English Composition, the compulsory course that overwhelms so many student writers, and maybe that includes you. The thing is, writing papers for English Composition isn’t an overnight process; it’s one of many steps and takes persistent effort to master.

Luckily, many of these steps consist of just a few basic skills that you can master right now. Below are 3 ways you can improve your grade on your next English Composition paper.

1. Build a Strong Outline, and Include Paper Requirements

Outlines are falling out of fashion. What a shame; they’re so crucial to writing ‘A’ papers.

Many think of outlines as redundant planning that take up your time and aren’t necessary, but properly constructed outlines help you construct your arguments and actually reduce the time you spend on your papers.

Try this, write down the primary elements of your paper: introduction, supporting arguments and conclusion, with a short list of what you plan to include in each one. Once you’ve got the structural elements, begin experimenting with where your ideas should go.

A timeless rule in marketing is to put your best selling point first. Do the same here, clearly state your strongest points up front, and use the others to support your primary idea.

Remember to jot down the paper requirements; due How to construct great arguments date, paper length, minimum number of sources and peer review date if any. It is so easy to lose track of these things and write a great paper that will later need to be revised.

2. Focus Your Research to a Needlepoint

Your objective when researching is finding a few highly specific sources that support your argument. Many students get bogged down in reading materials that aren’t going to contribute to their paper.

Skim through potential sources fast. Grab the basic thesis of the work. Is there anything useful you can use? It isn’t enough if something grabs your interest, it must support your conclusions in some way.

Let’s say you have to research and propose a solution to immigration reform. Your research will start broad at first as you start to accumulate basic information and learn the talking-points of the issue.