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9 Tips to Ace That Timed Essay

Exams are almost upon us, and a familiar sense of foreboding has settled over the campus. One exam element that can be particularly intimidating for some students is the timed essay: an exam question which demands a full essay on a topic that is typically revealed for the first time during the test. While these kinds of questions may seem scary, there are plenty of ways to make them easy for yourself. Read on for tips about how to prepare in advance of the exam and how to approach timed essays before, during, and after the writing process.

While Preparing for the Exam: 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. However, this thinking process does not reflect the reality of the situation. In fact, even if your teacher hasn’t given you any hints about the essay question, you do know what it will be about: the concepts and ideas you’ve discussed in the course. Therefore, if you take the time to review your notes and ensure you understand everything that was discussed, it should be difficult for the essay question to catch you off guard. As soon as you read the question, relevant course concepts will start popping into your head, and you’ll just have to organize them into a coherent essay. Start planning if you can. Although the situation described above sometimes occurs, it’s also very common for professors to give their students a fairly detailed idea of what an essay question will involve in advance of the test day. (After all, professors want to mark high-quality essays written by well-prepared students!) This heads-up gives you a great chance to prepare for the exam. If you have the time, consider mapping out a possible essay in point form before the day of the exam arrives. Consider practicing writing under time pressure. You’ve probably written dozens of essays before--the only thing that sets a timed essay apart is that it’s timed. Students often struggle to complete the full essay within the time constraints, particularly if they have to write longhand when they’re accustomed to working on the computer. 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! Before You Start Writing: Read the question carefully. The most critical part of the essay-writing process actually happens before you write your first word. When you flip to the essay question, make sure you read it as carefully as you can, noting the difference between words such as ‘contrast’ and ‘analyze’ and highlighting any details which the professor specifically instructs you to include. It’s not uncommon for excellent essays to receive low marks because the student answered a question other than the one that was asked. Make a clear and specific plan. Some students react to the time pressure of essay exams by scribbling down their introduction as soon as they’ve read the question and figuring out their points as they go. While it might seem counter-intuitive, taking five or ten minutes before you start writing in order to draw up a plan will be an enormous time saver. Decide on your thesis, the topic of each paragraph, and the arguments which you intend to cover, then jot down some quick point-form notes. This process won’t take long, and, once you complete it, all that’s left will be to expand those notes into a well-organized essay. Without a clear plan, you run the risk of realizing partway through that you’ve drifted off topic or written yourself into a corner, and fixing these mistakes will consume a ton of extra time. Schedule a set time for each paragraph. On the topic of planning, it’s important to sketch out an idea of how long you want to spend on each section of your essay. (If you know the number of paragraphs you’ll need to write ahead of time, you can do this before the exam even starts!) 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. While You’re Writing: Write clearly and double-space. This tip may seem basic, but it’s easy to forget and it can make a big difference. Both these measures won’t just make it easier for the marker to read your paper; they'll also help you write it. If you have time left at the end of the exam for review, having the ability to skim quickly through your work and write revisions in blank spaces will be incredibly helpful.

Keep yourself on schedule.  Remember the paragraph-based schedule we discussed above? It’ll be useless if you don’t do regular check-ins during the exam. Keep an eye on the clock to ensure you’re always on track. If you realize that you’re falling dangerously behind schedule, it might be necessary to cut some arguments or examples you planned to include. Although making these omissions can be painful, it’s better to leave out a few points from one section than to leave out an entire paragraph because you ran out of time. Don’t worry too much about editing and revision before you finish. When composing essays, many students stop and read over each paragraph once they finish it, making sure that it’s well-written and free of errors before advancing to the next one. This approach is entirely logical when there’s no time pressure involved, but it can actually work against you during an exam. Perfecting paragraphs is a time-consuming process, and, if you spend too much time editing before the essay is finished, you might have to rush through the last few sections or leave them out entirely. For this reason, it’s best to focus on producing a complete first draft before you worry about edits and revisions.

