How to Write a Timed Essay

It can be difficult enough to write an essay, but having to do it within stressful time constraints is another challenge in and of itself. Usually, these time constraints are in reference to due dates that tend to be weeks or months ahead. But when an essay is part of an exam, those weeks and months before your due date become minutes and hours. Facing a timed essay is nevertheless an intimidating situation that requires just the right mindset.

There are a few things you should recognize and accept before going into a timed essay. First off, know that you will not have any time to waste – it is as simple as that. The comforting procrastination you probably encounter often as you try to write an essay will not be an option here. You cannot allow yourself to space out, day-dream, get carried away with topic ideas that bring your train of thought somewhere else, etc. It is absolutely necessary that you come into this essay focused and stay focused the entire time. Of course, this advice could and should be applied to all studying-related endeavors, but this is a situation where you really do not have a choice but to follow it. If you do not stay focused, your time will quickly slip away and the essay’s potential will steadily go down. There are simply no other successful paths to take in a timed essay other than this one. Here are some tips for writing an essay that you may want to take a look at as well.

After you’ve come to an understanding with the focused mentality and are ready to tackle the essay head-on, you should plan out how you are going to approach the task. You can easily sit there and say you will be able to come up with a brilliant idea at a moment’s notice and write it out smoothly, but we all know that isn’t always the case. Especially in cases where you have not even a clue as to what your writing prompt will be, it will be far more difficult to put together a logical and interesting piece of writing right on the spot.

First, identify how much you do or do not know about the writing prompt. Odds are you will have at least a little bit of guidance as to what you will be asked to write about. Take the concept and information you are given and then go to all lengths to research your notes on it and make it a topic you are totally comfortable and familiar with. Make sure you feel at ease with the topic so that if somebody started a conversation about it, you’d be able to sincerely take part with clear insights. If you have a genuine knowledge of the subject, you will have little to no trouble writing about it. Here are some great tips on writing the college essay that you may want to check out as well.

Once you’ve become familiar enough with the possibilities of the writing of the prompt, you should have some ideas in your head about what you could write an essay about regarding it. Brainstorm and think about the different possible questions you could be asked about this information; more specifically, what kind of angles could easily be taken regarding this topic to create an essay? It is rare that you’ll correctly predict the essay prompt, but by preparing yourself for a few likely ones that would certainly make sense, you’ll have an easier time transitioning those ideas into something that would adequately answer the prompt you are ultimately given.

Finally, when test day arrives and the infamous prompt is laid out in front of you, stay calm. Allow yourself just a few minutes to read through the question a couple of times to ensure you truly understand what it means. The last thing you’d want to do is waste your time writing a well-structured essay that answers a question that wasn’t asked. Get your mind well-acquainted with the idea you need to grasp and do not move forward until you know you are ready to transcribe that idea on paper. 

As mentioned earlier, you will not have any extra time to let your mind wander, so creating an extended outline is not recommended. Making a simple, quick outline, however, is a good idea. Just figure out what your thesis is and how each body paragraph will support it. Use those points as your main directions throughout the process and you will be well-equipped to get this essay done in a timely manner. You may also want to take a look at these 3 steps to edit your essay as well.

One last thing to remember is to keep an eye on the time. By no means should you stress yourself out and make your nerves go even crazier, but periodically checking on your remaining time will ensure that you don’t fall behind. It will serve as a healthy reminder for you to keep an efficient pace with your writing and not get caught up in your thoughts. Overall, staying familiar with all of these factors will make your timed essay a much easier journey and help you create a better product in the end.