As a student, you know how much time, effort, and money you’ve invested in your college education. That’s why you know that making even a simple mistake in writing your coursework can cost you big time, not just in terms of grades but also in terms of the financial cost if you don’t pass a course. That’s why you need to know ten typical mistakes that students make in writing their course work and how to avoid them so you can make the most of your college education and maximize your investment.
Let’s take a look at these typical mistakes so you can avoid making them on your next paper.
- Incomplete or Missing Citations (Plagiarism I). Let’s start with the biggest mistake of all. Plagiarism is the biggest mistake the students make, and it is also the costliest. When you use other people’s words as your own without properly crediting the source, you aren’t just cheating those writers; you are also creating a situation that can cause you to fail the paper or fail the course if you are caught. Plagiarism can be avoided by properly crediting sources and placing all borrowed language in quotation marks.
- Turning in Someone Else’s Paper (Plagiarism II). Even worse than not properly citing sources is turning in someone else’s paper as your own, which is another form of plagiarism. When you borrow another student’s paper from a previous term and try handing it in as your own work, you are committing fraud and can fail the paper or the course if caught. If you need help writing a paper, use a professional coursework writing service that produces original work made to order rather than trying to pass off another student’s paper as yours.
- Not Reading the Assignment. Assignments tend to have a lot of requirements. If you don’t read carefully, you could miss the essential requirements. Use the assignment and the rubric (if applicable) to identify every requirement to make sure you hit each one.
- Summarizing Instead of Analyzing. Unless the assignment is to summarize the textbook, you need to do more than simply tell the reader what your research says. When you write your paper, it’s important to analyze and demonstrate your understanding of how your topic applies. By explaining and analyzing, you show the reader that you can do more than spit back what you read.
- Digressions. Your paper should stay on topic from beginning to end. If you wander off topic, even if the digression is interesting, it will distract from your main idea and can cost you points. Stay on topic from beginning to end and make sure your paper matches the assignment.
- Informal Style or Tone. The tone of your paper should match the type of essay. While a few papers require an informal style, such as a personal essay, most academic writing requires a formal style and a serious tone. Choosing the wrong style and tone can send the wrong message a create a bad impression.
- Slang and Text-Speak. Formal writing involves formal grammar, spelling, and punctuation in addition to style and tone. Avoid slang, abbreviations, and text-speak. A surprising number of students now write academic essays with texting abbreviations like “LOL,” “thru,” etc. Use full words and complete English sentences.
- Improper Formatting. Formatting is probably at the bottom of your list of priorities when it comes to creating a great paper, but many instructors are sticklers for formatting. Carefully review your paper’s required formatting style, such as APA and MLA, to ensure that you have formatted correctly. That way you can make sure you don’t leave easy points on the table.
- Not Editing. Sure, most papers are written with only minutes to spare before the deadline, but this can create a huge problem if you don’t have time to edit your work. Rough drafts often have major errors, confusing writing, and other problems that can easily be corrected if you take even twenty or thirty minutes to reread your paper after it’s done to catch these errors.
- Waiting to the Last Minute. While we’re on the subject, waiting until the last minute is a major risk factor for a bad essay. Trying to cram a paper into too little time increases the risk of sloppy writing, incomplete analysis, plagiarism, and overall poor writing. Leave yourself enough time to do a good job, and your time management skills will be reflected in an improved essay performance.
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