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Writing term papers: think like a professor

The old adage about walking a mile in another person’s shoes is useful when it comes to term paper writing. When you do any of the work on your term paper, from planning and drafting, to editing and revising, you should try to put yourself in your professor’s mind. By doing this, you will be able to make decisions about your paper that will help you earn a good grade. Unfortunately, most students have not been professors, so they do not know how to think like a professor. Here are a few tips:

Question everything.

Professors are in the business of asking questions. As you develop your term paper, constantly ask yourself these questions:

  • Why am I writing this?
  • How do I know this?
  • Who cares?

If you cannot answer the questions, then you should consider editing.

Think about your reputation.

Professors are constantly compared to each other. If one professor gives out too many A’s, then the other professors might question the rigor of the lessons and assessments. This means that some students might deserve A’s, but they may not receive them. Professors will compare student papers in order to only give A’s to the absolute best. Be sure you are the best.

Question what your students have learned.

Professors do not want to see their students regurgitate information, they want to see unique thoughts. When you write your term paper, you should always include the facts, but you need to really focus on what those facts taught you about yourself and the world around you.

Consider time restraints.

Sure, every professor would love to spend significant time with every term paper, but there is not time for this. Unfortunately, it means that many term papers do not get as much attention as students might think they do. If you (the student) do not follow the formatting that your professor requires, then your professor will already start to knock down your grade. No professor wants to waste precious time critiquing formatting when they could be spending time on the content of the term paper instead.

Get irritated by stupid mistakes.

Professors expect their students to know the differences between there, their, and they’re. They expect their students to know not to start a sentence with a number, rather than a word. Those little errors add up quickly and your professor will lower your grade, even if you have ideas that could change the world.


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