how to write an essay

Study Skills

Learn by Taking a Quiz

This quiz takes about five minutes to complete, depending upon your level of preparedness. With each answer you select, a pop-up message will appear explaining why that particular answer is right or wrong.


1. Should you take notes in class?
  Yes, it helps you maintain your attention and drives away boredom if you have any.
  No, you can easily remember what happened in class next week.
  No, in class I've found the teacher only goes over material for the dumb kids.
  Yes, it gives the teacher the respect he or she deserves.
2. Is a pocket calendar a good idea for keeping track of dates?
  No, with the right arguments you can usually turn in your essays late, regardless of due dates.
  Yes, a pocket calendar is an essential time-budgeting device for college students.
  How can I use a pocket calendar when I don't have a pocket?
  No, most people are too busy to be fiddling with calendars.
3. How much attention should you pay in class?
  You should block out all external distractions and focus your entire mind, body, and soul on the subject of discussion.
  You shouldn't talk when the teacher is speaking, but when other students are expressing their opinions it's okay to chat quietly with your neighbor.
  What's this I have to pay? I already paid tuition, now I have to pay something else? Forget it!
  You rarely learn anything in class anyway, so just try to make the best of your time.
4. Is procrastination an excellent technique for studying?
  Yes, you write better under pressure.
  No, you need time to revise and if you procrastinate you won't have it.
  I'm too busy to study, much less procrastinate.
  What does this word even mean?
5. Should you organize class handouts and materials in a notebook?
  You don't need a binder because everything you need to know is online.
  Yes, keeping your notes, assignments, and handouts in order in a notebook will organize your thoughts about the topic and help prepare you to you write.
  Yes, and I've got some nifty little plastic folders that I can use!
  Notebooks and binders are too bulky to carry around; they also look nerdy.

In sum, if you (1) take notes in class, (2) keep a calendar, (3) pay attention when your teacher and peers speak, (4) avoid procrastination, and (5) organize the handouts and materials, you'll have more academic success.

Of course, whether you truly succeed depends on larger issues, such as being persistent and determined to do your best, spending sufficient time researching the topic, learning to enjoy writing, etc. The techniques in the quiz, however, are easy, concrete ways of moving towards these more important characteristics.

In addition to the advice in the quiz, the following student advice link offers advice (in the form of "Dear Student") from students who have previously taken writing courses at AUC. Read what they have to say:



Tom Johnson. Last updated May 2004.