How to Pass a Course/Assignments

Sometimes the amount of assignments is overwhelming, however, it's vital to turn in every single assignment. Any credit that can be accumulated, even if it's partial credit, can be helpful at the end. Learn to use the 80-20 rule: 20 percent of your effort will give you 80 percent of the credit. For example, if an assignment would take you 10 hours for an A worthy paper, 2 hours will most likely yield a B worthy paper. Make sure you go for that B, and if time permits, polish it to make it an A. However, an assignment that's not turned in will give you no credit at all. It is also important to turn the assignments in on time in order to avoid losing credit for simply turning in something late.

The Outline


Fire up your favorite word processor and start with the outline. Write down every single heading that you will need. Basically each heading should correspond to each point that the paper should have. Your professor might have given you a list of points that the paper must contain, if that's the case, then that should be your outline. Take each point, in order, and turn it into a heading. Make sure to use the "Style" feature to format the headings as "Heading 1", "Heading 2", and "Heading 3" as appropriate. Also, if possible, use the "Outline View" mode available in most modern word processors. This can help you visualize the whole paper in a single screen. This can normally be done in half an hour.

Creating the content


Once you have the outline, start filling each heading with the corresponding information. If you need information sources, try to find them before and have them on hand. Set yourself a time frame to have a very rough draft. Normally two to four hours should be enough from start to finish.

Under each heading you should have an introductory paragraph, introducing the issue that is going to be developed. This paragraph should be quite general. Each subsequent paragraph in the section must deal with a single idea. State this idea in the first one or two sentences, then provide details, an example, or a quote. Follow each quote with a simple opinion.

Things to have in mind:

  • Stay on topic, and try to fill the requirements of the paper. That's the objective, nothing more, nothing less.
  • Be objective, avoid controversial opinions unless you have very strong arguments to support your opinion.
  • Write your statements with confidence. Attitude is half of the game.

Wrapping up the paper


After you have finished your paper, go back to the top. Some readers might have noticed that one of the most important parts of a paper was neglected: the thesis statement. Normally this is written first. However, that's under the assumption that you have a clear idea of what you are writing, and where you want to get to. This assumption is not valid in the context of the book. Rather, the focus is that you don't have a clear idea about what you are writing. However, while writing the paper you will get to know what you are writing about. By the end you should know where you got to: that should be your thesis statement. Of course, make sure it looks like it was made before writing the paper.

Final details


Make sure that you include a few details to make your paper look more polished:

  • A table of contents: Remember that it was suggested to use the "Heading" styles available in your word processor? They will come in handy to create a nice looking table of contents in less than a minute. Every modern word processor will make it for you.
  • Page numbers: You have table of contents, add the page numbers to go along. Again, use you word processor feature to make the page number.
  • Sources cited: There's a very thin line between research and plagiarism. And this line can be described as citing your sources. Make sure you do it, even if it seems obvious.
  • Cover page: Make a nice yet simple cover page, and save it as template to be reused in all of your assignments. Make sure it has all of the important information:
    • Course name
    • Assignment name
    • Date
    • Your name
    • An ID number should it be required
    • Name of the professor
    • Name of the institution