Writing Essays and Book Reports
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Writing Essays and Book Reports
If you need to write essays and book reports, you need effective reading and writing strategies to transform your ideas into high quality work as quickly as possible. Speed reading can help you iproduce book reports and essays. Studies show that speed reading can help students understand material and can help students produce high quality writing. With speed reading skills and a good writing strategy, you can save time and produce essays and book reports that get better results.
Start With Reading
When it comes to preparing for your essay or book report, you will need to read some research materials and/or books. The best way to do this is by applying a few speed reading techniques. Speed reading will help you to read more effectively and allow you to spend more time on the writing component. Whilstthe following strategies may seem time consuming initially, they will save you time by allowing you to find and read the key material.
Deciding what to Read
Step One: First, decide what to read. Gather all your materials and research together and decide which sources are the most important. You may need to go to a library in order to find the articles and books you need. Consult your school's catalogue, the local library and the internet to find resources. In general, you will borrow or source more books and articles than necessary , since not all of them will prove useful.
Step Two: Before you begin, you will want to organize your time and your work space. Select a quiet, well lit research space and decide on a schedule that will let you complete your reading and writing on time. There should be few distractions and you should be able to work comfortably without getting too tired.
Step Three: Pre-read. Go through each of your sources quickly, marking chapters or sections that are important for your project. You may want to use post-it notes in order to mark passages,so that they will be easier to find. Glance at graphs and charts, and skim quickly to get an overall sense of the topic. Very quickly, read introductions and conclusions to get a sense of the arguments the authors are making. Spend only a minute or two per source - the point at this stage is simply to get an idea of where to turn for useful resources.
Step Four: Now is the time to read and take notes. Go through each of your sources, reading as quickly as you can and taking notes on what you read. Make sure that your notes are well referenced and you know where each idea came from. To speed up the reading even more, skip parts that are irrelevant to your paper. Of course, if you are writing a book report, you will have to read the entire book. However, if you are writing an essay, you can read selectively.
Step Five: Once you have done your reading, think about the material and jot down your own impressions and ideas. Write out any promising ideas you have and mark them with a star in your notes so that you will not overlook them later. Ask yourself lots of questions about each source.
What is the author trying to argue? Do I believe him? Why or why not?
What do I believe? What are the implications of the argument? Why does the author believe what they believe? Answering these questions in writing can really help you understand the subject and allows you to start creating your paper or report.
Once you have read your sources, you should have enough ideas and materials to create your paper. If you do not have enough facts and ideas, you will have to return to step one and find more resources. Once you have all your ideas and notes, you can then begin writing your book report or essay:
Building the Argument
Step Six: Create an argument for your book report or essay. As this will be the basis of your essay or book report, make sure that it is not too simple or complicated. An argument should be based on fact and should not be obvious. Something such as "I find this book boring" is too general and personal to be an argument. A statement such as "This book explores the world of cats." Although it claims that cats have been part of art since ancient times, it only explores visual arts. is more appropriate. Something such as "Cats are crucial not only to the visual arts but to literature, where they have been depicted variously as friends,omens of evil, and as symbols of humanity" is much better for an essay.
Crafting the Outline
Step Seven: Create an outline for your book report or essay. Using your argument, outline what you will discuss in each paragraph of your essay or book report. An outline does not have to be complicated It should at least contain your argument and the subject of each paragraph you will write to prove your argument.
Step Eight: Write your introductory paragraph. Your introductory paragraph is very important. It has to introduce the topic, state your argument and interest the reader. You will want to give enough background to ensure that reader understands the topic and then show the reader what you will be writing about. For example, if you are writing about cats in art and literature, you may begin by stating when the first art or literature piece featuring cats was created, sum up two or three important cats in literature and then end with your argument.
Step Nine: Write the body of each paragraph. One at a time, write a few paragraphs (at least three) that support or prove your argument and make your ideas clear to your reader. It is often best to write each paragraph at a time, focusing carefully on creating a good paragraph before moving on to the next. For example, write a good paragraph on cats in literature that have served as omens of evil. Give examples and link the idea in the paragraph to your argument.
Step Ten: Write your conclusion. Quickly summarize what your paper or book report has argued and then suggest where the argument can go from there or suggest why the argument is important. You may note a new study, for example, that explores a similar subject. You may suggest further questions that need to be researched in the field. In your conclusion, though, you will want to leave the reader convinced that the argument you have made is valid and is important.
After the Writing
Once you have completed writing your essay or book report, you will want to take a few additional steps to ensure that your essay or book report is as polished as possible:
Step Eleven: Take a break. Taking a break lets you rest so that you can approach your essay or book report with a fresh eye. If you can, put aside your paper for at least a day or a few days. Ifyou cannot, then at least put it aside for an hour or a few minutes.
Editing and Polishing
Step Twelve: Edit your essay. Make sure that your essay or book report makes logical claims based on facts and evidence. Make sure the paper is clear and makes proper use of research material. Make sure that each research source is cited properly and that you have a bibliography that is complete. At this stage, you are looking for big logical errors. If you notice that your first argument is weak, for example, you may want to include some research studies or facts to back your claims. If you notice that your paragraphs are too short, you will want to add information until they are more convincing.
