As an academic writer, I’ve had to write essays all my life and even though it used to be something I dreaded doing, I’ve learned to love writing essays. The key, as I’ve discovered, isn’t to focus on the end result but rather on the process of writing itself. Here are five tips that will help you write a great essay and become the best essay writer in college.

1) Get organized

Before you can write a single word, you’ll need to decide on your structure. Many professors expect their students to use a traditional 5-paragraph essay structure: Introduction, 3 body paragraphs and conclusion. Don’t worry if that’s not how you want to write your essay; different teachers prefer different styles of essays. However, be aware that deviating too far from what you’ve been taught will make it harder for your readers (professors and/or judges) to understand exactly what point you’re trying to make. You’ll also want a thesis statement—the one sentence in which you clearly explain what your essay is about–to open each paragraph, so keep them in mind as well. Organizing yourself saves you time, and being punctual is valuable in college. Here’s why and how to improve:

2) Make sure you understand the question

Ask your teacher for clarification if you’re not 100% sure what is being asked of you. The essay prompt might seem obvious to some, but if it doesn’t make sense, take time to restate it in your own words so that you understand its exact meaning. If there’s something about it that still isn’t making sense, bring it up with your teacher and make sure you fully grasp what is being asked of you. You don’t want to turn in a paper only to find out later that there was more expected than what was written on the page! For example, if you were writing an essay on a piece of literature, your thesis statement should reflect how you would analyze and interpret each piece of literature as well as include any significant information related to both author’s intentions or literary elements (such as character development). When coming up with ideas for your paper topic, be sure to choose one that includes everything required by your assignment. And don’t forget—this also applies when proofreading. Be sure to read over everything again before submitting just in case there are any mistakes or typos. Don’t leave anything until the last minute because then you’ll risk missing key details that could change how others perceive your work.

3) Pick a question with room for creativity

The most difficult part of writing an essay is choosing what you want to write about. The key here is not only choosing your subject, but also narrowing it down. For example, if you are assigned American culture as your essay topic, you could narrow that down by picking a specific historical era or event in American history (like Vietnam) and focus on how it impacted culture today. If your instructor wants 5 pages long, consider allocating one page for each of these five parts: introduction, three body paragraphs with evidence (2–3 supporting details per paragraph), and conclusion. Follow any format or structure requirements listed in your assignment sheet or syllabus exactly—you don’t want extra marks deducted due to poor formatting.

4) Come up with three main points

An essay is just like any other piece of writing—you need a main idea and three supporting ideas. This will help you organize your thoughts, but it’s also important because it shows that you’ve thought about what you’re going to write about. A vague or disorganized topic sentence makes it seem like you either haven’t prepared enough for your essay or don’t really understand what you want to say in it. If that happens, it could reflect poorly on your writing skills and make it seem like there are other areas where you aren’t as strong as you think.

5) Support your ideas with evidence

In order for your essay to make sense, you have to be able to back up what you’re saying with support and evidence. Good writing isn’t just about showing off your great vocabulary and ability to string together a bunch of complex phrases. A good writer is able to demonstrate that they’ve done their research, and show that they know what they’re talking about by including specific examples in their writing. You don’t have to make references or write at length about certain topics if you don’t want, but having some specific examples can make all of the difference when it comes time for someone else (like your teacher) to read over your work or get help from