Final exams are approaching, and you all probably have a lot of huge papers to write the night before they’re due. Some professors are difficult, and just a few grammatical errors can make the difference between an A and a B. Luckily for you, I’m an experienced tutor, and I’m here to give you the absolute laziest tips I know of. Well, other than cheating, but then you’re either getting an A on someone else’s paper, or getting expelled:
1. Proofread with Google Translate.
Copy/paste your paper into the Google Translate window for English. You’re not actually going to translate it. You’re going to use the speaker button. It will read your paper out loud to you, so you can catch all the the mitsakes you mad.
Try it now with the previous sentence. Trust me.
2. Play teacher.
Print out your paper just like you would if you were about to hand it in, but this isn’t actually your final copy. Get out a red pen and grade your own paper the way you think your professor will. This will help you see from a different perspective than staring at a bright screen, hunting for errors in vain only to find them minutes before turning it in.
3. Give it to a friend to review.
Do you have that bossy, know-it-all friend who loves correcting everyone constantly? If they’re good at English, you may finally have a use for them. Even if you don’t, helping others makes people feel good. Someone will proofread your paper for you.
4. Use generators for the title and citations pages.
Don’t know what words you’re supposed to capitalize in a title? There’s a website that will do it for you.
Do you find citations tedious? Thanks to Citation Machine, all you need to do is copy/ paste. It works for both APA and MLA.
Are you short by a few citations? Check a relevant Wikipedia article. Just scroll down to References, and a good page will have plenty of them already in a professional format. Just remember, some editors use MLA, some use APA. Make sure you know what the differences are before you copy and paste it.
5. Make it sound like you know what you’re talking about, even though you probably don’t.
A seasoned teacher can tell when you’re just full of hot air. Don’t overuse the same word or use elementary level words; it’s boring and it will make you sound sophomoric. It may help to use a thesaurus. Just be sure not to use a gigantic word in the middle of the paper if it throws off the consistency of your tone; to rephrase, don’t use a word that the teacher will know you looked up to make yourself sound smart.
“JK Rowling is a good writer, but at first a lot of publishers said her book was bad.“ Why did the publishers say it was bad? How good is she? At first what? This sentence is vague and simplistic, and it doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.
“JK Rowling is a good writer, but at first a lot of publishers said her book was floccinaucinihilipilification.“ This sentence is so simplistic that it sounds like a kindergartner wrote– Oh my god, what the fuck is floccinaucinihilipilification?!
“JK Rowling is now a highly respected writer, but at the start of her career, Harry Potter was rejected by twelve publishers.” This sentence is far more specific, and offers more substance. It says what was rejected and how many publishers rejected it. Rather than saying she was ‘good,’ this sentence provides an unbiased statement. Some teachers take away points for opinions in a research paper, so it’s better safe than sorry.
Bonus: Now for the thing I know you were all hoping I’d give you: Legitimate ways to make your paper look longer.
I’m not going to help you cheat, because your instructor will know instantly. (S)he may not point it out, but (s)he’ll know. Don’t try to stretch out your sentences with unnecessary clauses. You need to be concise to write a good paper. Remember, length is only part of the grade. Everything I write tends to be too long anyway, so maybe you can learn from my #1 shortcoming.
1. Describe everything in detail. As a general rule, don’t bring anything up if you’re not prepared to explain it.
2. Don’t just avoid weasel words; beat them to death. Don’t write “studies show.” Write “According to a [year] study lead by [supervisor] at [probably a university], [summary of experiment.] [Details and methods of experiment.] [Conclusion of experiment.] [in text citation] [What that means.] [transition to next paragraph that explains in detail how it’s relevant.] That will give you an extra 150 words at That’s what, ⅔ of a page, double-spaced?
3. Don’t skimp on the thesis statement. If you’re having a hard time, think of it as a way of foreshadowing the rest of your paper. One or two sentences doesn’t cut it.
4. If you’re writing about a book that you had to read and you’re out of ideas, look up the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Other people will notice things you missed. But don’t plagiarize! Then again, if you’re desperate enough to plagiarize a Goodreads review, you’re probably screwed anyway.
5. Hit all the main points until they’re black and blue. I always start with an outline to make sure I don’t forget anything I want to bring up. You’re trying to make it longer, after all.
That’s all I have to say for now. I’ve never gotten less than an A on anything I wrote while sober, (My drunk, last minute Born to Run “analysis” did not impress the professor) so I assure you that this works every time. Good luck with your final.