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The Ins and Outs of College Mid Term Papers

written by: •edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 6/1/2011

Those dreaded college mid term papers! No one likes them and worse, some students get lost on how to start and what to even write about. Unless your professor is specific, how can you be tops at writing college mid term papers?

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    What Are Mid Term Papers?

    Professor Wikimedia Commons Often, students may get confused on what college mid term papers should contain. They are not really research papers, but more of a way to discuss a topic or make an argument for or against a topic, usually something you’ve discussed and learned in class.

    A research paper, on the other hand, is usually longer in length, explores a topic deeply and may include many citations and much research. When you are handed a mid term, however, it doesn’t mean that research is not needed. This article will help you write the perfect mid term paper.

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    Listen to Your Professor

    Writing a good college mid term paper often depends upon your instructor. When I was in college, I had a professor who didn’t assign our topic, but did give us topic choices or we could devise one of our own based on the information we had learned in the class so far. He also had, what at least I thought, were some strange stipulations including:

    • The mid term must be folded in half diagonally, (no exceptions) before turned in.
    • We had to have the paper stapled appropriately
    • No photocopies (although that seemed reasonable)
    • We had to use the MLA style of citation instead of the APA style
    • The length was given in amount of words and pages

    As a freshmen in college and this my first paper, not only didn’t I know the difference between the MLA and APA citation style, I was dumfounded at why the paper needed to be folded in half—diagonally. Not to question this professor who always told me I couldn’t manage time but I could manage myself, I set out to write the perfect college mid term paper.

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    Important Tips for Mid Term Papers

    Before you stare at a blank computer screen ready to tackle that mid term, consider some of these tips:

    1. Topic – If your instructor gives you a topic, you’re set. If no topic is given, you may have to suggest a topic to your professor and have it approved. Don’t choose a topic that is way off base or has nothing to do with your class.
    2. Research – Sure you can just start writing, but does what you are writing make sense? It probably won’t unless you have a photographic memory and know everything taught in the class. Seek out sources to help you write your paper; remember some of your sources may even been your class textbook.
    3. Make an Outline – Consider how you want your paper to flow including a general idea of what you want your paper to cover. Write a few introductory sentences with bullet points you want to cover.
    4. Give it Sections - Like a letter, you should have an opening, the body or text of the term paper, and a conclusion that wraps everything up.
    5. Cite Sources – If you don’t know which citing style your instructor prefers, ask. Also, most professors really don’t like Wikipedia as a source so find other reliable sources.
    6. Only Include Relevant Data – If your term paper is to cover one topic and you include information that isn’t relevant, that’s usually the mark of a bad mid term.
    7. Grammar – Try and use good grammar and avoid typos. If you think your grammar needs work, have a grammar expert read the paper for you or seek the guidance of a good grammar book at the school library. Always proofread your mid term paper.
    8. Sentence Structure – No one wants to read a sentence that goes on and on. Your instructor may deduct points if they have to read and re-read sentences.
    9. Be Creative – Find ways to discuss your topic that are creative and will be enjoyable to read.
    10. Write it Yourself – With today’s world of the Internet, there are too many online sources that offer to write term papers for you. Not only is this a bad idea, your professor could find out you didn’t really write it.
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    Things to Avoid

    Test Taking Student Wikimedia Commons Beyond the tips above, writing the perfect college mid term paper means understanding what you’re saying within the paper and being able to discuss it if asked. If you’re wondering how long it should take to write a mid term paper, do ask for instructions from your professor to obtain clarity on length and detail.

    Read you draft term paper out loud or to someone else to help you check for errors or sentences that don’t make sense.

    Never wait until the last minute to begin your college mid term paper, if you do, it will appear rushed and probably won’t receive the grade you want. After you’ve determined the topic, what you should discuss, and have the professors instructions at hand, you should be able to determine how much time you need to research and write your paper.

    Skip the pretty paper and use plain white, good quality paper. No instructor I ever knew was impressed with colored paper or scented paper.

    Finally, if you have a friend or relative who has written numerous college mid term papers, ask them if you can take a look at one of theirs. This can give you an idea of what one looks like, how it flows, what you should cover, and what you should leave out to create the perfect college mid term paper.

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    Things Your Professor Will Tell You

    There are also some tried and true tips that most professors will tell you or at least hint at. Some of the helpful tips when writing a college mid term paper include learning how to use research source cards , organizing them and using highlighters, especially if you’ve have a lot of material to cover.

    Professors also love it when you utilize different kinds of resources such as interviews, journals, newspapers, books, and the Internet, so make it a blend.

    All instructors hate excuses, no matter what they are. If you think about it (really think about it), your professor has most likely given you ample time to write the paper.

    If you’re not prepared to discuss your term paper, your professor will surely know either you didn’t write it or you just wrote something to make them happy. It's also a good idea not to argue with your professor, unless they ask for a good argument. Most of the time, they do enjoy being right.

    Finally, to make that college mid term paper the best you’ve ever written, don’t tell your professor that another professor doesn’t make you work as hard. Doing this is a sure fire way to have the instructor assign your even more work.

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    References

    References:

    • TipDeck: (5/25/10) http://tipdeck.com/how-to-write-a-term-paper
    • University of Massachusetts (5/25/10) http://www.umassd.edu/specialprograms/info_lit/cite.html

    Image Credit:

    • Professor / Wikimedia Commons
    • Test Taking Student / Wikimedia Commons