If you’ve waited too long and procrastinated on beginning an essay that was assigned weeks ago by your professor, you need to write a quick essay. But the writing process can be daunting, and many students have trouble with a quick essay. In fact, it’s the brainstorming, prewriting, and researching processes that often impede students’ progress when writing — not the actual writing process itself. So if you find yourself out of time and need to write a quick essay, here are five tips to help you navigate the entire process well and earn the grade you want.
Simplify the Topic
First, simplify the topic of the quick essay. A broad topic is difficult to write about because you’ll need to cover a significant amount of information; this means more research, more citations, and more paragraphs. And if you narrow the topic too much, you won’t be able to find enough information to write a strong essay. So that means you’re looking for the sweet spot; you need the Goldilocks version of the quick essay: not too broad, not too narrow, just right.
So how can you simplify the topic best? Here are a few great ideas:
- Conduct some preliminary research to find out which topics have more sources.
- Craft a clear, argumentative thesis.
- Outline an argument with at least three (or more) strong supports.
- Focus on a single issue and its core aspects rather than on multiple issues.
- Instead of climate change destroys the planet, argue that carbon dioxide negatively impacts Earth’s climate by gradually increasing its temperature.
Clear the Structure
If you want to write a quick essay than you need to clear the structure before you actually begin writing. What does clearing the structure actually mean? Good question! Think of writing like traveling in a car: the ride goes smoother if you know where you’re going. So before you get into the car (or sit down at the computer) have a roadmap (or an outline). Know what you have to write about. See how your ideas connect before you try to haphazardly connect them in the paper. Sit down and take 30 minutes to an hour to create a quick essay outline. It could be a sentence outline or another type.
The most important aspects of a quick essay are these:
- Background information.
- Thesis sentence.
- Topic sentence.
- Support sentences.
- Explanation sentences.
- Transition sentence.
- Review of key points.
- Relevancy to audience.
Repeat the body paragraph outline as needed.
Remember: doing a little more work at the beginning will make actually writing a quick essay much, much easier.
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One of the best ways to write a quick essay is to leave yourself adequate preparation time. This means that instead of sitting down to write an essay with a jumble of notes and research and ideas in front of you, you take more time for preparing to write than for actual writing. Really, the hard part of writing for most people is thinking through how ideas connect — not the actual writing part. So if you plan to leave enough time to prepare, you should be able to write a quick essay in no time flat. Here are five things you should leave more preparation time for:
- Reading any assigned material.
- Finding reliable sources.
- Taking and citing notes.
- Organizing ideas into a clear outline.
- Writing a rough draft.
After you’ve completed these steps, leave it for a day or so and then come back to work on it. Looking at your work with fresh eyes will help you spot any weak areas as well as errors in grammar and/or mechanics. Even the best writers need editors! Planning to take a break if it’s even for just a few hours can make all the difference between a passing and a failing paper.
One of the best ways you can write a quick essay is to type everything. Type your notes as you read. Type an outline. Type your rough draft. Keeping everything on the computer means that it is easy to cut and paste your notes into a quick essay. You can also make easy changes between or among paragraphs. Better yet? Most word programs offer both spell check and a grammar check. While computers may miss a few things, they can help you catch misspellings as well as fragments, run-ons, and comma splices among other pesky grammatical stuff. Every error you catch is a point you don’t lose! Typing your drafts also allows you to easily send them for critique to your professor, your classmates, or to friends and family who could provide some constructive criticism.
Nearly every living creature capable of cognitive thought enjoys rewards. So if you don’t love writing and have to write a quick essay, set a completion reward for yourself. And no cheating allowed! You can set a completion reward for each stage of your quick essay, or just one larger one when it’s printed and ready to hand in. Completion rewards should be desirable enough to keep you on track; so it could be something you’ve wanted to buy for a while, or somewhere you’ve wanted to travel with friends. If you know there’s a great party coming up soon, don’t allow yourself to attend until that essay is 100% done. That should be a motivating factor to help keep you on track to finish your quick essay on time.
While some students love writing, others hate it. But when it comes down to it, every student has to write essays — a lot of them — before earning a degree.
So tip number one: don’t procrastinate. Waiting until the absolute last moment causes stress, which impairs the brain’s ability to think clearly, making writing an essay more difficult. Tip number two: break writing into manageable parts. Take the time to prepare; the better your preparations are, the quicker the writing process will become when you sit down at the computer to create a quick essay.