“No, I don´t care that you have exams next week; just hand in the 2000-word essay by Tuesday. You have a week to research and write it, that should suffice.“
There are times in a student´s life when professors seem cruel and heartless. Free time loses its meaning and sleep deprivation follows.
Being able to write effectively is something that can be learned. Basically, writing something is a process, where the different steps can be put on a formula. Sticking to a formula will not only ensure that you do things in the right order, it also ensures that you don't miss any of the steps. While effective writing can be a pivotal skill for any student it will surely also be a valuable ability in your future work-related contexts.
We have listed a step by step guide to write an essay in less than a day - use what you can, and feel free to tweak, so it'll suit you!
(15 minutes) Correct, not all writing assignments require (tons of research)2. Look at the topic and try to think of a) what you already know, b) what you need to research and c) where to find information you are missing (university library is an obvious choice).
(1-2 hours) Don´t use Google. Instead, use you university library search tools to look at various academic journals, papers, articles, books, what have you. Always read the abstract first so that you do not end up reading 200 pages of irrelevant material; remember that time is scarce.
3. References, quotations, citations
(2 minutes per citation, saves up to 2 hours later) Always write down where you found the information so that you do not have to return to the library because you forgot who and where published that particular smart thing.
4. Prepare an outline
(15 minutes) What do you want to say? In what order? Do you want to start with the strongest argument or the weakest one? How many words do you want to devote to each section?…
5. Start writing
(2-3 hours) If you are struggling with the opening, skip it for a moment! If you don´t know how to explain a complicated thought, either drop it altogether or rephrase it in the simplest terms possible (keep in mind that being 100% clear on what you are actually talking about constitutes 50% of success)! One more thing: Write somewhere without Internet connection (or disable your favourite websites for a couple of hours) – you wouldn´t believe how time-consuming these little distractions can be.
(20 minutes) Read the assignment again. Have you included all relevant points? Have you answered the question that was asked? Have you cited every work you either directly or indirectly used? Does your logic make sense? Does the writing “flow”? …
7. Final editing
(up to 1 hour) Incorporate everything you found missing in Step 6, then make the paper look “nice”: Find the optimal spacing between paragraphs, size of headings and subheadings… you get the picture.
Ready, steady – submit!
An essay done from the scratch – finished and out of the way in 7 hours or less. It may not be the best assignment you have ever handed in, you might not have learned as much as your professor would have liked (as the knowledge could not really “sink in” in such a short time span), but it is gone. And at a time before exams.