(1) Figure out what kinds of topics the reader values, and choose one of those topics. Spending time in class and reviewing your notes might help you learn what interests your instructor. If you have been given a list of topics to choose from, this list can help you determine the interests and the literary, political, or ideological perspective of the instructor. Quickly checking out your readerâs list of publications (from an online resume or an online library catalog) can help too.
(2) It normally helps to take a line of argument that the instructor would naturally be inclined to agree with. As you become better at making arguments and supporting them with good evidence, however, you can provide a carefully-reasoned defense of an alternative point of view. Of course you always have the right to take an alternative point of view, but in terms of grading and the readerâs perception of you as thoughtful, smart, or perceptive, you also have to be able to defend it successfully.
(3) For readers who are longtime instructors or who have 50 or more students, choose a topic that differs from the most common and obvious topics. Beware that the most obvious topics are sometimes the most interesting; don't choose an uninteresting topic just to be different.
(4) Proofread your essay carefully. Having an essay free of typos and grammar problems shows that you are prudent and careful. It also shows that you put extra effort into your essay. Most of all, it keeps the reader engaged rather than distracted. If you have any question about proper style or usage, either find the answer or seek another way to write the same thing.
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