There are many things students don’t like, including writing papers. Of course, not everybody has the same attitude. Philosophy and literature majors love putting their thoughts on paper. But what about natural science students? The last thing you want to do is write a paper. Why not work on an interesting experiment instead?
Nevertheless, all of them are expected to work on essays. Professors use these papers to see how students can analyze, understand, and present information. Essays are one of many written assignments at colleges and universities. But an essay won’t work without a compelling topic.
Understand the Assignment
Before brainstorming ideas, some students have a hard time understanding the scope of work. They need help with homework to successfully complete assignments. There are several things students should consider before starting.
- What is the best way to do the research, and which sources to use?
- How long should the paper be in terms of pages and words?
- How much time do you have to complete the essay?
- Are there any limits to the subject matter?
- What subject does the paper relate to?
The complexity of the topic is based on the timeframe and length of the essay. As a rule, students are given a broad subject area and hints on taking the right approach.
How to Generate Good Topics
Working on an essay topic may be overwhelming for some students. Perhaps, they feel they are not up to the task or don’t want to write. But there are several strategies that make the process faster.
If you have trouble finding a perfect topic, write down as many ideas as possible. It’s better to use a notepad or an Excel document. Make notes on each idea as you go. When all obvious ideas are written down and none work, move on to the next. Students can also group ideas and make connections between them.
Sometimes, it’s good to talk about a possible topic with someone else. This person can be a professor, another student, or a friend. They can help you find a new approach. One can even discover ideas they never thought about before.
This method can be used if you are in a hurry but is less effective than brainstorming. Choose a broad topic to write about. Write about it for a couple of minutes without stopping. Anything related to the subject is fair play. After you’re done, search for any good ideas that came up during this process.
How to Find a Good Idea
No matter the chosen strategy, there will be many ideas to think about. However, there are a few tips that can help sort them out better.
Not everything comes down to logic. People often get ideas from unexpected sources. For example, Mendeleev is reported to have dreamed about his periodic table. Archimedes came up with his principle in a bathtub. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Move from general to specific. The first good idea is not equal to a thesis statement. It’s important to settle on a topic before making an argument. Think about a topic in broader terms before making it more precise.
Don’t toss ideas right away. Don’t be too critical of the ideas at this stage. If students focus on the flaws, they will lose momentum. Stay in a creative zone as long as possible. The first 5-10 ideas may be disposable, but you can strike gold soon. This won’t happen if you stop halfway.
Don’t settle for the first topic. Many students try developing the first topic they find. Oftentimes, they can’t do any good research. The topic can also fall apart after critical analysis. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon the previous one. One can easily return to it.
Choose a topic you find interesting. Working on something you don’t find engaging is a bad approach. And it will show in your writing. It’s better to find a theme you’re passionate about. If impossible, try to integrate your interests into the paper. When there aren’t any good things to write about, find the least boring one.
Question the Topic
Once you find a good topic for the essay, it’s time to put it to the test. The best way to do this is by rephrasing the subject into a question. The rule of thumb is that it should have an easy answer. For example, one can turn the “The best way of approaching quadratic equations” into “How does one approach quadratic equations best?”.
Students should remember that essays test their ability to argue a thesis. This means that they need a topic that can be defended. The content of the essay is used to confirm the topic. The next step of working on an essay is making a thesis statement.
Create a Thesis Statement
The statement presents the chosen topic as your position on the subject. They provide a taste of what to expect from the rest of the text. It can also be interpreted as an expanded topic summary. It’s important to keep the thesis clear and effective. These should be confined to a couple of sentences. Thesis statements are used as a guide for further writing.
Students can come back to it from time to time. This way, they will be focused on the arguments and thoughts. Both topic and thesis should complement each other. Ideally, students place their statements at the beginning of their essays. Don’t use vague terms and general words.
Some keep their statements brief. But they use more general assumptions and fail to communicate the paper’s subject effectively. Students have to include as many specifics as possible. They will strengthen both the thesis statement and the topic.
Students often mistakenly look at essays as boring and pointless work. Things couldn’t be further from the truth. This type of assignment provides many skills that improve logical and structured thinking. It’s a great way of mastering a subject and acing exams. Practice regularly, and soon, you’ll be a pro at finding topics for your essays.