Getting Ready to Take an English College Course

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Take Advanced Placement English in High School

Getting ready for freshman-level English begins in high school. Many students begin higher education without the writing skills freshmen need. Since most college courses require good writing skills, this problem will affect your work in other classes, not just English in your freshman year. To be prepared for college level writing, you should take Advanced Placement (AP) English in high school. This class mirrors the difficulty of a college-level class. Be ready to work hard, but the payoff will be stronger writing skills.

If you are not ready to take AP English, or if it is too late to do so, you can still prepare yourself. Just follow the rest of these tips.

Review Basic Grammar and Sentence Structures

You should come to a freshman English class with a basic understanding of grammar. If you have forgotten basic sentence structures, you should review the parts of speech, which are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Articles (a, an, the) appear in front of nouns, and interjections (oh my!) usually stand alone. The other parts of speech, however, come in several varieties and may appear in different places in a sentence. To be certain what part of speech a word is, you should not only look at the actual word, but also at its meaning, position, and use in a sentence.

Prepare to Write Longer Essays

From high school, you probably know how to compose a five paragraph essay with an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In a freshman English class, prepare to write essays longer than the five paragraph format. You will most likely take what you learned about topic sentences and thesis statements and compose longer essays using different types of organizational methods. For example, you may be assigned to write a definition essay or an argument essay in your freshman class. You should not allow these longer assignments to intimidate you. Use the experience you already have in writing essays and further develop your abilities.

Make Use of Resources

Before you begin freshman English, you should locate the writing center, or writing lab, on campus. Here, trained tutors, and even campus instructors, assist students individually in the writing process. You should not feel embarrassed about going to the writing center. Students who want to do well ask for help in organizing an essay, editing grammatical mistakes, and formatting a bibliography.

If your school does not have a writing lab or if you are taking an online English course, an online writing lab may help you.

Use Your Textbooks Wisely

Most instructors assign two textbooks, a writing handbook and a reader, in an English college course. Your handbook will contain information you need about planning, writing, and editing an essay. At the beginning of the course, you should spend about 15 minutes learning how to find information in your handbook. This will help you throughout the process of writing an essay, from narrowing a topic or organizing a paragraph to editing your work.

Your reader is a collection of essays or literary works. You should be ready to enjoy the works in your reader and approach them with curiosity. When you are assigned reading, you should read the essay or story at least twice. The first time, you should read simply for pleasure. The second time, you should read the work critically with a pen in hand to take notes. Reading critically will help you remember what you have read and prepare you to discuss the work in class.