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Making Your Academic Essay Fit the Mold Students beginning college should be able to write a good essay, using a typical outline format. Here are a few tips to get the job done right. College professors expect students to have a general understanding of essay writing when they arrive on campus. In order to avoid poor grades and stressful nights of furious writing, take the time to get a grip on the fundamental procedure of essay writing. Below are some basic writing guidelines for formatting and writing the perfect essay. Basic Essay Outline For most academic writing, the format is simple. It does not matter whether a student uses MLA, APA, Chicago Style, or anything else. That’s really a matter of notating sources correctly. The most important part of an essay is relaying the required subject matter in an orderly and understandable manner. Typically, an essay should contain these items, in this order: Introduction – This paragraph contains a brief outline or introduction to the subject matter at hand. The final sentence of the intro paragraph should be a thesis statement, summarizing all the things you will be discussing in the essay. (For example: “17th century Irishmen, using the example of the American and French revolutionists, were able to gain some political leverage through political upheaval and agrarian violence.” Body – This portion of the essay varies in size. Essentially, each topic broached in the thesis statement deserves at least its own paragraph. This really depends on the essay length, though. For longer essays, a more detailed amount of space may be required. (For example: With the thesis statement presented above, one might write about what influence the American and French revolutions had on Ireland, the “political upheaval” and the agrarian violence. Conclusion – This paragraph should be the summation of everything. Restate the thesis, but in a different manner. It is perfectly fine to be repetitive here, because it seals in the point. (For example: “The Irish of the 1600s used military tactics to maneuver governing policies.”) Things to Remember A good academic-length paragraph is typically five to seven sentences. This makes each section easy to visually process. Paragraphs of this length are also less daunting to read and understand. Site your sources. In this day in age, pulling papers off the Internet is becoming an unfortunate trend in academia. Doing your own research and giving where credit where credit is due saves you the hassle of an academic review and possible suspension or expulsion. Spell check everything before turning it in. Computer programs catch things that are not words, but they will not see things like using “it” instead of “is.” Read over the paper quickly before printing it off just to be sure there are no blatantly silly mistakes marring your efforts.
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