Writing tips for preparing mid-sessions

Student doing homework in Wyoming Union. Finding quiet or comfortable places to work can also improve the quality of writing. (Photo by Brock Munoz).

Regardless of major, there are plenty of tips and strategies students can use to improve their writing before midterm.

First, make sure you’re familiar with the assignment’s prompt and rubric. Keep in mind that some professors will lower your grade for formatting, while others will prioritize other aspects.

Rubrics often outline the details of the assignment and how each aspect of the assignment will be graded. It is important to look at the rubric because the rubric will indicate which parts of the assignment are the most important or valued.

For some students, getting started is the hardest part. Pre-writing strategies, such as brainstorming, outlines, and free writing, can help writers get started and organize their documents.

Francesca King, Acting Director of the UW Writing Center, shared what she and her consultants are doing at the Writing Center to help students get started.

“Having someone who can listen to your ideas and ask questions allows for the flow of thoughts without just suffocating you and hitting a brick wall,” King said.

“Students can really arrive with nothing. It’s really nice to have no writing on the page and come in, it might ease some student concerns,” King said. “I know a lot of them suffer from writer’s block and are just terrified of people judging them, but this is a no-judgment zone.”

Some students will find that they have no trouble starting a paper, but may find that their papers don’t receive the grades they were hoping for. In this case, the revision of the strategies will be most beneficial.

There is a common misconception that revising, editing, and proofreading all refer to the process of revising a document for grammatical errors.

According to the University of North Carolina Writing Center website, editing is the overall process of reviewing an article, literally revisiting a document, while editing and proofreading are smaller tasks at the within the review.

Proofreading is what most students think of when they hear the term editing. This requires the author to read their document for grammatical errors.

Editing, on the other hand, asks authors to read their sentences, paragraphs, and essays to reinforce arguments and check for meaning and understanding.

The reverse outline is an editing strategy that King says is used regularly in the Writing Center.

The “reverse description” asks authors to critically analyze their drafts by re-reading their work and removing the main points they raised in their draft. Then the writer creates an outline based on the points he has gathered.

This process allows students to check the logic, organization and argumentation of their draft.

When revising, it is also important to check that the thesis in the introduction to the paper matches what the body paragraphs said and what the conclusion reiterates.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, use the resources at your disposal.

There are many sources online, including Purdue OWL and the UNC Writing Center, that provide comprehensive materials that show how to format an article, cite sources, reflect on an article, and more.

Students can also make an appointment with the Coe Library Writing Center. Consultants are available to help with all forms of writing, as well as all stages of writing, from idea development to final drafts.


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