After You’ve Finished Writing: Re-read the question and ensure you’ve addressed all parts. The most important part of writing an essay exam is ensuring that you’re answering the question was posed. Even if you made sure you were interpreting everything correctly before you began, you may have forgotten to address a subquestion or integrate an example as you were writing. Before you submit, read the prompt again and make sure your completed essay matches up! Edit if you have time. If you have enough time left over, read your essay again and make corrections. When you’re working under time pressure, it’s easy to make grammar mistakes or produce hard-to-follow sentences; the final few minutes are your chance to clean up those errors. Unless if you finished way ahead of schedule, don’t worry about major revisions like reorganizing the structure of the essay--it’s better to hand in an essay with an imperfect structure than a paper that’s impossible to follow because you had to stop halfway through the revision process.

Remember to have the right perspective. Once you hand your exam to the professor, relax! It’s easy to work yourself up after an essay exam when you didn’t get the chance to read your work over or you feel like your arguments were weak. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your professor understands the circumstances under which the essay was written. They’re fully aware of the time pressure you were dealing with, and they will judge your work far differently than they would judge a typical essay with a deadline set weeks after the assignment date. If you did your best to write a complete, clear, and insightful essay within the time allotted, you should have nothing to worry about. Best of luck during the upcoming exam season!

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How to Prepare for Timed Writing Exercises

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One of the latest trends in the admissions world is requiring timed writing exercises. This new piece of the application puzzle has been popping up in the admissions process for competitive high schools and specialized BS and postgraduate programs.

The thought of crafting a succinct and meaningful response to a mystery prompt in one sitting is enough to send shivers down even the greatest of writers’ spines. luckily for you, there are still ways you can prepare for this unique assignment. , what’s the point.

The timed writing assignment serves to test your ability to write concisely, think critically on your feet, and articulate your thoughts in a clear and organized manner. With practice, you can train yourself to do this on command, and fairly well at that! 

What will the prompt be like?

Of course, it’s impossible to know the prompt before sitting down to complete the assignment. (That’s kind of the point!) That being said, here are a few examples of timed writing prompts circulating in the admissions world:

What is a topic, activity or idea that excites you? Tell us why. Examples may include hobbies, books, music, podcasts, movies, etc.    Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and how.   Describe something you have accomplished over a significant amount of time.    Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt and learn from a difficulty. Reflect on a time when you have exhibited resilience. What growth did you see in yourself after this experience?   Describe a situation in which you came into contact with someone whose beliefs were different from your own. What did you learn from this experience and were your beliefs altered in any way? 

The common thread connecting all of these prompts is you! Admissions will likely provide a prompt that is fairly personal because they want to learn more about the person behind the application.

How does one prepare?

Set a timer for the amount of time you think you’ll have to complete the assignment. If you’re not sure how much time you’ll be given, start with ten minutes. Then attack it like this:

Choose a sample question for practice. Spend the first whole minute reading the prompt. Sit with it. Reflect on it. Make sure you fully understand what is being asked of you and then begin generating an initial concept of what you might like to say in response.

Next, jot down a quick thesis statement, the main point that you’d like to communicate through your writing. From there, think about:

  • An introduction
  • Two to three supporting points
  • A conclusion

This outline is going to be very helpful for organization’s sake. Of course, since time is precious, there is a balance to be struck regarding how much time you take to construct beautiful verbose sentences. Try not to linger on every word, especially at the beginning of the writing process; an unexciting written word is always better than the perfect unique one that is stuck on the tip of your tongue! You’ll remember what it is you were thinking of about three hours after you’ve finished and submitted the exercise. (We don’t know why it works like this, it just does!) So, get out what you can and don’t stress over perfection.

Try, if you can, to leave yourself the last few minutes to read your response over and eliminate any obvious mistakes . Fill in any holes in your argument, double check your use of punctuation, and make sure you answered all parts of the question.

When you’re done, stand up, walk away from your computer, grab a snack, stretch, then come back. Reread everything you wrote. Consider what could be stronger and assess what someone reading this short essay might like to know that you hadn’t addressed. If you’d like, ask a trusted friend or relative to read your response and ask them for their honest assessment. 

Finally, there’s only one thing left to do, rinse and repeat. The more practice you have under your belt, the more likely you’ll be able to execute well on the day of the timed writing exercise. Try doing this exercise a few times a week, no fewer than five or six times before you have to sit down to do the real thing. 

We bet you’ll find that with each attempt, you’ll be able to work more quickly and better envision your draft using the outline format we mentioned above.

What are the pitfalls? 

