How to Learn from a Sample Term Paper

Writing a term paper doesn’t come natural for every student. In fact, many students struggle to write effective term papers when they first receive this type of assignment. It’s not for a lack of writing ability or for a lack of understanding a topic, but more for not knowing how to go about organizing and structuring a term paper assignment.

This is where sample term papers come into the picture. For many, sample term papers are great to learn how to format a paper; learn about vocabulary that is used; figure out how to structure arguments; and, most importantly, learn how to write a thesis. Reading through a few sample term papers allow students to understand the main guidelines and requirements for term paper writing assignments.

But many students mistakenly use sample papers as free term papers for them to copy and paste in their entirety or in pieces. This is very risky and could land a student in a lot of hot water – the most serious consequences being: 1) receiving an automatic failing grade in a course, and; 2) being expelled from a program or a school. It’s important that students remember that sample term papers can be valuable tools but only if they are used as visual aids for learning purposes. They’re intended to give students a general idea of the writing guidelines and not as a free term paper to pass off as their own work.

Student should attempt to dissect sample term papers with a critical mind and a pen in hand. A great practice is to look for elements that make up a great term paper. These are:

  • A thesis statement that clearly states the writer’s position and argument.
  • An introductory paragraph that introduces the topic in general and provides some information about what the term paper is about.
  • Body paragraphs that make arguments in support of the thesis.
  • Evidence within each body paragraphs that have been taken from primary or secondary sources
  • A concluding paragraph that summarizes key points made in support of the thesis, and lets the reader know you’ve finished writing about the topic.
  • Citation and referencing formats (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.)

Students will find it useful to look at a few sample term papers before starting on their own. It’s an especially good idea to study sample term papers that are related or have similar topics to what they are writing about. Properly using these tools can help them master the skill of writing effective papers in a short time.