A common complaint from many human resource professionals these days is the continuing drop in the level of writing ability among newly hired employees. But it is not enough to simply be able to write well, according to these experts. It is just important to be able to write under pressure, using your writing skills to produce quality written material within a certain predetermined amount of time.
Because of this perceived need, the timed essay has seen an increase in popularity among writing instructors at virtually all levels of academia. The following information is presented to help students develop their ability to write while under time constraints.
Quick and Easy Format
Obviously, the chosen format for the timed essay should be kept as simple as possible in order to complete the essay as quickly as possible. Generally speaking, the most simple essay format, and hence the best format for a timed essay, is the traditional 5-paragraph format we all learned in grade school.
Virtually everyone who has had some scholastic writing experience is familiar with this essay format, but for the sake of being thorough, the following is a quick run-down on the 5-paragraph format:
1st Paragraph – Introductory paragraph, contains a clear and well-defined thesis statement
2nd Paragraph – Body paragraph, contains a point supporting the thesis
3rd Paragraph – Body paragraph, contains another, different, point that supports the thesis
4th Paragraph – Body paragraph, contains another, different, point supporting the thesis
5th Paragraph – Concluding paragraph, wraps up the essay, restates the thesis statement
When writing the timed essay in the 5-paragraph format, use these techniques to conserve as much time as possible.
- The Introduction
With the scarcity of time experienced during a timed essay, there is not a great deal of time that can be spent on a flashy introduction. This is in contrast to a regular essay, within which a well thought-out and well-written introduction is important because it can set the tone for the rest of the paper.
A fast and convenient way to put together an introduction that doesn’t require a great deal of thinking is to re-write the essay questions with your own words. The essay question will often contain all the basic information you need to put together a satisfactory introduction, allowing you to spend more time on the rest of the essay.
However, do not simply rewrite the essay question verbatim. Such a practice reflects negatively upon the rest of the paper and sets a bad tone, not to mention that many instructors list this among their top pet peeves.
- Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs are the meat of your essay, and as such it is not advisable to use shortcut methods to save time writing them. However, if you strive to remain clear and concise with your supporting points you will be less likely to eat up a lot of time.
- The Conclusion
Hopefully, if all has gone well, you will have a good amount of time left to construct an excellent conclusion. If you are still pressed for time, or if you are cutting into your final proofreading minutes, a quick and easy way to put together a conclusion is to simply restate your thesis.
However, you must restate the thesis using different words. Restating the thesis word-for-word reeks of poor writing ability and will stand out to those who read and grade your essay.
Save Time for Proofreading
This is easier said than done if you are really pressed for time during a timed essay, but if at all possible you should attempt to allow around five to ten minutes at the end of the period to perform a quick proofread. While proofreading is essential for all essay writing, it becomes even more important during timed essays because students are apt to make even more careless errors than usual because of the rush involved.
Scan for the following common errors during the proofread, because these particular errors stand out the most and give your essay a truly unsatisfactory appearance:
– Subject/Verb agreement
– Spelling/Capitalization errors
– Run-on sentences/Comma splices
– Verb tense