Private Irvine English Tutor Tips: How to Write a Research Paper: 5 Easy Steps

Every high school student will have to write a research paper at some point. Although these writing-intensive assignments can feel like the bane of a student’s existence, it’s a skill they’ll have to learn if they want to be successful. Actually, research papers aren’t as complicated as students think if they can break the task up into smaller, easier steps. There are many elements to completing a research paper, but here we focus on the writing and editing portion. Students who are able to follow these steps may reduce their stress to a point where they are no longer daunted by such an assignment – have a final research paper due soon? Book your private Irvine English tutor today!


1. Create a detailed outline

Most high school students either skip this step or create an outline that’s too vague. It’s definitely worth it to write a substantial draft to maintain order and flow throughout the paper. Outlines also help students avoid getting bogged down with writer’s block. In some cases, the shape can end up being a fair portion of the paper if it is detailed enough. This is a huge help for students who dread looking at a blank page.

2. Write (but don’t over think) the first draft

Many students want to write one excellent draft and be done with the task of writing a research paper. Although that would be nice, it’s not very realistic. Almost every successful writer will write two or more drafts before settling on a final essay. It’s important for students to sit down and write their first draft without worrying too much about perfection. Editing is unavoidable so students are encouraged to get enough words down on paper so they can move on to the next step (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Writer’s Block”).

3. Polish up the second draft

It’s important for the second draft to appear polished and easy to read. It can be difficult for students to determine if something is readable, especially if they wrote multiple drafts so it’s generally good to follow a basic formula until they develop more advanced editing skills. Does each paragraph have its own topic or subject? Is there a topic sentence or transition sentence at the beginning of each paragraph? Could a teacher or tutor identify the thesis statement without asking for clarification? Students are encouraged to work one-on-one with their tutor or teacher to perfect flow and formatting.

4. Edit for content and grammar

It’s not possible to hand in an excellent paper without first having edited it. Lots of times students will get tired and hope that there aren’t too many errors. Unfortunately, this can lead to disaster. Teachers can tell right away when a paper has not been edited for content or grammar and will grade accordingly. At the very least, students should proofread the final draft and fix any glaring mistakes. Online spell check is a good start but is not sophisticated enough to replace the human eye (READ: “Five Tips for Success in English Class”).

5. Include citations and check punctuation

By the time students get around to plugging in citations, they are usually pretty tired. Although this process can seem tedious, it’s important to make sure that each outside source has been properly credited. Students won’t get an F for putting a comma in the wrong place, but they do need to make sure they have listed the author, title, and page number of every outside source. In addition to proper citations, students usually leave punctuation corrections until the end. It’s okay to leave this task for last as it usually saves wasted time but it shouldn’t be forgotten altogether. Correct punctuation can make a paper easy to read and understand.

Score high on your end of the year research paper with the help of a Irvine private English tutor. Call us today for more information.

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