The hardest part of writing an essay is oftentimes finding the information that you’ll be using. Most of us run into that common quandary of having the idea set out to execute the paper, but then are left scrambling to find a missing quote or reference that we need to support our argument. Listed below are some tips and tricks that students can use to make their lives easier when it comes to finding information.

School Textbooks: More often than not, the most underutilized resource in schools are the textbooks provided to students. If we are careful to follow and read what we have available to us, we can find the answer. A helpful trick is to go directly to the glossary and search the key term you are looking for. The glossary will list all the relevant pages on which that topic is the main idea, or is at least discussed.

The Library: Next to using your textbook, the best idea is heading out to your local library. At the library, you can zero in on your search by using their computers to search up books. Furthermore, you can simply hang out in the section that has all the books related to what you’re researching. The library will have novels, encyclopedias and many other sources of information. Plus, you can always ask an expert librarian for help if you’re having trouble!

Movies/Personal Interactions: Another easy-to-use resource can be movies. Movies are usually derived from books but it doesn’t hurt to reference your favorite movie here and there. This is particularly effective when the movie is a classic and has a central theme or storyline that people can easily identify with. In addition to movies, personal experiences can even be used. We’re all different and we all lead different lives and go through many different experiences. These experiences can be used as part of an essay or report if they aid in getting your point across (though perhaps check with your teacher first).

One last tip to make the research easier: In this day and age with the internet, we have the answer to practically every question at our fingertips. I know that whenever I have a question, Google is almost always the first place I go to find the answer. Search engines have grouped all the possible questions and answers you can have on a topic in one great place for us. Thus, the greatest tip in this regard comes to search optimization. I recently helped a young student with one of her first high school essays. She was having trouble finding reasons why communication is important amongst family. She messaged me asking for my opinion. To make this an effective learning experience, I demonstrated to her the value of being able to properly search on the internet. One major tip is to include only keywords in your search and to limit the words used. Instead of typing out a main sentence or a drawn out idea, zero in on the keywords and you’ll get a more representative search result! And if you are looking for research on a scholarly topic, use Google Scholar. When you search something using Google Scholar, the only results you will get are academic, peer-reviewed journal articles and books related to your topic.

Online Tutoring: This is one of the best resources at your disposal and it's a shame not many students know about it. There are numerous online tutoring companies that cater specifically to high school and university students, and even offer free trials so you can test it out before you try it. GradeSlam is one of the best online tutoring services that offers all students unlimited access to a tutor for $15 per month. The best part is the tutors are online 24/7 so you never need to book a session in advance - there is guaranteed to be someone online that can help you with any subject.