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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Show Me How To: write a good paper during an all-nighter

Almost every student tends to fall behind deadlines; some even wait until the night before to write their paper. There’s an even smaller fraction of people who can successfully pull off a decent grade on work done the night before.

For those who can’t pull this off, here are some tips to help you do well in that high-stress situation, should you find yourself with a limited timetable to crank out a major paper.

Step 1 Know your timeline
Make sure you know exactly when your paper is due. Is it due at the beginning of class? End of class? At noon? At midnight? Knowing the precise due date of your paper, to the minute, can help you plan your all-nighter more efficiently. For example, if your paper is due at the beginning of your 9 a.m. class, you’ll really have to hustle. However, if it’s due at 5 p.m., you may be able to relax the pace a little, but don’t get complacent.

Step 2 Know your grading rubric
It’s important to know all the requirements of your paper, from spacing to citation format to required topics and more. You don’t want to have labored for hours to have everything in perfect end-notes format, only to learn that, with your paper due in an hour, you now have to redo everything in parenthetical citation format.

Step 3 Wikipedia everything
If you have just a fuzzy grasp of the basic topic for your paper, check out your topic on Wikipedia to get a feel for the different facets of your topic. Then, go through the citations at the bottom of the page that are linked to what caught your eye in the main article. Now you have instant expert citations. But first, make sure you check that they are reliable

Step 4 Look over scholarly sources
Check out those citations and see what questions they have and haven’t answered that pertain to the topic. At the least, you can do the simplest form of a paper: a review of all the positions taken by scholars before you, capped off with a quick critique of each and an alternative addressing what you see as the biggest flaws of each. This is also where your thesis statement and main argument should be based.

Step 5 Write
Now’s the time to get the power music playlist going, grab your drink of choice, and dive in. Remember: you must make sure you’ve got a good thesis statement set before you start any of your writing. All your hard and frantic work will be useless if you don’t have a focused question to pursue. Also, know what types of quotes to look for. The two best types are those that directly support your thesis and ones you can utterly destroy with your thesis. In addition, write your works cited or bibliography page at the same time as your main paper. It’ll be much easier than going back at the end and trying to compile everything. Always assume your citations will be checked, so be accurate.

Step 6 Review and edit
How thoroughly you review your paper will vary due to time/remaining brainpower left after your all-nighter. At the very least, be sure to make sure that everything in your paper matches your thesis statement. If it doesn’t, revise your thesis statement to match what you state in your paper. Finally, spell checks and grammar checks are mandatory. At the very least, cross your fingers and have your word processor do it for you.