How to Write an Essay FAST

How long does it take to write an essay

Your college professor has instructed you to write a one thousand word essay, on a topic of your choosing, and it is due tomorrow. You stare on in disbelieve, a one day turn around?! What are you going to do? Do you buy an essay off of a senior selling their old papers for extra money? No, too risky. Do you drop out? No, your mom would have a fit. Do you fake sick and give yourself an extra day to write it? No, you’d ruin your perfect attendance streak. The pressure is on – how do you write a good essay fast?

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A one thousand word essay, particularly one that requires minimal research, is typically considered to be a short essay. Unlike longer, 10 page or more, essays, you can likely create a polished and well organized essay in an hour.

The trick to outlining an essay

The best way to an essay is to start with an outline. In fact, you will find that having an outline ready not only helps you to organize your thoughts – but it also helps you to write faster; something you are going to want to do when time isn’t on your side.

It is entirely possible to complete an essay – from start to finish – in under an hour. And, that includes the time needed to choose a topic (if one hasn’t been assigned), decide on a few key points to discuss, conduct minimal research and to get your thoughts on paper.

Here are seven essential steps to help you finish an essay fast.

  1. Choose your topic: This should be a no-brainer, however, some people freeze when they are faced with having to pick a topic to write about. If you are given complete creative freedom in choosing your own topic to write about, you should first determine the type of essay that you want to write – do you want to provide the general scope of the topic? Or do you want to deliver a more in-depth analysis? There will always be that one person who, given the same amount of time as you, hands in a Harvard-worthy paper filled with annotations and references, and still has 11 minutes left over to bake cookies for the class. You’re not that person, and that is okay. Pick a topic that you know well – something that you will be able to argue without having to spend too much time researching it.
  2. Create a mock outline or a diagram of your thoughts: Regardless of how much time you put into writing your essay, it will be useless if you are not capable of organizing your thoughts. This means taking the words that are in your mind and writing them down on paper so that you can not only see them, but also determine how they are connected. This will serve as the structure for your paper. In order to create an outline, you will start by writing your subject at the top of a page of paper. From here, list your primary ideas, underneath these, jot down smaller ideas that relate to the larger concepts.
  3. Prepare your thesis statement: After you’ve chosen a topic, and have put your ideas on paper, you are ready to create your thesis statement. A thesis statement expresses to your audience what the overall objective or point of your essay is. Refer back to your outline, what were the main ideas you noted? A thesis statement will have two parts, the first outlining the topic and the second outlining the main objective of the essay.
  4. Write the body paragraphs: This is where you will develop your argument, as well as clearly explain your topic. Every idea that you wrote down in your outline will become a separate paragraph in the body of the essay. Every paragraph should follow the same format. Start by incorporating one of your primary ideas into the introductory sentence. From here, add your supporting, or secondary idea. Remember to use proper sentence format, but you might find it helpful to leave a couple of lines between each point so that you are able to add additional information if needed.
  5. Write the introduction: It may seem foreign to write the beginning after you’ve written the middle, but it makes sense. Here’s why. Now that you’ve clearly gotten your thesis and argument on paper, you can take the information and extrapolate interesting elements that can be reworded to create an introduction that really grabs the attention of the reader. This could be thought provoking information, or specific dialogues, or a quote, a fun fact or even just a summary of the topic you’ve chosen. Whichever you choose, your goal is to make sure that it ties in with your thesis statement – which you will also include at the end of your introduction.
  6. Write your conclusion: The conclusion is your last opportunity to close your topic, restate your argument and to leave the reader with something to think about. A conclusion will consist of three to five really strong sentence. You should not only restate your main points, but also use the opportunity to reinforce your thesis.
  7. Review and edit if needed: After you’ve finished your conclusion, you should not consider your essay to be complete. Not even close. You need to review the paper for completeness. Are your paragraphs in the right order? The strongest argument should be the first and last paragraph in the body, everything else will be in the middle. Does the paper make sense? Are there any spelling or grammatical errors? Have you followed the project guidelines? Is your cover page in order? The little elements, and the small oversights, are what really affect the overall quality of an essay – particularly one that you are creating quickly.

Introduction

The introduction of an essay is, for all intents and purposes, the roadmap to the paper. It lays out for the reader the primary argument and key points that you intend to expand upon in the following paragraphs. Most essay introductions will start with a general statement explaining how the topic relates to a much larger issue. This is often followed up with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is the calculated response to the question being asked in the essay.

There is no golden rule for how long an essay introduction should be.  However, if you are trying to write quickly, you will want to consider the overall length of the complete essay and tailor the length of the introduction so that it makes sense.

Body Paragraphs

The body of your essay is where you will deliver the main argument of your paper, outlining and supporting your main points. In a perfect world, the body paragraphs will consist of textual evidence, references and even a few quotes. However, when tasked with creating a fast and concise essay, you may not have time for all of the fills and extra elements.

Refer to the outline you created earlier, what were you main points? Each point represents one paragraph in the body of your essay. These should be backed up by supporting concepts, and an analysis. Your analysis will comprise most of the paragraph.

Again, there is no hard rule about how many paragraphs the body of your essay needs to have in order to be effective. For time purposes, you may wish to stick with three – each consisting of roughly five sentences.

Conclusion

This is your final opportunity to not only get your point across, but to also leave your audience with something to consider. Depending on what your argument was, you will want to restate your thesis statement, summarize each of your most important points and leave the reader with a solid impression or point to ponder. What you don’t want to do is summarize your essay as a whole, your essay should feel like it is complete – but it should not be closed off. The final paragraph should end the discussion, but leave room for further exploration. This is typically done by ending with a quote, or asking the reader a question.

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