Good essays are written using specific details and concrete examples. In contrast, writing in vague generalities provides unsatisfying results because the paper may not feel creative, special, or interesting. Therefore, narrowing the focus of a term paper is crucial because doing so will allow you to use specific details.
Also, if the focus is too broad, covering the topic adequately within the word limit or page limit will be difficult or impossible, and presenting even minimal specific examples or brief anecdotes will be more challenging.
Let us see how these suggestions work using an example.
Your instructor assigns a three-page paper with graduate school as the topic. The first thing you must consider is your audience. You know that the audience for your essay will be your professor and your fellow college students.
Look for related aspects. Items 1, 3, 4, and 5 are related. So, you cross out Items 2 and 6.
You know that finding the money for graduate school can be a problem for everyone. Even if a student’s parents are rich, money for college from a scholarship will free the money from your parents for personal items. So you go to your government’s website looking for information about financing graduate school.
You remember that your father’s friend, Dr. Abbas, studied in England; Dr. Abbas told you last year that he received a scholarship from Japan and the World Bank which enabled him to study in England.
You realize you could write a paper about that scholarship and interview people who have received it. Possibly Dr. Abbas would know other citizens of Ghana who received this scholarship.
So, you narrow your paper to informing readers about the JJ/WBGSP and plan to interview Dr. Abbas, your father’s friend.
By narrowing your topic, your essay will have direction and provide useful information to yourself and others. It will hold the interest of most of your audience.
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