How to Write a Quick A Paper

Every college student at one point or another will be faced with writing a paper.  Even the mathematicians have to go through general education courses and end up writing papers about literature or world events or what have you.  Getting an A on a paper might not be much to brag to your friends and family about (or it is…) but what if you told them it only took you half the time to write it?

It is possible to write an amazing paper in a short period of time.  The key?  Be a genius of course.  Okay, but seriously the everyday person can write a paper that will blow your professor away if you go about it right.

Okay, get ready because I am about to blow your mind here: do you remember back in high school English how your teacher gave you all those little assignments leading up to the big paper?  If you never had a teacher who did this, I am truly apologetic because although those teachers pushed you and you hated them for it, what they were forcing you to do does do a world of good if you carry the concepts they taught into college.

The best way to write an A paper in a short time frame is… prepare, prepare, prepare.  The more work you put into preparing for your paper, the easier it will be to write, plain and simple.

At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself that the time it takes you to prepare for the paper is just as long or even longer than writing the actual paper.  Oh contraire my friend.  If you take an hour to make an outline detailing the structure of your paper, writing your thesis, figuring out what the paragraphs will be about, maybe plug in the facts you are going to use and throw in your topic sentences, the paper is essentially written.  If you have a detailed outline in front of you, it will take you a fraction of the time to write your paper because you will know what you need to do and don’t have to make up the structure as you go along.  By doing it without an outline, you usually end up stuck on what to write about next then start to procrastinate, right?  Or, you realize how much your paper stinks and how it isn’t by any means enjoyable to write?  Chances are, if it isn’t enjoyable to write it will not be enjoyable to read resulting in a bad grade.  I’m not about to say that writing an outline is a super fun thing to do (unless you’re an English or communications nerd and love to write), but it will make the process of getting to that final result much smoother.

Need some other tips on avoiding procrastination?  Check out this post Kill The Procrastination Beast.


I’m reading Gardner’s Art Through the Ages

Never Pull an All-Nighter Again (unless you want to)

The All-Nighter:  a panic and caffeine-fueled attempt to cobble together an acceptable academic document such as an essay, lab report, or problem set.  Usually directly followed by The Mad Dash to wherever said document is due.

If you are entering freshman year or are a chronic procrastinator, this post is for you.  You cannot write a quality paper in one night.  It’s just not going to happen. If you were here in person I would grab your face and squeeze your cheeks together like that aunt you avoid at family gatherings, look deeply into your wonderfully naive eyes and tell you not to sell yourself short like that.  OK?  They sound romantic and so…college, I hear you.  But it’s like trying to lose ten pounds in a day.  You’re not going to reach your goal and you’ll feel like crap the next day.  Shaky anxiety from too much caffeine and falling behind on everything else in life does not have to be part of your college experience, nor do you have to spend all your time in the library.  Here’s how:

If you have time to get schoolwork done during the day, use it.  Nighttime is full of distractions.  All your friends are out of class, meal times run long, better TV shows are on.  You get the point, the list is endless.

When it comes to writing a paper, give yourself ten hours for a 3-5 pager, double that for a 10-pager, and so on.  If you use a calendar like Google or Ical (which I highly recommend), use those time guidelines as a rule of thumb and give yourself a day as a cushion.  Any more than that is unrealistic if you’re a procrastinator.

One thing I try to avoid is scheduling huge blocks of time devoted to writing.  It sets you up for dread and procrastination.  Everyone operates differently, though.  Pay attention to how you are most productive and use that to your advantage on your next big project.  Also key is working out the finer points of your paper while doing mundane tasks.  Whether that’s making your drive/walk to class every morning, or cleaning your Superhero figurine collection (I’m not judging, I swear).  Keeping your paper on the backburner of your brain will keep you from pulling an all-nighter.

One last thing, and I realize this is oddly specific and personal but it took me a while to figure out and might help you, too.  I find that sometimes a cup of calming tea is better than coffee or energy drinks to write.  It gets you out of “HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO GET SOMETHING ON PAPER OR I’M GOING TO FAIL” mode to an “okay, let’s take this one step at a time” mindset.

Still having problems writing that “A” paper?  Coming soon…. How To Write a Paper So Wickedly Fantastic Your Professor Will Try to Pass it Off As His Own Kids’.  The length of that title was completely necessary, thanks for asking.



I’m reading Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function