How to Complete Long-Term Projects & Research Papers

Do you have a big assignment coming up? Although larger school projects can be daunting, there’s plenty of ways students can effectively plan out their steps to completion. With the right tools, you can avoid stress and ensure you’ll have all your materials ready by the deadline. Here are Tutor Doctor’s tips on how to complete long-term projects and research papers!

Read the guidelines or instructions multiple times. Your teacher will likely provide you with several resources related to your project, including a set of instructions or guidelines. This information is important to review at least twice! These guidelines often act as a rubric as well, and teachers will specify in detail what the student will be graded on. You also want to ensure that every requirement or section of the project will be completed in a reasonable time frame. As a result, you should take note of important due dates.

Make a checklist with important deadlines. With the dates you highlighted, make a checklist to follow. Having a clearly laid out schedule of deadlines is especially helpful to avoid procrastination! We recommend adding these dates to a calendar as well, and you can even set alarms or reminders on your phone. With any long-term project, you never want to be working on something the night before it’s due – always make sure you’re aware of any upcoming due dates!

Explore ways to make the subject interesting. In a perfect world, every topic we’re asked to research would be something that appeals to us. However, this isn’t always the case with school assignments! As a student, you may be asked to write a research paper or complete a big project on a subject that you aren’t particularly interested in (or know nothing about). We recommend taking the time to explore the topic on your own, and try to discover ways the subject engages you personally. Although you may feel overwhelmed trying to research an area you aren’t necessarily interested in, many students find that these types of challenging projects are the ones that end up being the most memorable. As we always say, it’s great to venture into the unknown, step outside your comfort zone, and learn about unfamiliar concepts and ideas!

Break down the steps needed to get there, and organize a schedule to track your progress. Research papers and projects are often broken down into several steps, and your teacher may ask you to turn in portions of the assignment throughout the process. Here’s a typical example of what a teacher might ask for with a research paper:

  • Note cards and research
  • Written outline
  • First draft
  • Peer-editing
  • Second draft
  • Final draft
  • Poster or visual aid
  • Class presentation

As you can see, teachers usually outline the various portions of a project with fairly specific guidelines. You’re going to want to make sure you’re aware of when each of these is due, and what you need to do in order to complete each “block” in a timely manner.

Work with a tutor that specializes in executive function skills. These skills are absolutely vital for any student to succeed with long-term projects. The tutors we work with focus on Tutor Doctor’s X-Skills program, which aims to improve executive functioning skills in the ways of planning, organization, and time management. If you find your student is having trouble keeping up in these areas, we recommend working with a tutor that specializes in executive skills. Simply having a tutor can create an expectation of accountability with students, and often does wonders to help improve these organizational skills moving forward.