Student Speak

Five mistakes in your university papers that are costing you marks

Posted by Rebecca Smith on March 10, 2016 at 3:59 PM

If you are pursuing a university degree, chances are that you will have to write a paper of some kind at some point during your studies. Whether you are writing a research paper, a lab report, or a literature review there are a few common errors that could cost you important marks.

Underestimating the importance of proofreading

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When writing the first draft of an assignment it is common to make small errors in spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. While you may feel as though the spell check function of Microsoft word is a fool-proof means of finding and correcting these errors this is not always the case. It is important to allow yourself enough time to not only complete the assignment, but also proofread the final copy multiple times before submitting the document.

Citation errors

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Depending on which class you are taking and the preferences of your professor for each class you may be expected to make use of various citation styles. For this reason, it is important to not only be aware of which citation style your professors expect you to use, but also be well versed in how to properly implement these citations styles. Improper use of citations or an absence of citations altogether could lead to academic integrity concerns at worst and a loss of marks at best, so it is extremely important to learn how to use citations correctly.

Verb tense inconsistencies

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Switching between past and present tense can happen naturally in a paper when the writer switches between referring to past research findings and present research; however, unnecessary verb tense changes can be confusing for the reader and will most likely result in a reduction in your grade.

Adding fluff

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Adding unnecessary information or ‘fluff’ can take away from the quality and relevance of your work. When writing a paper it is important to be concise and only include information which is important to your argument or topic. Irrelevant information only serves to distract and bore your reader, neither of which bode well for your grades!

Weak concluding paragraph

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The concluding paragraph of an assignment is often an underappreciated portion of an assignment for students. When you get to the end of your paper and you’re finally wrapping up it can be tempting to rush through the conclusion; however, this paragraph can make or break your paper. A strong conclusion is essential to a strong paper.  


While these are some of the most common mistakes in writing university assignments this list is by no means exhaustive. What are some of the common mistakes that you’ve noticed? Let us know in the comments below.

Topics: Fun Facts