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Panic Paper

Writing a Paper at the Last Minute

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Have you ever put off writing a paper until the day before it was due? You’ll be comforted to know that we all have. Many of us know the panic of settling in Thursday night and realizing suddenly that a ten-page paper is due at 9 a.m. Friday morning!

How does this happen? No matter how or why you get into this situation, it’s important to remain calm and clear-headed. Fortunately, there are a few tips that will help you get through the night and still leave time for sleep.

1. First, collect any quotes or statistics that you can include in your paper. You can use these as building blocks. You can focus on writing descriptions and analyses of the separate quotes first and then tie them all together later.

2. Review the main ideas. If you are writing a book report, reread the last few paragraphs of each chapter. Refreshing the story in your mind will help you tie your quotes together.

3. Come up with a great introductory paragraph. The first line of your paper is especially important. It should be interesting and relevant to the topic. It is also a great opportunity to get creative. For examples of some outstanding introductory statements you can consult a list of great first lines.

4. Now that you have all the pieces, start putting them together. It’s so much easier to write a paper in pieces than to try to sit down and write ten pages straight. You don’t even have to write it in order. Write the parts you feel most comfortable with or knowledgeable about first. Then fill in the transitions to smooth out your essay.

5. Go to sleep! When you wake up in the morning, proofread your work. You will be refreshed and better able to spot typos and awkward transitions.

Good News About Last Minute Papers

It's not unusual to hear veteran students claim that some of their best grades have come from last-minute papers!

Why? If you take a look at the advice above, you'll see that you are forced to zero in on the most impressive or important parts of your topic and stay focused on them. There is something about being under pressure that often gives us clarity and increased focus.

Let's be perfectly clear: it is not a good idea to put off your assignments as a habit. You'll always get burned eventually. But once in awhile, when you find yourself having to throw together a panic paper, you can take comfort in the fact that you can turn out a good paper in a short amount of time.

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