Summer is here! Summer’s arrival brings with it beaches, swimsuits, ice-cream, barbeques….and summer school. Summer school is a great way to get ahead educationally and complete credits you wouldn’t normally have time to take.
But as great as summer school is for your transcript, be aware that (at least on the college level) it’s still a grueling month of work where you are given 1/3 the time (or less) that you receive in a regular semester to complete one or more essays…. essays that needs to be as thoughtful and well supported as ones written during a regular semester.
When you have to write an essay quickly, you need to approach the writing process a little bit differently. Time is of the essence and you just don’t have the time to fiddle with different approaches to your essay until you find the one you like best. Here are my tips for writing an essay FAST:
1. Skip the Introduction
How many hours have I and others like me spent staring at that blinking cursor waiting for brilliance to strike? So many students have approached me the day before an essay is due and told me “If I could just get started, I’d be fine. I really just need help starting the essay.” Time is a luxury you don’t have, so skip agonizing over the perfect way to begin your essay and get straight to writing the thesis statement.
2. Write Your Main Points
Now that you have a thesis statement, you can get to the meat and potatoes of your essay: supporting that statement. Try to come up with at least 3 main points; that’s enough to get you decent coverage. If you only have 2 main points, they had better be thorough and solid. Because if one of those two points is weak, then your professor will dock you for having only one main point to carry your entire paper – In other words, you put all your eggs in one basket.
3. SUPPORT Your Main Points
If you recall, there are 4 types of evidence. Choose at least 2 types per main point. If you’re trying to hit a certain number of pages: the more types of evidence you have supporting each main point, the longer the essay.
4. Choose an Intro and Conclusion
Now that the body of your paper is finished, you can go back and plug in an introduction and conclusion. If you have the time, you can try to come up with the perfect beginning sentence that will herald brilliance. Chances are, though, you’re out of time and need something that will introduce your topic and provide filler. What I suggest is just randomly choosing one of the 7 introductory techniques available. Each technique will get the job done, so it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you choose. Sure, some will fit your topic better than others, but at this stage in the game, you simply don’t have the time to try each one on and see which fits best. Make absolutely sure that whichever technique you use in your introduction you REPEAT it in your conclusion.
5. Proofread Your Essay
I cannot stress the importance of this last step enough. Most students will consider their work done the moment their essay is written and they will turn it in as is. Proofreading your paper does NOT take that much time and can be the difference between making a passing and failing grade. Yes, your paper was written in a rush and may be a tad short of brilliant, but your teacher doesn’t know that. Present your paper in the proper format and with as few grammatical mistakes as possible so that it LOOKS like an A paper, even if it isn’t. There’s a very good chance that your teacher has stacks of papers s/he needs to grade and a very limited amount of time to do it. Summer school isn’t just hard on students; teachers suffer their way through it too. You don’t want to give away any advantage you have so the little bit of time it takes to make sure your paper is clean-cut and pretty is well worth the potential pay-off if your teacher is running behind on grading.
Really, the FASTEST way to write an essay is to plagiarize it, but you’ve already seen the reasons that road is a bad one to take. My proposed method for getting an essay written in a minimal amount of time still requires work – that’s something you just can’t avoid. Hopefully breaking the steps down for you will cut down on the amount of work you do have to do and help you get through each essay as painlessly as possible.
Good luck and don’t forget to take some time to hit the beach and catch some sun – it IS summer time, after all :).Photo credit: Klearchos