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  Home > InfoWrite > The Writing Process > How to Succeed in Composition

InfoTrac College Edition

How to Succeed in Composition

  1. Review your syllabus carefully.
    Make sure you understand the assignments, required formats, grading standards, and policies for withdrawals and incompletes.
    Note: College instructors use a variety of assessment methods. Some assign specific points for each paper, quiz, and examination for a total of 1,000 points. Others require students to write a variety of papers, then turn in a portfolio of what they consider their best work to determine their final grade. If you are unsure what is expected from you or how your work will be graded -- ask your instructor.
  2. Read the description of all the assignments in the syllabus.
    By reading about all the assignments first, you can think ahead and begin collecting ideas for future papers. Often you may be able to use material from other courses or your job experiences as topics for assignments.
  3. Record the due dates of the papers on a calendar.
    Plan your semester carefully so you will give yourself enough time for planning, writing, and revising each assignment.
  4. Become familiar with your textbooks. Textbooks often contain glossaries, checklists, and guidelines that can assist you in completing your assignments. If you have a handbook, spend some time to learn how the text is arranged. Study the table of contents and index so you can quickly locate information. Use post-it notes or bookmarks to identify sections that address areas you have had trouble with in the past.
  5. Read the descriptions of assignments carefully.
    Study the sample essays and those in the reader for samples of the kind of paper you will be writing. Refer to the assignment when you revise your work. Too often you can become sidetracked while writing and devote a great deal of time and energy developing a paper that does not meet the instructor's requirements.
  6. Study your returned papers for ways of improving future assignments.
    Read the comments, especially those highlighting grammar errors. Then examine rough drafts of the next paper to eliminate those errors.

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From The Sundance Reader, Third Edition, Web Site by Mark Connelly.