Have you ever written an essay in 25 minutes? You have if you have ever sat for the SAT. While the stakes may be higher for a last-minute academic essay, the point is this: do not panic! Instead, read this six-step guide to writing an essay in a day:
1. Understand your goals
Whether you are writing a personal statement for a college or graduate school application, or an essay for a high school or college class, your assignment will have specific goals. Before you begin to write, review these goals. Clearly understanding your objective is essential when working with a shortened timeline.
2. Choose a topic
Under normal circumstances, you might devote several days to brainstorming a promising topic, and then you might write a detailed outline before writing and revising your essay over a week or two. When you are on a tight schedule, this is not possible.
So—write down the first three or four ideas that occur to you. If you cannot think of an appropriate topic, ask a parent or a friend to review the assignment with you. Do not spend more than 10 or 15 minutes on this part of your essay, as the execution ultimately matters more than the idea itself.
In addition, do not stress yourself about selecting the “perfect” topic. Without a topic, you will have no essay to turn in, and any essay is better than no essay. (It naturally follows that any topic is also better than no topic at all.)
3. Set deadlines
Establishing deadlines for a one-day essay is key. Budget 5-10 minutes for brainstorming, 15-20 minutes for creating an outline, and several hours for writing. You can also set aside an hour for feedback and review, and another hour for any necessary revisions. You should also allow for an hour-long break to recharge your mind. Finally, plan to submit your essay several hours before the deadline. A schedule with some flexibility will allow you to adapt to any unforeseen complications.
4. Arrange for reviewers in advance
Whenever possible, arrange for reviewers (such as your parents or friends) first thing in the morning, and let them know when they can expect a draft. When your deadline is in several days or weeks, you have the luxury of finding reviewers after you have finished your draft. With a shorter deadline, you will not have this ability. Be clear on the short turnaround time to ensure as smooth a review period as possible.
5. Outline your essay
There are many resources that can advise you on how to write a wonderful essay, but the purpose of this article is to shape that advice to the demands of a very short timeline. This includes resisting the urge to abandon the outline. Having an outline is even more important for a one-day essay than for a week-long project with a similar word count. A strong outline will keep your essay focused and organized from the start—which is critical when time constraints will limit your rewrites.
Your outline should not be detailed, and it should take no more than 15 or 20 minutes to complete. Determine your hook (see below for more information), and then jot down the threads that connect this moment to your central argument or idea.
6. Stay organized
When you are under pressure, your tendency may be to start writing and to see where your essay goes. Try instead to use a brief anecdote or emotional impact statement (i.e. the “hook” in your opening paragraph) to set the stakes for your essay. This is essentially your opportunity to state why your argument or idea is worth your reader’s attention.
Finally, remember that “perfect is the enemy of good.” Manage your expectations. Your goal should be to write a good essay, not a perfect one. If you have a compelling hook and a well-organized flow of ideas, check your writing for errors, and then send it in.
Brian Witte is a professional SAT tutor with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington and holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University
More from Varsity Tutors:
Why Summer is my Favorite Season of the Year Essay
511 Words3 Pages
My favorite season of the year is summer because of the warm weather, the school vacation, and the endless fun. I really enjoy the warm weather because it’s the perfect atmosphere to do outdoor activities. My favorite part about summer has to be the fact that school is closed for two months. During summer, you’re free to do whatever you want, not worrying about curfew or waking up early for school. Summer time is a great time to relax with friends and family by soaking up the sun at a beach or simply having dinner together.
I love the hot and humid days that makes you want to dive into a fresh and cold pool. When summer time starts, you can wear lighter clothes, which are much more comfortable. The weather allows people to go outdoors to…show more content…
The break calls for staying up late and waking up whenever you want to. Everyone works so hard during the school year, so they deserve that free time. Summer times are stress free, relaxing, and basically fun. You don’t have to worry about homework, projects, and studying for a test. One of my favorite summer pastimes is staying up late watching movies and eating junk food, and then waking up late and having brunch.
Summer season is the best time for festivals and activities. You can never get bored on a summer day or night. During the day, there are fun activities such as: swimming, sports, picnics, and barbeques. Friends and family spend a lot of time together during the summer time. There is a lot of good food, drinks, and fun music. Everyone is laughing and having a good time. Summer evenings are the best time for concerts, movies, parties, and relaxing with friends. The summer evenings are beautiful because of the sparkly and glittery city lights. One of the best events of the year, July Fourth, happens during summer. The celebration of July fourth is very extravagant and glamorous. People gather around to celebrate and watch the display of fireworks. The vibrant colors and the loud sound of the fireworks are amazing.
Overall, summer is just a wonderful season with so much to offer. The best thing about this time of the year is that everyone is so happy, whereas, compared to the winter, everyone is