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Secrets of Writing a Capstone Essay

Well, here you are, at the culmination of your college career thus far. The capstone essay is maybe the most important thing you’ve ever written. Are you feeling intimidated yet? Well don’t worry. The principles for writing a great capstone essay are pretty much the same as any other kind of academic writing you’ve done so far. You should have a good idea by now what makes for a good essay. But even if you haven’t paid the least bit of attention and have no idea how you got this far, you can still write a great capstone essay. Here are some secrets to success:

  • Choose a subject you have passion for. Capstone essays are intensive projects. Since you are going to be spending so much time with this subject, you’re going to end up hating your own work if you write about something that doesn’t interest you
  • Create a great thesis statement. Even though the thesis statement will be no more than two sentences, the thesis is the most important one or two sentences in the paper. It is the cornerstone upon which the whole paper will be built. Your main idea should be expressed as clearly and concisely as possible. The best thesis will be the one you have the most evidence or the best logical arguments for. It’s a good idea to have someone else read your thesis to see if they find anything confusing or unclear about it.
  • Use active reading strategies when doing research. Active reading basically means writing notes as you read. Think of it as having a conversation with texts. Write down your reactions in a notebook or in book margins. Underline or copy down important passages you think might be good quotations for the essay. Active reading also means rereading anything you don’t fully understand. Read widely, but try to be aware when a source is not going to be useful for your essay.
  • Create an outline before you write your first draft. This will be like the skeletal structure of your essay. List the main points, and put them in a logical order so that your argument flows smoothly from the introduction to the conclusion.
  • Reread your paper for grammatical, spelling, and logical errors. Have someone else read your paper as well. Often others will catch mistakes that we miss.

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