Practical Advice for First Year English Students
how to make a good impression on your teacher?
some simple suggestions:
- Go to
class. Some teachers don't pay attention to attendance,
but some drop a grade if you miss without good reason.
- Get there
on time. Teachers get annoyed if you interrupt their
classes and make them say things again.
- Have your
assignments done on time. Again, teachers differ,
but some will drop your grade if assignments are late,
or if you do poorly on surprise quizzes.
your own work. When you turn in an assignment, your
teacher will assume you did it. You are encouraged
to ask people for help In revising and editing your
papers, but then make the revisions and corrections
yourself. If your teacher discovers that you didn't
do the work you submitted, the teacher may take punitive
action against you.
See the BSU
Student Handbook for more about this, but one kind of
cheating is so important to the Department of English
that we offer this explanation:
IS THE DELIBERATE OR UNSUSPECTING USE OF ANOTHER PERSON'S
WORDS, IDEAS, OR STATISTICS AS ONE'S OWN. CLAIMING
CREDIT FOR ANY PORTION OF ANOTHER'S WORK, DELIBERATELY
OR OUT OF IGNORANCE, IS AGAINST THE LAW. FURTHER,
INDIVIDUALS WHO KNOWINGLY ALLOW THEIR WORK TO BE PLAGIARIZED
ARE CONSIDERED TO BE IN COLLUSION WITH THE PLAGIARIST.
meant to scare you; it's meant to keep you out of trouble.
Also, teachers hate going through the ugly procedures
they have to start when they discover plagiarism, so
if it doesn't happen, everybody is happier.
how to write a good paper?
what ENGL 1101 and ENGL 1102 are about. This hints sheet
can't give you everything you need to know, but here
are some things to do to get you started:
about the purpose of the assignment. What does it
ask you to do? If it says "describe," then
describe. If it says "compare," then compare.
Good papers accomplish their purposes.
about your audience. Your teacher is almost always
your audience, but sometimes the teacher designates
other audiences for you to consider. In either case,
remember that readers want to be interested and respected.
Good papers get through to their intended readers.
- Use a
moderate tone, unless you have strong reason otherwise.
In general, write as a reasonable person writing to
other reasonable people about something interesting.
Good papers usually persuade readers that the writer
- Be as
specific as your purpose allows. It is difficult to
strike the right balance between general statements
and detailed ones. Try to choose the most specific
word you can use without losing your meaning and to
illustrate your meanings with examples. Good papers
make clear statements.
about how to fix your paper?
some strategies to try:
- Try asking
yourself some questions once you have a draft done.
it accomplish its purpose?
its tone moderate?
it mechanically correct?
it easy on the ear?
- Try reading
the paper over with the attitude that you are a reader
who has never seen the paper before.
- Try reading
the paper aloud. Mark the places where you hesitate
or stumble and then figure out what caused the hesitation
- Try giving
the paper to someone else. Ask them to point out parts
they don't understand.
are invited to visit
the Writing Resource Center (HS 110) for one-to-one
peer assistance in writing any paper for any
what a university-level paper should look like?
expectations vary, but if the teacher hasn't told
otherwise, papers should be typed or word processed,
double-spaced, on 8 1/2 x 11 inch white paper, with
or so on top, slides, and bottom. Papers should either
have a title page or a heading
on the first page which identifies the paper. Information
typically included: student's name, course title
and number, teacher's
name, date, and assignment number or title. Some teachers
have very specific requirements
about title pages and/or headings; some don't. If yours
does, follow directions.
about how your teacher will grade your papers?
This is a complicated issue, because the things your
teacher will think about will vary from paper to
as assignments change. For instance, some things that
work well In a personal narrative do not work well
a formal argument. Teachers will almost certainly consider
whether the paper accomplished the purpose of the
but teachers also react to things not so easily determined.
They ask themselves if the paper was interesting,
it affected the reader in significant ways, if it was
mechanically correct, if it had a sense of commitment.
This is hard work for the teacher - possibly
the least attractive part of the teacher's job. When
so chooses or when the decision is especially difficult,
the teacher can refer to a description of letter
that the Department has constructed as a standard of
reference. This description is most pertinent to
papers, but can help the teacher make a grade decision
about any kind of paper. Since the Department offers
this description to teachers, we also provide it
- A (Excellent)
The A paper develops a stated or implied thesis
with insight and vigor. Its ideas are logically
chosen words and phrases. Its tone and approach
are appropriate to the assignment and rhetorical
situation. It displays mastery of basic grammar.
- B (Good)
The B paper develops a stated or implied thesis
logically and adequately. It is
of mechanical errors. Its tone, while mature,
may not be appropriate to the assignment. While
is above average,
it lacks the insight and vigor characteristic of
the A paper.
- C (Satisfactory)
The C paper is a satisfactory response to the
It has a central idea that is expressed and developed
clearly enough to be understood by the reader,
it avoids repeated use of serious errors in mechanics.
The tone of the paper may be stilted or wooden.
Although the paper may seem correct, it lacks the
imagination, vigor, and clarity of thought and expression
which would entitle it to an above average grade.
- D (Poor)
The D paper indicates below average achievement
expressing and developing ideas. Its thesis may be
unclear or supported illogically or inconsistently.
The paper itself may feel unfinished, incomplete.
The paper may contain repeated, serious grammatical
- E (Failure)
The E paper falls to respond appropriately to the
assignment. Whereas the D paper may be weak In its
support of its thesis, the E paper simply falls to
express a thesis; or, if a thesis is expressed It
is not supported. The paper may contain serious errors
in grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.