04/16/2011 11:05 am ET | Updated Jun 16, 2011

How To Get An 'A' On Your Final Paper

It's finals week. You're living on coffee and chocolate. Your days are spent in the library. Your nights are spent in the library. You're wracking your brain trying to remember historical facts no one knows about and chemical equations you will never use. You're stressed and crazed and far from in the mood to write. But write you will have to do.

Because in exchange for not having to take a final for that literature class you have to write a paper. And not just any paper, but a good paper. A really good paper. Because this paper is worth a large chunk of your final grade. The problem is though, you've never really gotten a grip on that whole paper writing thing. Sure, you know the basics, but do you know the specifics? Do you know how to avoid the mistakes that will keep that A just out of reach?

Well, I do.

After four years as an English major, one year as a literature tutor, and two semesters worth of thesis writing, I think I've cracked the code. And I'm going to share my secrets with you. Below are the most common grammatical and paper writing mistakes, the things you always miss, the things you need to know, the rules standing between you and that elusive A. So bookmark this page and consult it when writing those final papers. You'll thank me later.

1. No thesis statements.

Don't even think about starting your paper until you have one of these. Your thesis statement is the entire point behind your paper. It's the reason you're writing your paper. It's the idea that you are trying to prove. You can't write a paper without a thesis statement. If you do your paper will have no focus. At all.

2. Confusing they're/there/their.

Let's clear up the confusion behind this one, shall we?

They're is a contraction, used in place of the phrase "they are." Did you hear about Justin and Selena? They're going out.

There is used to represent a place. Where are Kourtney and Khloe? Over there at the bar.

Their is used to show possession of something. Who are the parents of baby Suri? Tom and Katie. She is their baby.

3. Not proving your point.

Once you have a thesis statement, something you want to prove, you actually have to prove it. So don't just throw a whole bunch of important sounding information on a page and call it a day. That information has to be both useful and relevant. Before you dedicate a paragraph to something ask yourself, will this help me prove my thesis?

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