What is a Term Paper and How to Write It?

You’ve been sitting in this class for 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 weeks now. You’ve heard lecture after lecture, taken all the proper notes, listened to all the supplementary podcasts, and still you find yourself sweating it out as the semester draws to a close. Why? Why should this be the case?

Two words: term paper.

Those two words have been the bane of many a college student’s existence. It can be one of the greatest hurdles to a passing grade in a class.

But what, exactly, is a term paper, and how can you write one that’ll have you passing the class with flying colors?

Term Papers Analyzed

Simply put, a term paper is an essay—but a very particular kind of essay at that. It’s a way of measuring what you have learned over the course of the semester, and seeing if you can apply the knowledge that you’ve gathered and put it to practical use by utilizing critical thinking and writing skills in a concentrated and concise manner. In other words, it’s the ultimate test to see who’s been paying attention in class, who’s learned what, and who’s capable of original thought.

That’s the part that most students miss when it comes to the topic of term papers. It’s not merely regurgitating what you’ve taken notes on all semester (though admittedly there are some poorer professors that prefer this.) Rather, it’s a way of taking what you’ve learned and putting it to the test, making use of the greatest tool you have available to you—your own mind—and seeing just how much you’ve been able to sharpen that tool over the course of this class.

So How Do I Write a Good Term Paper?

First, you want to make sure that you’re good and relaxed before writing—no good writing comes from a student that’s tense and overly-uncertain. Next, you’re going to want to look through your notes. If you’re the type of person that does better with an outline, by all means go ahead and make one to get organized. When you start writing your term paper, you’re going to want to write down everything you can think of during the brainstorming session.

Above all, make absolutely sure that you have time to edit your paper. You’re not going to want to turn in a paper with any silly typos or easily-fixed problems that’ll cost you points! Furthermore, it’s in the editing process that truly great term papers are forged, as this is when you get a chance to really refine your ideas and make them stand out all the clearer.