Preparing for a timed writing assignment or essay exam?
Practice analyzing essay questions:
Compare and contrast the wet tropics and the wet-dry tropics. Give examples of each.
How did the Reformation affect the political structure of Western Europe? Pay particular attention to the economic and educational results of the Reformation.
Analyze the causes of the American Civil War.
Christopher Lasch has criticized American society as a “culture of narcissism.” Explain what Lasch means by this term and write an essay in which you agree or disagree with this assessment.
What event in your life told you that you were no longer a child but an adult? Discuss.
Academic writing is formulaic. This means you must organize and present information in a way that conforms to readers' expectations. Argumentative essays, personal narratives, research proposals, literary analyses, and lab reports all conform to specific conventions. Your job as a student is to learn the formula.
Read samples. Request samples from your instructor, ask a librarian to help you find published examples, search online for examples, or visit the Writers' Center and ask a Responder to point you toward resources.
Sketch outlines of these samples and use those outlines as rough blueprints for the structure of your paper. Studying another's work for guidance about organization and style is not plagiarism. The ideas are yours; the structure is borrowed. This is how you learn to talk the talk.
WARNING: Never copy the samples word for word.
Example formula for an argumentative paper:
Example formula for a research project:
The bad news: If you have brilliant ideas, but do not conform to the academic formula, you will probably be unsuccessful.
The good news: Samples are everywhere. All writers can conform to academic expectations. Seek and ye shall find.
Good luck, scholars!