In an ideal situation, you’d have all the time in the world to write a great essay, but sadly it doesn’t always work out that way. There will always be times when you’re required to write an essay uncomfortably quickly, whether because of a tight deadline imposed by a teacher, or because you’ve been so busy that the essay has ended up being put off until the last minute. However, it is possible to produce a good piece of work even when very pushed for time, and in this article, we’re going to show you how.
1. Adopt the right mindset
Before you start writing, it’s crucial to get yourself into the right mindset. You may be experiencing feelings of panic, feeling as though you don’t have enough time and you can’t do it. You may feel defeated before you’ve even begun. To be successful, however, you will need to banish these negative feelings. It’s vital to be positive, to try to relish the challenge, and to adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude. If it helps, imagine it’s a battle that you’re going to win. Give yourself a pep talk, and keep the end goal in mind: you’re going to do a great job and impress your teacher. You’re going to prove to yourself that you can take on this challenge, enjoy it, and write an essay in record time. Take a deep breath, remain calm, and start to attack the work systematically and logically.
2. Switch off your phone and social networks
The last thing you need when you only have a couple of hours to write an essay is to get distracted by your phone or social networks, which have a habit of eating away at your time without you even realising. Procrastination isn’t an option at this late stage, so it’s time to ban yourself from your phone, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, iPlayer, YouTube, and anything else you think might distract you. Sit somewhere quiet and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door.
3. Type your essay rather than handwriting it
Most young people these days type faster than they write by hand, so unless you’ve been told that you must handwrite your essay, type it. This will make it much easier to edit what you’ve written and change things around, and you’ll be able to get more words in through typing quickly. It’s probably also going to be easier for your teacher to read a typed document than your handwriting, and you won’t suffer an achy arm that could slow you down, so that’s an added bonus.
4. Save the introduction and conclusion for last
Perhaps surprisingly, the introduction and conclusion of an essay are often the hardest bits to write. So, save these for last. By the time you’ve written the body of the essay, the task of writing the introduction and a summarising conclusion should be much easier, as you’ll already have spent plenty of time on your argument and you’ll be very familiar with it.
5. Don’t be tempted to copy and paste
The internet is full of resources that probably exactly match what you’re going to be writing about, and when you’re in a hurry, there can be a strong temptation to copy and paste useful paragraphs into your essay. Don’t ever do this! Plagiarism is not only immoral, but it also means that you won’t learn the topic in as much depth – and the whole point of writing an essay is to consolidate what you’ve learned and prepare you adequately for future exams. Teachers can use Google too, and if they suspect that you’ve stolen someone else’s work by copying and pasting something off the internet, all they need to do is type one of ‘your’ sentences in Google and they’ll instantly find where you’ve got it from. It’s normally easy to spot copied work, because the style will be different from the rest of the essay. It’s just not worth the risk, as you’ll lose your teacher’s trust and this will probably be reflected in the quality of the reference they give you for university.
6. Take a break (but only if you feel you need one)
It sounds counterintuitive when you’re pushed for time, but taking short breaks from time to time will stop you running out of energy and keep you focused. If you have two hours to write the essay, for instance, take a break for five minutes after you’ve worked for an hour. That said, if you’re really ‘in the zone’ and working efficiently, and you don’t feel you need a break, just work straight through and take advantage of your spate of productivity for as long as it lasts.
7. Reward yourself
Give yourself something to look forward to once you’ve finished the essay, as this will help to motivate you to complete it. It could be a chocolate bar, the promise of watching an episode of your favourite television show, or an evening out with friends – anything that will provide sufficient incentive to get your essay finished. You’ve worked intensively and have a great essay to show for it, so you deserve a reward!