Become familiar with the course content. If the professor hasn`t told you in advance what a timed essay prompt will be, it can be intimidating to think that you will have to write about a subject you`ve never seen before.
It`s important to give context that will help your reader understand your argument. This might involve providing background information, giving an overview of important academic work or debates on the topic, and explaining difficult terms. Don`t provide too much detail in the introduction—you can elaborate in the body of your essay.
Take note of the amount of time allotted for the exam and split it into reasonably-sized segments, leaving some time at the end for revision if possible. Without a schedule to follow, it`s easy to become too focused on a single paragraph and run out of time to finish the essay.
The essay writing process consists of three main stages: 1. Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. 2. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion. 3. Revision: Check the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.
For this reason, it can be helpful to simulate the conditions of a timed exam before the actual day: pick a practice question, find some lined paper, set a stopwatch, and see how you do!
The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay.