If you’re like all students, you get frazzled when you’re under time constraints. The pressure of the clock ticking can cause you to rush through a task and not do your best job. It doesn’t have to be that way when you are writing an essay, though. With careful planning, you can write a great essay in thirty minutes, or even just ten. This is a skill which will come in handy very often. You will undoubtedly face timed essay writing in many high-stakes standardized tests. You will also have those times when a deadline looms closer because of unexpected time commitments to family or other tasks.
Whatever your situation, here are the steps to banging out a terrific essay with limited time.
You may be tempted to dismiss this step or to do it hastily when you’re under a time limit, but that’s a mistake. Spending time gathering facts and quotes now will save you time later. Consider color coding with highlighters or index cards so that you can quickly organize your supporting details.
Lots of people react to a time constraint by skipping the planning. But keep in mind that you would never drive to an unfamiliar place without looking at a map or directions first. You may have saved time by not planning but you will lose much more of it if you end up driving around lost. It’s the same way with writing an essay. In general, you should spend 10% of your allotted time on planning. This means that if you have an hour, you must take six minutes before starting to create an outline. Write a thesis statement and list the points that you will make in the body of your essay, including supporting details. When you actually begin writing, you will find that the process goes much more quickly if you have mapped out what you’re going to say ahead of time.
Your introduction will consist of two parts: an attention-grabbing “hook” and a thesis statement. You can use relevant statistics, a question, a joke, or a quote to get your reader’s attention. Then state your thesis clearly.
For each paragraph, organize your claims clearly and stay focused on supporting your thesis statement. Be sure to cite supporting evidence for any point you make. You can use factual information or quotes that you found and organized during the research stage.
Your conclusion needs to unify all of the supporting details in the body of your essay and relate them to your thesis statement. If possible, leave the reader with a clever statement at the end. The conclusion should leave an impression on the reader of a well-constructed and unified argument.
These tips should help you craft a strong essay whether you have ten days or ten minutes. Don’t let that ticking clock scare you! Just plan your time and stay focused on creating the best work you can.