At the end of a semester or school year, teachers often require students to submit one final project, such as an essay, presentation, or exam. Though this is merely a way of demonstrating all that was learned over the course of the past several months, it can be challenging for students to cross that finish line. When you have a handful of papers to write, the task can feel gargantuan, what with all the brainstorming, outlining, researching, drafting, and editing that goes into each one.
When everything you’ve learned is being assessed all at once, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. After all, didn’t you just spend months reading and studying and discussing? Whether you’re in college or high school, being expected to synthesize and analyze all that new knowledge in a cohesive argument can seem like climbing Mount Everest.
First thing’s first: Don’t panic! The good news is, you will get those papers written—because we’ve gathered the best strategies for juggling three, four, or even five final papers simultaneously.
If you have multiple writing assignments to tackle at once, read our tips for managing finals that will make the process easy, breezy, and (mostly) stress-free.
Get organized and prioritize
The simplest way to feel less burdened by looming deadlines is to get organized. Which paper is due first? Which paper can you work on last?
Outlining a very clear calendar of each deadline is key. Once your time is organized, you can move on to organizing your materials. Make sure each subject has a separate notebook or folder where you can keep all pertinent information (including class notes, handouts, research materials, and the final essay prompt).
Prioritize each assignment not only by its deadline but by importance. What percentage of the course grade is attributed to the final paper? Is the course a core subject, or one for your major? Are you currently acing the course, or are you verging on trouble with your academic performance?
Taking into account all of these questions will allow you to triage your final papers. It’s perfectly suitable (and encouraged!) to apportion your study time unequally, prioritizing and organizing each final by importance.
Seek out a little essay inspiration
As you begin contemplating what you want to write about, there are plenty of preparatory tricks that can help light the way. Garnering inspiration from various sources will put you in the right headspace for getting down to business.
Here are several great sources of essay-writing inspiration that will make you feel more primed for tackling your assignment:
- Review past assignments. Specifically, look at your feedback. Knowing how your teacher grades or has responded to previous essays you’ve written will tell you exactly what to avoid in your final paper.
- Attend office hours. If extra office hours or review sessions are offered, go! It’s always helpful to talk things out with your teachers in more detail, as they’ll often drop hints, ask you questions that nudge you in a deeper direction, or make their expectations even clearer before you start writing.
- Understand what makes a great essay. Take a step back and refresh your knowledge of essay writing. Read a few articles about how to write better essays or how to be persuasive. Doing so will not only spark inspiration for the act of writing itself, but it will remind you of the basics.
Tackle the toughest (and highest-priority) paper first
Once you’ve done these simple preparatory steps, you’re now ready to write.
Since you’ve already identified which paper is the highest priority, start there. It’s always a good strategy to get the toughest paper out of the way, as this will eradicate the most pressure and free up your brain for the remaining assignments.
Make sure you allocate plenty of time for research and don’t procrastinate! Procrastination is the enemy of progress. The night before your final is due should never be the first moment you set foot in the library.
If your end-of-term to-do list is looking stressful, remember to take a deep breath. There are plenty of practical strategies for tackling the tasks with grace and ease. Stay positive, work hard, and make it happen.