Part of the challenge and beauty of the timed writing exercise is that you have to build up the confidence to commit to whatever topic you choose. It’s highly unlikely that you will have time to start over if you decide your idea isn’t giving as much as you had hoped, so whatever you decide to write about, stick with it and follow it through until the end. 

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: no one is submitting a perfect essay in a timed writing exercise. And admissions isn’t looking for perfection but is, rather, evaluating your ability to communicate within a set amount of time. Take a deep breath before you begin and trust yourself.

Any final tips?

If you’re applying to a specific specialized program, see if you can find examples online of past questions to get a better sense of what you can expect. The question will likely ask about your interest, motivation, and/or goals. It might be a good idea to draft a short list of reasons why you’re pursuing this career path, qualities that make you a great candidate for this line of work, and stories or anecdotes that demonstrate these reasons or qualities.

Thinking about this in advance might also help if you find yourself stumped by a question. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, we encourage you to think about the things you want admissions to know about you, then see if you can work backward and finesse your response to include some of those highlights. Happy writing! 🙂

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Writing Under Time Pressure: Crafting Quality Content

Writing Under Time Pressure: Crafting Quality Content

When it comes to the art of writing under time pressure, there's an intriguing aspect of human communication that's worth noting: the average person speaks at a rate of about 125 to 150 words per minute. This seemingly mundane statistic takes on great significance when we consider that, in the realm of timed essays, every minute counts. Whether you're facing a standardized test, an entrance examination, or even a workplace challenge, you'll find yourself racing against the clock to articulate your thoughts effectively. In this race, time may not be your greatest ally, but fear not! We are here to provide you with the finest tips on how to write an essay under the constraints of time.

Writing Under Time Pressure: Short Description

In this comprehensive article, our professional essay writers will delve into a multitude of proven strategies and techniques that will empower you to compose compelling essays under pressure. We'll provide you with a rich toolkit of tips for timed essay practice, an outline, and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section, all aimed at empowering you to master how to write a timed essay when seconds are slipping away. From time management to structuring your essay effectively and conquering writer's block, our goal is to ensure your words shine brightly even within the confines of strict time constraints.

Understanding What Is a Timed Essay

A timed essay is the written equivalent of a sprint in the world of academic and professional writing. It's a structured challenge where you're tasked with crafting a thoughtful and coherent essay within a limited timeframe, often under exam conditions or tight deadlines. The catch? Time is your most precious resource, and the clock ticks relentlessly as you brainstorm, outline, write, and revise your composition.

This unique form of writing evaluates not just your knowledge of the subject matter but also your ability to think on your feet, organize your thoughts swiftly, and communicate effectively under pressure. It's an art form that demands practice, strategy, and the ability to keep your cool when the seconds are slipping away.

How Long Should a Timed Essay Be?

The ideal length of a limited-time essay can vary depending on the specific instructions you receive, but a general rule of thumb is to aim for a concise yet comprehensive composition. In many cases, you may be given a suggested word count or a specific number of paragraphs to include. However, when no such guidelines are provided, it's wise to aim for an essay that is around 300 to 500 words, typically consisting of an introduction, three to four main body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This length allows you to present a well-structured argument or discussion without delving too deeply into unnecessary details. 

Furthermore, while crafting your essay, it's crucial to pay close attention to how to avoid and fix plagiarism in your essay . Plagiarism involves using someone else's ideas, words, or work without proper attribution, which can have serious academic consequences. To steer clear of plagiarism, always cite your sources properly, whether you're quoting directly or paraphrasing. Additionally, familiarize yourself with your institution's guidelines on academic integrity and plagiarism prevention.

Remember, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to timed essays. It's essential to focus on clarity, coherence, and relevance within the constraints of your allotted time.

