Written assignments can prove to be challenging because you have to present your argument in a clear, logical and compelling manner. After all, academic writing is done by scholars for scholars, which only makes it even more daunting.

If you’re struggling with your assignment and need some academic paper writing help, read on and learn how to write a “Grade A” academic paper.

What is an academic paper

Academic paper or essay is a type of academic writing that presents information as well as the writer’s opinion. Your job is to explain, assess and comment on a specific topic of study in the form of an essay. In other words, you need to present an informed argument; based on something you know instead of something you think.

The purpose of academic papers to evaluate your comprehension of the material as well as to improve your writing skills. Your goals are to show that you have a solid understanding of the topic at hand, and to share your own thoughts, ideas and opinions about a scientific question or a problem.

To write a good academic paper, you need to demonstrate your critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze complex information. Prove your standpoint with compelling evidence, and you’re well on your way to becoming a master essay writer.

Academic paper vs research paper

Academic papers (essays) are quite different from the research papers. Although both have a similar purpose, to assess student’s understanding of the subject, and both have to follow specific writing rules, there are many distinctions you need to be aware of.

Main differences between academic paper vs research paper, are:

Academic paper

  • Present your own standpoint based on information
  • Short in length (typically 5 paragraphs)
  • Helps build your writing skills by presenting your ideas in a logical and coherent way
  • Essays are typically descriptive, personal, persuasive, critical, etc.
  • Provide unique arguments, opinions, viewpoints, information, or ideas
  • It takes readers into account (who they are, what their opinion might be, etc.)
  • The writing should be well-organized, coherent and supported by appropriate facts and examples.

Research paper

  • Research and express others’ point of view, but also include your own ideas and insights
  • Long in length (usually 8 pages or more)
  • Requires in-depth research and a comprehensive understanding of the topic
  • Helps build your knowledge, research, and analytical skills
  • You should compare multiple resources and present a cumulative overview of the findings
  • Provide facts, statistics, figures, and data
  • The writing should be structured and presented from your point of view including citations from research that support your analysis

Academic papers and research papers also differ in structure and format.

For both types of academic assignments use objective language; avoid personal pronouns such as “I,” “you,” etc., and use formal language (no slang, contractions, colourful words such as “amazing” or “terrible”).

So, before you get to writing consider the type of assignment you have and the requirements for your specific paper.

What makes a good academic essay

A good academic essay should engage readers and spark their curiosity and interest. You can do so by taking a firm stance (opinion) and defending it with persuasive arguments. Use critical thinking to make your essay stand out and win a high grade.

Here are 11 tips on how to write a good academic essay:

  1. Define the goal of your essay – Make sure you have a clear purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish with your essay. Are you trying to be informative, controversial, entertaining, analytical?! Understand your topic question and present your idea in an easy to understand way.
  2. Consider your audience (readers) – Think about who is going to read your paper (most likely your professor and classmates). Consider what they might know about the topic, what’s their opinion then figure out how to reach them. Try to capture your readers’ attention and engage them with your ideas.
  3. Have a clear standpoint – Take your stance, determine whether you’re for or against something. Establish your unique perspective and a confident statement that relates to the topic. Choose a standpoint that reflects your actual option, that allows you to be sincere and be confident without any doubts.
  4. Consider your structure and flow – It’s essential that your essay follows a logical structure. This will help you stay focused and answer all important questions. Each section, paragraph, and sentence should support you’re the main argument. Ensure that all parts of your essay fit together as a cohesive and logical whole. Make every transition from one argument to the next fluid and logical.
  5. Have a single focus – Be clear and concise; make sure that every sentence and paragraph supports your main argument. Don’t beat around the bush and avoid unnecessary digression that doesn’t support the main idea.
  6. Follow writing standards – Make sure your academic paper is formatted in line with the requirements of one of the specific citation styles (APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.) that determine the rules for in-text citations, paper sections, format, reference list.
  7. Use appropriate tone and style – Make sure that your essay is readable, that won’t get your professors bored. Use the proper tone and style that matches your topic. Watch for personal and gendered pronouns. Avoid grammar and style errors which can make your paper hard to read.
  8. Provide clear and complete explanations – Explain your ideas in a clear and understandable way. Presenting your arguments well is half of the work, so make sure that everything you say has a purpose and helps readers understand your point as well as why you think that way.
  9. Reference your sources – Be sure to do solid research before you start writing. This research will help you form your opinion but also provide evidence that backs up your argument. You need to integrate source materials into your essay. Include all sources (books, articles from a scientific journal, publications, online resources, etc.) that you cite, introduce, analyze or explain on a reference list in the bibliography page.
  10. Use your own words – Form your own unique opinion and use your own words to describe it. Don’t just repeat or summarize what someone else said; a great academic paper needs to present your own thoughts and opinions.
  11. Ensure to format your essay properly–Format plays an important role in the evaluation process of your academic paper. Make sure to format your work according to requirements and guidelines related to your assignment.

How to write a “Grade A” academic paper

Now that you understand what makes a good academic essay, here is a step-by-step guide on how you can write a “Grade A” academic paper.

1. Select the right topic

Sometimes your professor might assign a specific topic, while other times you have full freedom to pick the topic on your own.

Make sure you select a topic that interests you! That way it will be much easier to write as you probably already know a lot about this topic and you may already have some sort of an opinion.

Avoid very broad topics like “global warming,”instead narrow down your subject such as “impact of renewable energy on global warming.”