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Step Thirteen: Proofread your essay. Go through your paper line by line, looking for spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes. Do not just rely on your computer's spell checker and grammar checker - computers will accept incorrect sentences such as 'were I sew the cat' because each word is right individually.
Step Fourteen: Give your essay or book report the best presentation you can. Print out your paper or report on white good paper and follow any instructions you were given about formatting. Staple or clip the pages if you have been told to do so. Try to make your paper or report as professional as you can. Do not use colored paper or strange fonts.
Use plain 12 point Arial or Times New Roman. Always print in black ink on white paper, as this is easier to read.
Step Fifteen: Go over your essay one last time. Look for any errors or problems you have missed.
Whether you are writing an essay or book report, a few simple tips can help you save time and still write a great paper:
If you have very little time, spend as much time as you can formulating good ideas and sentences. Often, ideas are what matter most. If you have weak ideas and arguments, using lots of facts and writing well won't help you much. If you are low on time, the best strategy is to cut back on research and focus on creating a paper. Skim and do some basic research but begin to write as soon as you can. As you write, simply note the facts and research you need and then go to the library looking for the specific facts and details. You can simply add these facts to your paper, adjusting your ideas if necessary.
Dial a Friend
If possible, try to get someone else to look over your essay or book report for you. Preferably someone who is more experienced than you. Often, someone else will be able to see mistakes you have missed or point out paragraphs that are not clear. You can then change those problem areas.
When it comes to any book report or essay, you will do best if you clearly communicate your original ideas. Your readers want to know your impressions and ideas. Readers can only understand this, if you have taken time to create good ideas and writing. In a paper, work on having your own ideas and use the simplest formal language you can to get them across.
Even if you are very limited in time, never cheat or plagiarize. Not only may you be caught, you will feel terrible trying to use someone else's writing as your own. Cheating can also have devastating consequences. A student who had completed his PhD program in Ontario in the late 1990s was found to have cheated on his thesis. Even though he already had his degree and was teaching, he was fired and his degree was taken away from him. He was humiliated by having his picture in the newspaper. Many thousands of students are expelled from schools each year for plagiarizing and cheating. Often, these students have a hard time getting accepted into other schools, since the cheating is on their permanent record.
Complete essays for $50?
Avoid paper writing services. Many students think that they will not be caught cheating - especially if they use on the essay writing services that write student essays for $100. These services are popular with college students but they carry serious consequences. Many of the writers who write for these web sites are very rushed or have poor language skills, resulting in very low quality papers. An instructor can often detect a student who cheats this way since the services resell the papers online
- meaning that teachers can find the papers simply by running a basic internet search. Many writers who work for these services plagiarize themselves. These services are very expensive and are a sure way to get caught plagiarizing. The services themselves often have disclaimers that suggest that students cannot pass off the essays as their own. Often, these services claim that the papers are only meant to be used as research. That way, if you get a failing grade or demand your money back because your instructor caught you plagiarizing, the services will often not only refuse to refund your money, but may actually threaten to take legal action against you, since you are using 'copyrighted' material.
These companies are simply not reputable - they know that students use their services to cheat and they are only interested in making money from that dishonesty. If you want to avoid expulsionstay away from these services.
Reading and writing get easier with practice. Where possible, try to give yourself plenty of time for each assignment and do your best.
Once your readers or instructors have looked at your book report or essay, you will have comments and ideas that you can use to make your next writing project even better.
Some great online resources can help you with speed reading and with writing your essay or book report:
www.speedreading.com. This web site can help you get software that will help you read faster than ever, so that you can read more and create better essays and book reports. If you suspect that your reading ability may be affecting your ability to do well in school, a free speed reading test on the website can help you determine whether your reading needs help.
Plus, the forums on this website can help you get other reader's opinions about books and subjects.
www.freeonlinebooks.org. This web site allows you to read free books online.
The books are arranged by category. Whether you need books about science, philosophy, or history, you can find them and read them here - at any time of the day or night.
www.Questia.com. This is a fee for service website. Maany school libraries have a subscription. You can also get a short term trial subscription. Questia is a full online library that has thousands of articles and books on most subjects. You can read quality books and articles online and even make notes online that you can download into your word processing program. If you need a good source of reliable information, this is an excellent resource.
www.ipl.org. The Internet Public Library is a great place to do research.
This free and fully searchable site gives you access to multimedia exhibits, government documents, books, articles, reference works and much more. You can search by topic or by type of research material. The Internet Public Library even has special collections such as the literary criticism site that lets you research specific subjects. Best of all, the library has many thousands of links that take you to reliable websites where you can use to get more information.
www.RefDesk.com. The internet's reference desk contains thousands of links, facts and resources. Whether you need to look up words, facts or the latest statistics, you can find them at this web page. You can read newspapers online, find specific information or read government reports. This website even allows you to ask questions of experts. The handy "ask the expert" feature allows you to get specific quotes from experts and even allows you to ask experts specific questions.
www.findarticles.com. This website allows you to search more than 10,000,000 articles. You can search by topic or browse by subject in journals, newspapers, and magazines. If you need research, this is a great site.
Owl.english.purdue.edu. Purdue University creates this great website that tells students exactly how to create great essays and reports. Step by step, this site takes you through each stage of the writing process, from creating an argument to editing. Detailed information and plenty of links make the site easy to use.
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