Main Point 3
- Main Point 4 (usually not necessary in a 10-15 pg. paper–3 main points should be enough)
Add in your thesis, and fill out a short word or phrase describing the main points, and you have the basic paper/essay/speech outline. You can find explanations of each part by clicking the following links: