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Writing Timed Essays

EF_Team [Moderator] 41 / 222 15  
Mar 18, 2006   #1
Many academic tests have timed essays. Often the student freezes when he/she realizes the test has a timed essay. Yet, they are really just five-paragraph essays. The first step is to create a thesis and then to support it with evidence.

While you are not able to research the topic, the question is usually one about a topic that you already know. The topic is probably one that you may have already written an essay about or it has been discussed in class. Think about the topic and make a quick mental brainstorm of what you know about the topic.

Make a quick outline with the thesis and main points you plan to use. What evidence can you use to back the thesis? What specific information do you know that could be evidence?

Think about an anecdote that would be interesting to start the first paragraph. Any personal experiences you might use in the introduction? Once you write the anecdote the thesis is next. An example on the topic of eating disorders:

My little sister worried me when I realized she was only eating food from fast food restaurants and often stored junk food in her bedroom. Sometimes I saw her raiding the cabinets for snacks. Could it be that my little sister has an eating disorder?

Something quick and easy about the topic can be created into an interesting anecdote.

Think about the five-paragraph essay and add three main points to support the thesis. Number one is _______________. Number two is ______________________. Number three is _____________. Try to be as quick as you can in listing the evidence.

The last paragraph is your conclusion. Summarize what you have already stated. Give the audience a take-away point to leave them thinking.

The object of a timed essay is to state what you need to say as fast as you can. Using an outline is a great way to get you started. Simply think introduction, three main points, and the conclusion. Do not panic. Tell yourself to relax and think about the topic.

Ask yourself what you know about the topic. Make some quick notes to the side of the paper if possible. Use these notes to help you write the paragraphs.

Do not worry about grammar or spelling when you write your rough draft. Once your essay is written, then go back over the essay.

Have you used transitions between the paragraphs? This is an important part of a timed essay. Connect each paragraph with a transition as it leads from point one to point three. The introduction is simple with an anecdote and the conclusion could end with a question.

Most people get nervous and freeze. This costs the student valuable time as they sit there saying, "Oh, no." Instead, calmly think about the essay question. What do you know about the topic? Give yourself a few minutes to list what you know mentally or jot it down on paper. Take what you already know to write the timed essay.

If you see yourself freezing, tell yourself to relax. Take a couple of deep breaths. Mentally tell yourself that you can do this. It begins with the thesis, then the main points, and last the conclusion. It is not that difficult because you probably write five-paragraphs essays on a regularly. The only difference is you are being timed. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Do not worry about the spelling or grammar until after the essay is written, and then go back and correct any spelling or grammar mistakes. Once the essay is written simply shake off the worry and know you have done a great job.


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