Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Craziest Excuses to Skip Out on Your Writing Assignment

The craziest excusesSooner or later, a moment comes in the lives of everyone when we have to come up with a credible excuse for not finishing an assignment.

There are a number of possible approaches to this. You can try giving one of the same tired old excuses that every professor has heard a million times: the flu, family problems, your dog.

Or you can come up with something outrageous and simply hope that your creativity earns you some brownie points.

Once you’ve determined that an excuse is the best route, here are some to choose from.

1. “What assignment?” Depending on the instructor or the situation, playing dumb can actually work sometimes. You legitimately have no memory of being given an assignment; or maybe you do, but you thought it was due next week. Didn’t your teacher say it was due next week? You could have sworn he did.

2. “My computer crashed.” Anyone can relate to the experience of being derailed by technological problems. Your computer has a virus. Your flash drive broke. The Internet was down. It’s impossible to dispute that such things actually happen. Be wary of using this excuse with veteran teachers, though; they’ll just say you should have started the assignment sooner.

3. “I’ve had too much to do with my job.” Most instructors will take pity on students who have to work an extra job in addition to school, as long as you don’t use this excuse too often. Remember, your teachers will expect their classes to be your top priority.

4. “My essay was stolen.” Those gosh darn homework thieves are at it again! You KNOW that assignment was in your backpack, but someone must have taken it. Heck, maybe they even stole the entire backpack with your homework in it.

5. “I’ve been too sick to do it.” You’ve just barely been able to summon the energy to drag yourself out of bed and come to class. Your teacher should feel flattered that you made the effort to show up. You’ve certainly been in no condition to finish your writing assignment.

6. “I need your help to figure out how to do it.” This plays on your teacher’s natural desire to help you learn. She will be more than willing to give you a little extra time so that she can explain it to you better. Never mind that you could have emailed her or gone to her office hours before the assignment was actually due.

7. “My essay flew out the car window.” You can hand in a dirty, rumpled, illegible paper to make your story more convincing.

8. “I was abducted by aliens.” Hey, it happens. But once again, this wouldn’t be a problem if you hadn’t left it to the last minute.

9. The truth. Sometimes the truth is really your best bet. It’s likely you have a good reason that your professor will understand. As long as the truth isn’t that you chose to stay up all night partying with friends instead of doing your work.

With this repertoire, you should have no problem finding a great excuse to give your teacher. Feel free to embellish if you want! A little creativity keeps things more interesting.

Scholarship Essay Tips: Write a Winning One

Scholarship Essay TipsYour scholarship essay is easily the most important part of your entire application. It’s probably the only part of the application which makes you stand out from other applicants. Most applicants will meet the same basic requirements: good grades, well-rounded extracurricular activities, and decent test scores. So congratulations…you’re just like everyone else!

Until the reviewers look at your essay and discover that you’re actually not like the others, at all.

Here are the tips to writing a winning scholarship essay.

  1. Follow the directions. You would be amazed at how many students get their applications rejected simply by failing to follow the instructions. Reviewers will be searching for ways to eliminate applicants quickly to make their jobs easier. That means that if you exceed the word limit or single-space instead of double-space, they may not even read your essay at all. And equally important: make sure that you have a crystal-clear understanding of the question so that you can respond to it effectively.

  2. Start with an outline. Do not leave your essay to the last minute! Give yourself plenty of time to plan what you’re going to say. A good outline in an essential tool to craft a coherent essay. Start by listing two or three main points in response to the question, and then add a few concrete supporting details to each of them.

  3. Use proper format. Unless the instructions specifically state otherwise, scholarship essays should be typed in size 12 Times New Roman font and double spaced. There should be one-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides.

  4. Keep your audience in mind. Avoid crafting a “one-size-fits- all,” generic essay that goes out to everyone. Do some research on the organization offering the scholarship. Discover their goals and priorities and write your essay to reflect these. Find out as much as you can about former award recipients; this will help you understand what the committee values. Remember that there are people evaluating you, with their own hopes, dreams, and goals. You will stand out by showing that their goals are important to you.

  5. Be concise. Keep your language clear and to-the-point. Avoid word repetition.

  6. Make the real “you” shine through. Write with passion and reveal your hopes, dreams and convictions. Instead of just listing activities and accomplishments, turn them into a story that says something meaningful about you as a person. Give concrete details to make this story memorable and believable.

  7. Proofread carefully. Before completing this step, go back and read the question again. As you read over your work, make sure that it answers the question. Then proofread carefully for spelling, punctuation and grammar. It’s also a good idea to enlist a friend, a teacher, or a parent to read it over; it’s easy to miss simple mistakes when we are reading our own work.

It can seem like a lot of pressure to write a scholarship essay that stands out from the crowd. But if you take a little extra time and thought, it can pay off big in the long run.

Book Critique Writing: Play It Cool

Book critique writingAre you feeling stressed about that book critique assignment?

No need to worry. Here are the steps to creating a book critique you can be proud of.

What Is a Book Critique?

A book critique is different from a book report, which is a simple and straightforward summary of the book. In a critique, you may include a brief summary, but your main focus is to evaluate the book, offering your critical assessment.

Before You Begin

Your work begins even before you start writing, while you are reading the book. Take notes as you read on the main message, themes, and key ideas. As you go along, you may try grouping these ideas into sections and then writing your own thoughts about each section. Sometimes it helps to read other critiques of the book to give you ideas.

Introduction

Start with basic bibliographical information: the title and author. Next, state what the main message or thesis of the book is.

Summary

Write a brief plot summary, mentioning each of the author’s main ideas and the main characters. Do not try to cover every detail of the book in your summary. Keep it short and focus only on the elements that are most important. Back up any of your statements with facts and evidence.

Evaluation

Write your evaluation of the book. It may be effective to answer the following questions in your evaluation.

  • Does the author make logical arguments?
  • What parts did you like?
  • Will the reader come to the same conclusion as the author, given the evidence presented?
  • Did the author succeed in making his point?
  • Does the book have emotional or logical appeal?
  • Is the evidence presented still valid, or is some of it outdated?
  • What is the author’s area of expertise?
  • What major themes are introduced in the book, and are they successful?
  • Is there any evidence that would support the opposite argument?
  • Does the information presented in the book fit with your own understanding of the subject?
  • How does the book compare with others in the same genre or written by the same author?
  • Did the author interpret all the evidence in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Does this book add clarity or significance?
  • If it’s fiction, what was the most important scene in the story, and why?

Conclusion

Here is where you let the reader know whether you recommend this book and why (or why not). Include some positive and negative aspects of the book and compare it to others that are similar. Indicate whether or not you agree with the author’s conclusions. Include specific examples to back up your statements, referencing page numbers when necessary.

Revisions

Proofread carefully several times. Don’t rely on your spellchecker, as it might not catch everything. Be extra careful in checking the spelling of the names of the author, the characters, and the publisher, and that quotes are cited correctly. As you read, put yourself in the mindset of your intended audience to ensure that your critique makes sense, that you’ve used the right amount of quotes, and that your summary is adequate.

A book critique is a wonderful opportunity to engage with a text and give your opinion about it, so enjoy it. You will find that it’s not as bad as it seems.