Top 10 mistakes that could cause a low grade for your term paper

Jul 01, 2013
College is not only a freeing and fun time in the life of an individual, it is also a time of great pressure and stress. Learning to deal with the many demands placed upon you, and time management is an important lesson that is taught. No where do you need to use the skills of time management and organization more than when constructing, or writing a term paper. A term paper is a paper that a professor uses that asks you to demonstrate the command of the subject that is either presented, or that you have picked. It is different from any other type of paper assignment that you can be granted, and it requires that you follow strict rules for completion.
A term paper is used for you to show that you understand the information that has been given to you and that you can successfully, and proficiently form your own theory, evidence and conclusion. There are components that must be presented in your term paper for you to receive a passing grade, and many things that you can do to get the high marks that you desire. Following the instructions of your professor is the key to getting the grade you want and to pass the course successfully.

What is a term paper?

A term paper is a work that is assigned in an academic, or professional setting, which involves making a statement and using evidentiary information to prove it. A term paper uses a thesis statement at the intro and then a body of key points and verification, to prove it. It is a paper which is most commonly wrote in a formal voice, versus an informal one, and is most often objective as opposed to subjective. Term papers can be assigned on just about every subject imaginable and at times you will need to do research to support your statement, while others, it will be your argument that will be the support needed.

What is the structure of a term paper?

A term paper consists of three separate components:
  • The introduction - this is the place where you insert your thesis statement. It is a statement about the intent of the term paper, and what you intend to prove or to show evidence to throughout the paper
  • The body - this is the section where you present your main, or key points, alternating with the proof to substantiate any claims made. This is the place where you will form your argument
  • The conclusion - this is the place where you will take the main points presented, reiterate them, and tie them all together into one cohesive argument and conclusion
All three components need to be in place for it to be a term paper. What becomes key to the term paper is the thesis statement. When forming the thesis statement it is important to be clear and concise as it will set the organization, outline, and specifics of what is to be proven, or contained in the paper.

Top ten mistakes that can cost you a good grade

  1. A thesis statement that is not clear and concise
  2. Assertions without any proof
  3. Illogical conclusions or illegitimate arguments
  4. Poor grammar
  5. Citing or reference problems
  6. Faulty or irrelevant information
  7. Plagiarism
  8. Not following the instructions as outlined by the professor
  9. Choosing a subject that isn't relevant
  10. Not giving yourself enough time and turning it in after the deadline
These are the pitfalls which some students will fall into which can really sabotage a good grade. The thesis statement is the cornerstone of the entire paper. If it isn't stated clearly, or if it isn't something that is concise, the entire argument of the paper will be faulty or run the risk of being invalid. The thesis statement is what will define the outline of the paper overall.
It is important when writing a term paper that you use relevant information that is valid to prove your assertions or main points. There are those references which will be credible and those which will not be. Using references is an important part to displaying that you understand the subject and that you have done the research needed. The professor will specify which type of citing needs to be adhered to. Most commonly it will be Harvard, or APA style, knowing how to properly cite information is integral to your grade.
If you use any outside sources in your paper, you must cite and acknowledge them either with a works cited, or a reference page. Using any information without giving credibility to the source is not only illegal, it is a good way to receive a failing grade, or potentially, get expelled from school. Copying any other idea or information from another source is plagiarism and a sure fire way to receive a failing grade at best.

What are credible sources to use for your term paper?

There are those sources which are valid to use in your term paper and those which have very little credibility. The places where you will find the most valid information are:
  • Journals
  • Books
  • Research papers
  • Internet
  • Main library catalogue
Although it is okay to use the internet for information, it is important to know where the information is coming from. Often times on the internet you may find that you are reading secondary sources, that is the originating source is being cited. It is important to go to the original source and read it before using it as proof for your term paper.


When writing a term paper there are things that will earn you a high mark, and those which will plummet your grade immediately. The most important thing to remember is that the thesis statement is the cornerstone of your paper and the thing that needs to be made in a clear and concise manner if you want to form a valid argument. Another important thing to remember is to follow the instructions of the professor closely, keeping the assignment on hand at all times to refer to. Make sure that when you use information from another source, or place, you cite it and give it the proper acknowledgement that is necessary.
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By Martha Buckly. Martha is a good freelance writer and loves sharing posts on different topics including tips and guidelines for articles and academic writing. Her professional experience helps to create interesting and useful material.
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