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More tips for stronger papers

With a few focused efforts, your teen’s essays and research papers will rise to the challenge.

Use transition words.

Transition words help papers read more smoothly by providing logical organization. They also connect important thoughts or provide transitions between opposing ideas. Students often get into trouble moving from idea to idea. Without transitions, they’ll lose their reader, who will have trouble following the writer’s line of thought.

Transition words act as signals to alert the reader. Words like in addition and furthermore tell the reader that a point is about to be expanded or explained. On the other hand and conversely suggest that the writer will explore an opposite idea. Therefore and finally signal that a train of thought is coming to an end.

Reading through the paper paragraph-by-paragraph makes a good test of fluency. If each paragraph makes sense on its own, the writer probably made wise use of transitions. If not, she can look for ways to add a transition word or sentence to introduce new ideas.

Transitional words and phrases

Don’t plagiarize.

Plagiarism, copying another person’s written work and calling it your own, is the same as stealing. What has been stolen is the author’s unique way of formulating ideas into his own words. Teach your student the proper way to credit the sources she uses in her research paper or essay.


Focus on clarity and simplicity.

It’s not uncommon for young writers to try to impress their instructors by overwriting. This can take the form of using too many big words, piling on too much (or unnecessary) detail, or taking rabbit trails. The content of a research paper or essay must always, always point back to and support the thesis statement. If it fails to do so, eliminate it.

Word Choice

For more essay and term paper tips, also see 4 tips for stronger papers.