How to Prepare for a Timed Essay: 9 Key Tips

Preparing for a timed essay is not just about mastering the content; it's about honing your time-management, organizational, and writing skills to perform at your best under pressure. Here are some essential tips on how to prepare for a timed essay effectively from our expert custom essay service :

how to prepare for timed essay

Timed Essay Format Outline

When time is of the essence, having a clear and efficient essay format outline can be a lifesaver. Here's a straightforward timed essay outline from our assignment writing services that you can adapt to various essay topics:

I. Introduction

  • Hook or Attention-Grabber
  • Thesis Statement (Your main argument or position)
  • Preview of Main Points

II. Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic Sentence (First main point)
  • Supporting Evidence or Example
  • Explanation or Analysis
  • Transition to the Next Paragraph

III. Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic Sentence (Second main point)

IV. Body Paragraph 3 (Optional)

  • Topic Sentence (Third main point)

V. Counterargument (Optional)

  • Acknowledge opposing viewpoints
  • Refute counterarguments

VI. Conclusion

  • Restate Thesis Statement
  • Summarize Main Points
  • Concluding Statement or Call to Action

how to prepare for timed essays

Tips on Timed Essay

Our skilled writers who you can easily order essay online from, have some timed essay tips that will help you enhance your performance in these papers. When unsure how to focus when doing a timed essay, remember that practice is key to success! So, make it a habit to practice writing under time constraints to build your confidence and proficiency.

tips on timed essay

How Do You Write a Timed Essay?

When you're racing against the clock to compose an essay, effective time management and focus are essential. Here are tips on how to write a timed essay and tackle each section of your outline under pressure:

1. Use Abbreviations:

  • Employ common abbreviations (e.g., 'govt' for government) to save time when typing or writing.
  • Ensure your abbreviations are clear and widely recognized to prevent confusion.

2. Skip Tricky Parts Temporarily:

  • If you encounter a particularly challenging section, don't get stuck. Move on and return to it later.
  • Prioritize completing the parts you're confident in first to maximize your word count.

3. Write in Bullet Points (if allowed):

  • When time is tight, bullet points can be more efficient than full sentences. Check timed essay samples to see how it works.
  • Use bullet points to outline your ideas or evidence quickly, then flesh them out when you have more time.

4. Keep Sentences Short and to the Point:

  • Avoid lengthy, convoluted sentences. Aim for clear and concise communication.
  • Shorter sentences are often easier to construct and comprehend under pressure.

5. Embrace Imperfections:

  • Accept that you might make minor errors or overlook refinements in a timed essay.
  • Prioritize getting your ideas down over perfection.

Can You Write an Essay in 40 Minutes?

Yes, you can write an essay in 40 minutes, but efficiency and focus are key. A well-planned outline, concise writing, and a clear thesis statement will be your allies. Practice is essential to hone your skills and improve your time management. Remember, while quality is important, meeting the basic requirements of the essay prompt should be your primary goal when time is limited.

Which Step Should You Skip When Writing an Essay During a Timed Exam?

When writing an essay during a timed exam, it's often necessary to skip the step of extensive revision and rewriting. In this high-pressure situation, you should prioritize the completion of your essay within the allotted time. Instead of going back to revise and rewrite extensively, which can consume precious minutes, focus on proofreading for glaring errors. This means checking for spelling and punctuation errors and ensuring that your sentences are clear and comprehensible. While revision is crucial for refining a paper's quality, during a timed essay exam, it's more important to ensure you address the core components of the prompt and manage your time effectively.

Is the SAT Essay Timed?

Certainly, the SAT Essay is a timed section of the SAT exam. Test takers are given a total of 50 minutes to complete this optional essay component. During this time, you'll need to read a provided passage, analyze the author's argument, and construct your own well-organized essay response. Effective time management is one of the crucial study tips to ace your exams and to have enough time to plan, write, and revise your essay within the 50-minute window.

Closing Remarks

In the realm of timed essays, preparation is your ally. Armed with a clear plan on how to write a strong timed essay, efficient strategies, and practiced skills, you can confidently face the ticking clock and emerge with well-crafted essays that shine under pressure. If this still feels overwhelming, you can always submit a ‘ write my essay online ’  request, and we'll handle any assignment for you. Regardless of your approach, embrace the challenge, dedicate yourself to practice, and master the art of writing within constraints!

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How to Conquer the Timed Essay Test—5 Dos and Don’ts

Try these instead.

student thinking with a chalk board background taking a test

Strategies for Writers is a proven-effective, standards-based writing and grammar solution that teaches students to use the writing process and six traits of writing to become effective writers—and how to apply this knowledge to written assessments.

The Next Generation Assessment Edition of Strategies for Writers equips educators with the tools they need to raise writing results.

Download up to nine free Strategies for Writers lesson plans complete with teacher and student pages.

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Teach your students these five “thinking mistakes” to avoid and what to do instead. (Download the poster version below).

