10 common mistakes to check before turning in your final paper

Finals are just around the corner for many students, so blogger Jenn Wagner of CollegeCandy.com compiled a checklist for students to use before turning in their final paper. Wagner shares the top ten grammatical and paper writing mistakes students often overlook, and that ultimately separate them from earning an A.

1.  No thesis statement. A thesis statement vocalizes the reason you are writing the paper. Without it there is no focus, and that means there is no paper. Don’t be afraid to adjust your thesis when you’re finished. You may have found holes in your argument or that you didn’t truly believe what you set out to prove. A revised thesis is better than no thesis at all.

2. Confusing their/there/they’re.


  • They’re is a contraction that is used in place of “they are.”
  • There represents a place.
  • Their shows possession.

Even if you’re rolling your eyes because you are proud to already know the difference between they’re, their, and there, it’s an easy mistake to make when your furiously typing your paper at the last minute. Check that all forms of the word are correctly used when editing.

3. Not proving your point. Make sure that the body of your paper supports your opening thesis statement. All of your information in your paper should be relevant in relation to your thesis.

4. Confusing affect and effect.

  • Affect – when actions are affecting someone
  • Effect – the effects of a situation

Even if you are a pro at using the right effect/affect, double-check every use of them in your paper when editing.

5. Not using transition sentences. When moving from one paragraph to the next, make sure you’ve closed the first paragraph and segued smoothly into the next. You can find lists of transition words (however, nonetheless, on the contrary) that are helpful when you’re looking for the best way to move on.

6. Using the wrong than/then.

  • Then – Used in a sentence when talking about time or the order things happened.
  • Than – Used in a sentence when comparing and contrasting.

7. Using personal pronouns. Never use I, Me, We, We’re in a formal paper. Unless otherwise noted by your teacher, the voice of your paper should be of someone relaying information, not of you sharing your opinion.

8. Using double negatives. Never use more than one negative in a sentence.

RIGHT: I haven’t seen anyone yet.

WRONG: I haven’t seen nobody yet.

9. Not citing your sources. The rules vary depending on what style formatting your teacher requires for your class (MLA, APA). If you don’t cite your sources, you’re using someone else’s words as your own and it’s considered plagiarism. Always create your works cited page as you write your paper, so you aren’t left scrambling to piece one together at the last minute.

10. Its versus It’s.

  • Its – Represents the possession of something.
  • It’s – Represents “it is” or “it has.”

Before handing in your final paper, check it against these common mistakes. If some of the points on this checklist don’t apply to you, make a checklist of your personal common paper writing mistakes you know you should look for. If you’re having trouble coming up with some of your common mistakes, look back through your papers from past semesters and check for patterns in the notes your teachers have left you.


How to Get an A on Your Final Paper - http://collegecandy.com/2011/04/12/how-to-get-an-a-on-your-final-paper/#idc-cover

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