Why Do You Need Multiple Drafts Of Your Term Paper?

The simple answer is that whatever you write, can usually be improved. By improving your work with each subsequent draft, this increases the likelihood of you getting a better mark. Because this is a lengthy piece of work, done over a period of time – the drafts in the early stages will probably be vastly different to your end, perfected and detailed draft. Everyone works differently, but below is an example of what the various draft stages ‘could’ look like in order to perfect your work as much as possible before the hand-in deadline:

Draft 1 – The Rough Draft

It doesn’t matter too much at this point what your work looks/reads like. The important thing is getting your words down onto paper, using the books and journals and resources you have to hand. I WOULD still strongly advise you to reference right from the start though. So, even in this ‘rough’ draft you should have full proper references as you go along (author, book/journal title, publisher, date, page reference), and be building up your bibliography. This will save you masses of valuable time later. But, with regards to structure, and spelling, and finding that perfect word for your sentence; don’t worry too much at this stage. You could start this first draft quite early on and build upon it throughout the term. By writing as you go along, material will be fresh in your head, you’re making continuous progress, and it won’t seem so daunting towards the end of the term when your work is due.

Draft 2 – Structure

When you have written the bulk of your term paper, read it through and check whether it has a sensible structure. Does it have an introduction, middle and conclusion. Conclusions are really crucial to your essay, and this is often the part students fall down on. By the end of writing an essay, students are bored and want it completed. But, remember, this is the last thing the tutor reads before marking your work; it needs to neatly summarize your findings, and have a convincing final argument that leaves your tutor impressed. If there are various themes that your essay discusses, it can sometimes help if you colour-code these in your second draft. It can help you see whether your paper has a logical structure. You may want to gather these sections together to make it more logical and ensure it doesn’t jump about from topic to topic.

Draft 3 – Spelling, grammar, clarity, presentation and accurate referencing

You’ll have done most of the hard work by this stage, but re-read your essay through to check and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You can also ask friends and family to read your work through, they may spot errors you’ve missed. Is your work set out according to the guidelines, with font and margins and spacing? Are your sentences too long? Are your paragraphs too long? It can sometimes help to read your work aloud to spot errors in phrasing and punctuation. Have you referenced correctly throughout?

Draft 4 – Put the work aside, and return to it with fresh eyes and a clear mind.

If you have been sufficiently organized, it can be a really good idea to completely finish your work at least a week before your deadline. If you have the time, don’t do anything on your work for a few days after you’ve completed it. Then return to it, re-read it and see if you’d like to make any amendments. Sometimes with fresh eyes and a clear mind, you’ll see areas to improve.