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10 Components Of A Good Term Paper: A Guide For High School Students


Term papers are an ever-present reality for high school and college students, especially for classes in the social sciences and humanities. Over the course of your educational career, you will find yourself writing numerous term papers. Because they’re so ubiquitous, it’s crucial that you learn to write a good research paper that’s both factually solid and skillfully written. Term papers usually count for a significant part of your grade, so it’s incredibly important that you do well on these assignments.

Here are ten elements that should be in any A-winning term paper for a high school class:

  1. Solid research. Research is an important part of any term paper, and it’s usually the first step in the writing process. You can find all kinds of useful, valuable information, both online and at your local or school library. You can also find out if your local university library allows non-students to use their facilities for research. When it comes to valid sources for your paper, you will always want to avoid encyclopedias. This includes Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and anything else that calls itself an “encyclopedia.” These are “tertiary sources.” You want to focus on sources like peer-reviewed academic journal articles, books, and periodicals like magazines and newspapers.
  2. A strong thesis statement. The thesis statement is the core of your entire paper. Usually consisting of one to three sentences, the thesis statement encapsulates the entire argument presented within your paper.
  3. Clear, well-written prose that’s free of grammatical errors. The content of your paper is usually more important than eloquent prose, but you could still lose points for flagrant grammatical or spelling errors. Be sure to edit and proofread your paper before you turn it in. If writing isn’t your thing, have one of your friends who’s good at English take a look at it for you.
  4. A clear and cohesive structure. Your paper should be structured in a way that makes sense. This includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The body of your paper should address issues in a way that makes sense and shows a clear progression of thought.
  5. A strong, well-supported argument. Be sure that you can back up any claims you make with facts and data from reliable sources. Also, make sure that it makes logical sense.
  6. A strong introduction. The introduction of your paper should give a brief overview of the topic, and then present your thesis statement.
  7. A conclusion that ties everything together. Your conclusion should restate your thesis and recapitulate the general content of your paper.
  8. Correct MLA or APA format. High school teachers can be notoriously finicky about MLA and APA formatting. Make sure you’re following the guidelines correctly.
  9. A properly formatted Works Cited or References page. This is part of MLA and APA formatting, and a misplaced comma could cause you to lose a couple of points. If in doubt, try using an up-to-date online citation generator.
  10. Any other specifications listed by your teacher. Make sure to follow any instructions that your teacher delineates for your term papers. They may request a separate cover page, page numbers, and other elements.

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