1. “Just skim the question. Don’t waste time reading it. Save time wherever you can!

No do this:.

Take the time to read the question carefully (even if your neighbors are already type-type-typing as fast as they can). This is your calm before the storm: Circle key words and think about how you might restate those words in your essay.

2. “Start writing as fast as you can, even if youhave no idea what your so-called ‘thesis statement’ and ‘supporting details’ are going to be. You’ll figure it out eventually!”

Think of it as an episode of The Amazing Race. You need a game plan or you’ll undoubtedly get lost along the way. That’s why it’s worth the time to make an outline before you begin. It doesn’t have to be fancy—just a few bullet points can help pull you through to the finish line.

3. “Stop looking at the clock. It’ll just make you nervous.”

While a time check might give you the queasies, so will the “pencils down” announcement when you’re only halfway through your essay. Keep a loose plan for your time in mind, e.g., 5 minutes for your introduction, 30 minutes for the argument, 10 minutes for the conclusion and 5 minutes for proofreading.

4. “Keep it general. You don’t want to sound too opinionated.”

As long as you have a strong topic sentence and provide evidence to support it, you’re golden. In fact, teachers generally LOVE ideas they’ve never heard before, so if you’ve got a different outlook and supporting evidence, go for it!

5. “If you finish early, pat yourself on the back and leave. You’ve got this!”

While it’s super-tempting to get that test out of your hands, taking the time to proofread your essay for grammar, missing words and proper punctuation could help your essay score. Keep in mind that it’s not a race to the hallway! Slow down and do your best.

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How to Prepare for a Timed Writing Exam

How to Prepare for a Timed Writing Exam

Timed essays are a favorite for standardized tests and college exams. They not only test your knowledge, but they test your ability to develop a coherent argument under pressure. The secret to a timed writing exam is preparation beforehand and avoiding rushing on the day of the exam. Here are some tips on how to write a great timed essay.

Manage Your Stress

One cause of poor performance on timed essays is anxiety. There are lots of scientific studies that show how anxiety affects brain function. If you’re stressed while reading the prompt, you may not even be able to understand it, let alone formulate a good response to it.

If you feel yourself starting to panic when the proctor or professor starts the clock, take a moment to calm yourself down. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Count to twenty. Then slowly open your eyes and with a calm mind start reading the essay prompt. Another thing that helps with stress is preparation. Find out which things can make you fail and how to avoid them!

Do Some Practice Runs

You won’t know the topic beforehand, but if you actually sit down and do a couple of practice essays on some plausible topics, you’ll be able to see where your weaknesses lie and how you can address them. For example, did you rush into the writing without thinking it through first? Did you need to go back and revise? Did you have enough time to make a sensible revision? Practicing first will not only help you remain more calm when it’s show time, it will also help you learn to pace yourself.

Think Before You Write

After reading the topic, give yourself some time to let your thoughts on it formulate. If you jump right in to your first idea, you may miss an opportunity to write an even better, more well-formed essay. A good way to decide what to write is to jot down notes on the different ideas that come up and then choose which one you think is the best one.

Make an Outline

Again, resist the urge to just start scribbling and dedicate time to preparing your essay first. Making an outline where you line up the points you wish to touch on will help guide your writing. It will also prevent you from forgetting what you wanted to say, a common problem with timed essays due to stress and pressure.

Make Sure You’re Answering the Question

Another common pitfall to avoid is failing to address the prompt. Again, this problem can be circumvented by slowing down. While making your outline, keep referring to the prompt. Does each part of your outline answer it? If not, what has to be changed to make sure you stay on course?

Don’t Write Filler

Even though this is a timed essay, you should dedicate your efforts to writing quality statements. Don’t write just to fill the space. This can be particularly tempting when writing the introduction which is where it’s most important for you to get to the point. Your thesis statement at the end of your introductory paragraph should be well-defined and strong. This will help the flow of the rest of your essay so give it your best effort.

Revision Tips

What if you followed all of the above advice but in the middle of writing had a new idea that would change your essay? Here you have to make a decision. Is the new idea so much better that it warrants changing your essay structure for it? AND do you have enough time to revise completely?

