Here are some tips from our correction of papers. These tips are valid for Sciences Po, but also for high school and the bac for example.
- Always start with a hook.
- Do not forget the accents on words.
- Avoid personal pronouns in the 1st person, even if it is acceptable for most professors. Example: as just outlined above → as outlined above
- Avoid the pronoun “we”, “we’re a dick” as some say. Example: one may wonder → it is possible to wonder
- world War I → World War I (better with capitalization)
- If you have two terms in the topic, always study the relationship between them. Do not cut them out! Example: relations between the United States and France during the Cold War. Do not do Big I: the United States, and Big II: France. They must be studied together each time.
- Beware of small spelling mistakes that may not seem like much, but which ultimately weigh on the grade. Proofread, for example.
- Original knowledge is highly valued. Original knowledge is knowledge that is a little out of the ordinary, that is not found in every textbook.
- When you have a topic, keep coming back to it in each paragraph. That way, you’re sure not to go off-topic.
- History essay: Ideally, call on authors, theorists, historians. But that’s the top level, we can’t ask too much of you.
- Avoid value judgments. Example: The term Alas implies a value judgment. Be careful, we are not here to judge history, some people may think it was good.
- Never repeat what you have already said: an example or a figure that you have already presented. The corrector will get the impression that you are repeating yourself.
- Within a section, be careful not to spread yourself too thinly chronologically. Start with the earliest events and go to the most recent ones. Order the elements well chronologically.
- In English, when asked for a definition, it is good to give the general definition and then more specifically the one that applies to the article from which the term is taken.
- Avoid contractions in English writing: We’ll → We will
- In English, announce the plan in the introduction
- By the way: avoid
- It is always a good idea to make a comparison with a foreign country, you show that you are open and cultured. (avoid France, you know it too well, prefer other countries of the world)
- Never cut a subject in two. The graders don’t like this at all. If there is a double question in the subject, do not answer one question and then the other, but deal with them together.
- If it was true → If it were true (special form of the verb to be after “if”)
- Always indicate the topic chosen.
- No colloquial vocabulary, even in English. Example: glitch.
- Be careful not to use arguments that are too extreme, which would seem disproportionate.
- Do not reuse a quote that has already been highlighted: you will give the impression of repeating yourself.
General Knowledge – Contemporary Issues:
- Avoid using 1st person pronouns, even if some professors accept it. Avoid including the corrector. We will see → It will be studied how to
- Expand your introductions! (One page long) Very important the introduction.
- Avoid saying that an author has good / rigorous / exemplary reasoning. They are studied by the whole of France or even the world, it is good that they are extremely good / rigorous / exemplary. We already know that.
- Do not forget the negations. We have not → We have not
- No familiarity in homework. Instead, use cordial language, with sustained word spikes, it shows the extent of your vocabulary without being pedantic.
- A word of advice: it is always better to show how an author is great than to try to find the author’s limitations. Proofreaders prefer this.
- Do not use the verb go for the future tense: will offer → offer
Feel free to share your own tips in the comments.