Trying to write an essay fast when time-constrained by an exam or test, you can do three simple things to get you out of stress and writing fast. Here they are:
- Decide on your structure in advance
- Spend considerable time on your thesis statement
- Refer to the thesis statement as you are writing the body
Step 1: Decide on your essay structure in advance
And when I say ‘in advance’ I mean do it before you even arrive at the test. Let me give you two scenarios.
Scenario 1. You come to the test ready to be totally taken by surprise with your exam essay topic. They give you the essay topic. You read it. And now you’re trying to figure out how to even approach it, because you’re already out of ideas.
Scenario 2. You decide in advance that your essay will have 5 paragraphs (for example). Now, this is a real decision. You simply decide that it will be 5 paragraphs regardless of what topic they give you.
If they give you a topic on Mars, then:
- Why fly to Mars?
- Can flying to Mars be physically done?
- Would it be worth it for the humanity?
See – three parts. This will mean 5 paragraphs:
- Thesis statement
- Body paragraph 1
- Body paragraph 2
- Body paragraph 3
If they give you a topic on capital punishment, then:
- Killing people is wrong from a religious point of view
- Killing people is wrong from a legal point of view
- Killing people is wrong from a humanitarian point of view
Again – that’s three subtopics of one topic + intro + conclusion = 5 paragraphs.
So, step 1 is just decide that your essay will have a fixed number of main points/paragraphs (3 main points / 5 paragraphs). Stick to the numbers no matter what topic you get – you can ALWAYS do three and five (or any fixed number you have chosen in advance).
If you come to the exam knowing exactly that you’ll be dividing the topic into three subtopics, your brain will be looking for a way to do this and will focus and work like crazy. This is exactly what you need.
This is the most important step to write an essay fast in an exam.
Step 2. Spend considerable time on your thesis statement
Your opening paragraph is your main point + outline. Let me explain.
If you write your first paragraph the old-fashioned way – first a flashy intro and then your thesis in the last sentence – you will be going about it the wrong and the hard way. Here’s an easy way.
Write your opening paragraph this way:
- Get to the point right away
- Outline your reasoning
People should try to fly to Mars for three reasons. First, this would give us tremendous information about our solar system. Second, this would stretch our boundaries of what we thought was possible. And finally, this would give us a home away from home in case the Earth becomes uninhabitable.
Look, I don’t care if you believe any of this. Just look at the structure. If you construct your opening paragraph (thesis statement) this way, you will already have an outline to refer to when writing the body of the essay.
And in order to write a thesis statement like this, you will need to spend at least 25% of your overall exam time to just write this first paragraph.
Check out other articles on this blog on how to write a thesis statement – you’ll find more than one. And watch some of the videos I have on this blog, too – you’ll get plenty of tips on how to write your thesis statements so that they would make your life easy in trying to write an essay fast in an exam.
Step 3. Refer to the thesis statement as you are writing the body of your essay
If you did step 1, and if you did step 2, and you did those steps well, then writing the body of the essay should be a piece of cake.
Yes – it’s the biggest part of your essay. But it is not the hardest part. The hardest part – the thesis statement – is done. And now all you have to do is refer back to it as you’re writing your body.
So, in the example above (about Mars), you know that you have three main sections:
- It would give us information about our solar system
- It would stretch our boundaries
- It would give us a home away from home
These are now the headings (lead sentences) for each of your three body paragraphs. All you have to do now is prove that each of these statements is correct – and to do so one statement and paragraph at a time. Three statements = three paragraphs.
Hey – hope this helps. So, go back and go through the three steps. If you do them, your will cut your exam essay writing time in half – you’ll see.