If so, then go back and revise the parts you’ve written so far. If you’re writing on paper, make sure you skip a line to leave room for revisions. On a computer, it’s much easier to revise, but you also run the risk of deleting work you wish to use later. If you’re revising on a computer, put the parts you want to take out in brackets. After you’ve finished writing and are doing a final edit , go back and take out the parts that are unnecessary.

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The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay | Steps & Examples

An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.

There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentative — they aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.

The essay writing process consists of three main stages:

  • Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
  • Writing : Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
  • Revision:  Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

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Table of contents

Essay writing process, preparation for writing an essay, writing the introduction, writing the main body, writing the conclusion, essay checklist, lecture slides, frequently asked questions about writing an essay.

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 .

For example, if you’ve been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you’ll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay , on the other hand, you’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you start writing.

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how to prepare for timed essays

Before you start writing, you should make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. There are a few key steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
  • Define a topic: If you’re allowed to choose your own topic , try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
  • Do your research: Read  primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You’ll use these as evidence for your points.
  • Come up with a thesis:  The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.
  • Create an outline: Map out the rough structure of your essay in an outline . This makes it easier to start writing and keeps you on track as you go.

Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you’ll use, you’re ready to start writing.

The introduction sets the tone for your essay. It should grab the reader’s interest and inform them of what to expect. The introduction generally comprises 10–20% of the text.

1. Hook your reader

The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the hook. It might be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement emphasizing the relevance of the topic.

Let’s say we’re writing an essay about the development of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a strong statement about the topic:

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

2. Provide background on your topic

Next, 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.

3. Present the thesis statement

Next, you should formulate your thesis statement— the central argument you’re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long. The thesis statement for our essay on Braille could look like this:

As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.

4. Map the structure

In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.

The invention of Braille marked a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Write your essay introduction

The body of your essay is where you make arguments supporting your thesis, provide evidence, and develop your ideas. Its purpose is to present, interpret, and analyze the information and sources you have gathered to support your argument.

Length of the body text

The length of the body depends on the type of essay. On average, the body comprises 60–80% of your essay. For a high school essay, this could be just three paragraphs, but for a graduate school essay of 6,000 words, the body could take up 8–10 pages.

Paragraph structure

To give your essay a clear structure , it is important to organize it into paragraphs . Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.

That idea is introduced in a  topic sentence . The topic sentence should generally lead on from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be made in this paragraph. Transition words can be used to create clear connections between sentences.

After the topic sentence, present evidence such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources. Be sure to interpret and explain the evidence, and show how it helps develop your overall argument.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

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The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10–15% of the text . A strong essay conclusion :

  • Returns to your thesis
  • Ties together your main points
  • Shows why your argument matters

A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final impression.

What not to include in a conclusion

To make your essay’s conclusion as strong as possible, there are a few things you should avoid. The most common mistakes are:

  • Including new arguments or evidence
  • Undermining your arguments (e.g. “This is just one approach of many”)
  • Using concluding phrases like “To sum up…” or “In conclusion…”

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

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Checklist: Essay

My essay follows the requirements of the assignment (topic and length ).

My introduction sparks the reader’s interest and provides any necessary background information on the topic.

My introduction contains a thesis statement that states the focus and position of the essay.

I use paragraphs to structure the essay.

I use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.

Each paragraph has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement.

I make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas.

My conclusion doesn’t just repeat my points, but draws connections between arguments.

I don’t introduce new arguments or evidence in the conclusion.

I have given an in-text citation for every quote or piece of information I got from another source.

I have included a reference page at the end of my essay, listing full details of all my sources.

My citations and references are correctly formatted according to the required citation style .

My essay has an interesting and informative title.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (e.g. font, page numbers, line spacing).

Your essay meets all the most important requirements. Our editors can give it a final check to help you submit with confidence.

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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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How to Prepare for an Essay Exam

Last Updated: April 20, 2023

This article was co-authored by Michelle Golden, PhD . Michelle Golden is an English teacher in Athens, Georgia. She received her MA in Language Arts Teacher Education in 2008 and received her PhD in English from Georgia State University in 2015. This article has been viewed 137,181 times.

The dreaded essay exam. Whether you like it or not, at some point in your life you are certain to encounter an exam composed entirely of essays. In the days leading up to the exam you may feel anxious or downright sick to your stomach. Fortunately, with a little bit of preparation and practice, you can turn any pre-exam jitters into a feeling of confidence, which will allow you to successfully tackle any essay exam.