It would be ideal if you can form a topic question, like: “can switching to renewable energy reduce global warming?”

By transforming your topic into a question, you can define a clear goal for your essay that grabs readers’ attention.

2. Brainstorm ideas

Now that you have your essay topic think about what stance you want to take. Consider what you want to say with your work.

Take note of the following few things about your topic:

  • What you know
  • What you don’t know
  • What information do you need to collect
  • What seems important about this subject
  • How other things relate to this topic
  • What you think about it
  • What conclusions could be drawn

Make a list of all the relevant information about your topic and move on to the next step.

3. Create a time schedule with deadlines

To stay organized, make a plan with a detailed schedule and deadlines. Set up a foolproof writing system on how you’re going to:

  • research the topic,
  • take notes,
  • outline/organize,
  • write your first draft,
  • revise,
  • edit and proofread.

Make sure to plan your timeline with dates to help you stay on schedule and meet the deadline.

4. Conduct thorough research

Once you have your writing system set up, it’s time to do some research. And the first step is to find your sources.

You can search the BISON catalogue for books, journals and other material in the university libraries’ collections and search NETDOC databases for journal citations, full-text resources, abstracts, etc.

Gather several different viewpoints which can help you form your own opinion, but also to defend well.

Remember always to take notes during research to serve as reminders later on.

5. Establish a strong thesis statement

Now it’s time to form your own thesis statement which is the idea you need to prove, defend, or expand on in your paper.

This is the main idea of your entire academic paper, so make sure you take your time on taking the right stance. Consider the following:

  1. What you want to say
  2. To whom you’re saying it (your readers)
  3. What your readers are likely to think
  4. Can you defend your stance
  5. What arguments can support your thesis
  6. How you need to structure your essay to build your case

Make sure your thesis statement reflects your true opinion, one which you can defend with confidence and build a compelling case.

6. Create a detailed outline

With a clear thesis statement in place, it’s time to write an outline for your essay.

Having a detailed outline will help you tremendously. It can guide you through the writing process, helping you know how to start, what to say and when to say it, and how to finish your essay. Then it’s only a matter of filling the gaps with content.

Have a distinct introduction, body and conclusion sections. Good advice to writing an outline is to “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.”

For even better results outline every paragraph, all discussion points, supporting arguments, citations, etc.

7. Write your first draft

The next step is to write your first draft. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you need to put your ideas and thoughts on paper.
Follow your outline and fill it in with content and information.

Start with a short introduction that grabs attention and describes what the essay is about. Give your readers a good reason to continue reading. Don’t forget to include your thesis statement and enough background information as well in your intro.

The body should contain several paragraphs depending on the requirements and purpose of your essay. Make sure that your paragraphs are not too long and that each one is focused on a single thought.

Now is the time to develop your thesis statement to control, focus and direct the entire paper. State your position clearly and back it up with supporting arguments. Make sure it fits your introduction and also anticipate your conclusion.

Write a brief conclusion to summarize all that’s been said in the intro and the body. Make sure to rephrase your thesis statement and leave your readers with something to think about.

8. Revise your work

Once you have your first draft complete, you need to revise it and check if you can make it even better. Follow these tips for a perfect revision:

  • Set your paper aside for a few days to let your mind reorganize
  • Read the paper aloud to identify any weaknesses in reasoning and structure
  • Have your friends or classmates read and comment on your draft
  • Consider what could be added to strengthen arguments and make connections
  • Check if everything is related well and supports your main idea
  • Double check all the requirements from your teacher and make sure you didn’t miss anything
  • Check for mistakes

9. Edit and proofread your essay

Now it’s time to edit your work and make the necessary improvements. The goal of editing is to make your essay clearer, concise and precise to ensure that your readers will be able to understand it.

Check for details like:

  • repetitive words,
  • grammar mistakes,
  • using inappropriate words,
  • passive voice,
  • improve your flow and connections between ideas,
  • check your citations and references,
  • trim down your sentences, etc.

Make sure your work is clear, your ideas are supported by facts and evidence, you give credit to your sources, and your essay is error-free.
Finally, you’re ready to submit your academic paper and get that A+.

How to format your academic paper

The format is another key thing to take into account when writing a good academic paper.

In general, an academic essay consists of 3 sections and 5 paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

  1. Intro – The main goal of your introduction is to introduce the topic and reveal the main thesis statement.
  2. Body – Your body paragraphs’ primary task is to defend the thesis with 3 sub-arguments(1 for each paragraph).It’s a good idea to start each paragraph with a topic sentence to clarify the purpose. Provide clear evidence that backs your thesis and addresses any counter-claims when necessary. This way you can proactively respond to any opposing arguments before they even arise.For “Grade A” writing ensure that ends and beginnings of paragraphs work together to create a transition between ideas.
  3. Conclusion – Finally, use the conclusion wrap up the entire argument and leave a strong impression in the form of an overall concluding statement.

Academic papers typically use 12 point Times New Roman font with double spacing and one-inch margins all around. Every paragraph begins with an indentation of five spaces (pressing the TAB key).

Lastly, make sure to write your name, the course, the professor’s name and date in the upper right corner of your essay (unless instructed otherwise).

Conclusion

Writing an A+ academic paper is no easy task. Hopefully, this article helped you learn how to write a great essay and impress your professor.

Remember that the more you practice, the better you’ll become at writing. You can’t become a good writer overnight, but if you invest enough time and effort, and practice consistently, you have a solid chance.

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