You would probably think that there is a mistake in the title – if the method is failsafe, why on Earth should you avoid using it?
The reason is that it is failsafe only in the imagination of the writer. Students often tend to think about their professors as of bumbling idiots who don’t see further than the tip of their nose. When they create yet another ‘clever’ way of writing an essay which is supposed to make up for the lack of real knowledge of the subject, they believe that they are the first to think of it.
They cannot be more wrong.
Failsafe Methods That Are Sure to Fail
- Substitution of the question. So, you have no idea what to write about the issue in question, but have a fairly good knowledge of another, more or less close topic. Why not gradually lead the reader from one to another? If you do it skillfully enough, nobody will notice! But you are wrong. Your professor wants to see what you have to say about this particular question. If you try to wriggle out of it, he will notice it immediately – he has seen it hundreds of times.
- Overuse of academese. You don’t know much about what you are asked, so you try to envelope the little you know in as many scientific terms as possible, the more obscure they are and the more syllables they have the better. To you it looks like a terribly clever idea, and at a glance one may even think that you say something coherent. But if your professor scrapes the tint of terminology off, your ruse will become embarrassingly obvious.
- Fact-dumping. You remember a lot of facts, statistical data, dates and suchlike but are hard pressed when it comes to answering to the actual question. That’s why you try to cram all the facts about the subject you know into your essay: both to show that you know things and to do it before you forget them. But again – the essay is supposed to answer a specific question. If you don’t do it, the professor doesn’t care how much you know about other things.
Some Food for Thought
Don’t think that you are smarter than your professors and the students they dealt with before. Any ruse you may think of has been used by scores of people; some of them passed through your current professor. And don’t dismiss the possibility that this very professor tried to use the very same trick when he was a student. Seeing it used by someone else may certainly amuse him – but hardly so much as to give you points for it.