Participating in Class

Step 1 Go to class.

  • Actively participate. It’s important to find a participation method that works for you, whether that’s asking thought-provoking questions or commenting on the reading. Active participation just means involving yourself in some way, so even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking at length in front of your peers, try to ask a question every now and then.
  • Free yourself from distractions. Put away your cell phone or tablet and concentrate on listening and taking good notes. Now is not the time to work on homework for another class or to catch up with friends on Facebook.

Step 2 Take notes.

  • Always have a notebook on hand. It is helpful to use one notebook per subject or course, so that you don’t confuse yourself when looking back.
  • Be sure to date your notes so that you can quickly reference or find the subject material covered on the exam.
  • If you struggle with taking notes, ask the instructor if you can record the lecture. You can then go back and listen to the recording and either take notes at your own pace or review any parts of the lecture, which will be relevant for the exam.

Step 3 Do the readings.

  • Take notes on what you’ve read and have questions ready for class.
  • Follow the schedule for reading assignments. Typically readings are broken out in a way that is both manageable and topical. If, however, you find yourself unable to keep up with the readings, speak with your instructor about a schedule that suits your particular needs. For example, if readings are assigned for every other day of class, you may need to break it out such that you are reading a portion every day.

Reviewing the Material

Step 1 Collect your notes from class.

  • In addition to having one notebook per course, it may be helpful to also have an individual course binder or folder, which contains all course materials.
  • Take your organization to the next level by categorizing according to exams. Don’t throw away previous notes or materials from past exams. They may come in handy for midterm or final exams. Instead, organize the materials as if they were chapters, with chapter one being the first exam and so forth and so on.

Step 2 Find a quiet place to study.

  • Limit phone calls and any other distractions such as texting. It might help to turn your phone and other devices to silent mode while you’re studying.
  • The TV should always be off while you’re preparing for an exam.
  • If you want to listen to music, be sure it’s something that is relaxing or peaceful. Also, keep the music at a low level. Otherwise, music can easily become a distraction.

Step 3 Review class materials.

  • Get into the habit of reviewing class materials after each course. This will help to ease anxiety leading up to the exam, as you won’t have as much to review and will be able to clear up any questions that arise, prior to the big day.
  • Cramming doesn’t work. Multiple studies have shown that spacing out learning was more effective than cramming. [2] X Research source What’s more, cramming only increases the feeling of desperation which leads to panic, and then to test anxiety.

Step 4 Look for potential...

  • Creating an outline will also come in handy when drafting essay responses, so give yourself some practice and start with your class materials.

Practicing Ahead of Time

Step 1 Understand the structure of an essay.

  • Don’t wait until the night before to outline answers. As you’re studying and organizing your class materials, come up with potential questions along the way. You can then go back and review and revise as necessary.
  • Some instructors do specify a word count for essays. Don’t focus on counting words though. Write what you can and look for opportunities to flesh out your answers without being overly wordy.

Step 3 Recognize different types of questions.

  • Identify - typically short and direct answers will do.
  • Explain - requires a more detailed answer.
  • Compare - look for connections.
  • Argue - address this from your own perspective.

Step 4 Revise your answers.

  • This is a good opportunity to proofread your work and to look for any grammatical errors as well.
  • Have a friend, parent or peer look over your essay as well. It is often helpful to have a fresh set of eyes review your work and provide feedback.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • For open-notes or open-book tests, study thoroughly anyway. This will prepare you for other exams or tests where you're not allowed to use notes, and will allow for you to complete the test faster and easier because you won't need to search for everything in the book or your notes. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Be positive. If you are negative and believe you will not do well, chances are that you will perform the way you expect to. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Practice writing. Be sure you can write fairly well in other situations so that you can express your ideas clearly. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About this article

Michelle Golden, PhD

If you’re worried about an upcoming essay exam, start reviewing your class notes by topic. One helpful way to prepare for your essay exam is to create a potential outline for each theme. For example, if you’re studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, you might come up with an essay outline about the themes of the play. Once you have a few of these outlines, do practice essays at home under timed conditions, using old exams or questions you can see from your outline. Additionally, make it easier to prepare for future exams by attending all classes, doing the assigned readings and taking clear notes. Keep reading for more tips, including how to understand what the essay questions are asking of you. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to prepare for timed essays

Strategies for Timed Essays

Timed essay tests can bring about a great deal of stress for students. The ticking clock is certainly a catalyst when it comes to test anxiety; however, the unknown components of an timed essay test are also daunting. The fact of the matter is, timed writing tasks will be a standard aspect of every student’s education at some point. Another fact, thankfully, is that there are strategies that students can employ to conquer these seemingly insurmountable timed essays.

