Writing papers at Harvard is difficult because every TF is “unique” and “wonderful” in their own different ways. The range of Expos 20 TFs spans from “the best I ever had” to “the reason why I no longer concentrate in classics”. For those of you looking to boost “Syntax/Grammar” score from a 9 to a 13 out of 15, we’ve got you covered.
“Please keep your response to five sentences or less.” is the guideline equivalent of telling someone to cut their lawn using a pair of scissors. The tools just can’t complete the task. Have two sentences that vaguely pair well together? Throw a semicolon in there. Your TF won’t care enough to debate you over whether or not the ideas pair closely enough to warrant the semicolon; they’re probably grading your submission at 3 a.m. under the influence of Moscato and Red Bull. It’s a guaranteed fix.
It’s a word that isn’t “in summary” or “in conclusion.” A “thus” has moxie. It has pizzazz. Your TF has just soldiered through seven pages of you mischaracterizing Dostoyevsky and is on the brink of a breakdown. A “thus” says, “Hey, Mark. You’re almost there. He’s done making points. Keep pushing.” It’s also a sexy way to wrap up your masterpiece. It’s a written mic drop. Take a second to recline in your chair and admire what you’ve done. You used a “thus”.
You put significant effort into assembling a bibliography to dupe your TF into thinking you did independent research. Want to spice up your in-essay references? Finesse an “et al.” in there. An “et al.” conveys that a bunch of people worked on this cited essay, but you don’t want your TF to have to pretend to read all of their last names. It is a way to demonstrate that (a) you don’t want to waste your grader’s time and (b) this claim is legit. Don’t be worried about using it incorrectly, too; most people don’t know how to either (Nava et al., 2017).
These tricks will put you above the mean paper score in your section (we hope). If not, we always suggest complementing your TF’s jacket or actually showing interest by attending office hours. We recognize that those are very tall asks, though. Good luck.