Reread the prompt and put it into your own words

When students sit down to take an essay assessment, the clock begins counting down and nerves often take over. In a time-crunch, many students follow the impulse to put pencil to paper as quickly as possible and write until their wrists can take no more. The issue, however, arises when the completed essay fails to actually address the prompt or essay question. To avoid this, students should first carefully reread the prompt in an effort to put it into their own words. By rephrasing the question, students ensure that they fully comprehend what the prompt is asking and are able to more specifically begin to address it in their writing.

Spend 3-5 minutes drafting a simple outline

The few minutes that students spend sketching a plan for their essay will be returned twofold in the sense that, with this quick roadmap, they will have to spend less time figuring out the general direction of each paragraph since the essay is already loosely mapped out. The outline should include only bulleted information, not complete sentences. Page numbers for direct quotes or other references are also helpful on the outline. While each essay and outline will obviously vary, the same components are usually suggested for informational, argumentative, or expository responses.

  • A general statement, in which the topic, subject, theme, or concept is very generally introduced.
  • A specific statement, in which the general statement is given some specificity, elaboration, clarification, etc.
  • A thesis statement, in which the argument, claim, or goal of the response is introduced.
  • Transition words to organize the points, evidence, support, etc., in order of importance.
  • Introduction to the text evidence by title and/or author.
  • Direct quotes to support the original thesis statement or claim made in the introduction.
  • Interpretation of the quotes and explicit statement of how the quotes support the claim or argument.
  • A restatement of the thesis; advanced writers in middle and high school grades should work to rephrase the thesis statement. The overall claim or argument is the same; however, the wording is varied to avoid redundancy.
  • A final confirmation of the texts that were referenced and how they specifically relate to the topic or prompt.
  • A final statement to again generalize the purpose of the essay. **Students should get in the habit of using words directly from the prompt in their introduction and conclusion paragraphs to ensure that their responses are thoroughly and clearly connected to the prompt.

Reread each paragraph individually

It helps to read a response with fresh eyes to determine that writing is consistent and relative to the purpose of the prompt. If students have time at the end of a timed writing assessment, it is beneficial to reread each paragraph individually, referring back to the prompt in between paragraphs to ensure that each component (paragraph) serves its purpose and clearly answers the prompt.

Don’t get hung up on spelling

Unless otherwise specified by the teacher, students should avoid spending too much time contemplating spelling errors. Most often, timed essays are scored on content, including word choice, sentence structure or variation, and other content-driven writing skills. Therefore, perseverating over spelling is generally unnecessary. Instead, students should spend their time crafting and honing their argument.

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Teaching timed writing: Beyond the SAT

by Kim Kautzer | Aug 1, 2016 | College Prep , Essays & Research Papers , High school

Teaching timed writing: Beyond the SAT • WriteShop - Even if teens opt out of taking the essay portion of the SAT, timed writing is a vital skill for college coursework.

In 2005, the College Board added an essay portion to the SAT, causing panic among parents and students alike. Writing, an admitted weakness among many homeschooling families , had become a required element of this benchmark college entrance exam.

The SAT essay has come under fire in recent years. It seems scorers were more concerned with how students developed their points than whether those arguments were developed logically—or even truthfully. So as of 2016, the SAT essay is not only revised, it is now optional.

Does this mean you can breathe a sigh of relief and set timed writing aside? Absolutely not. For even though timed essays seem synonymous with college entrance exams, there is actually a more valid reason for teaching timed writing during your teens’ high school years: college itself .

College-bound students have the most to gain from learning to write timed essays. Most courses will require timed writing of various lengths for tests, midterms, and finals. Exams can be scary! But if you’ve prepared your students well and given them lots of experience practicing against the clock, the process will become more intuitive and they’ll be able to tackle timed essays with courage.

Begin with Basic Essay Skills

High schoolers need to know how to plan, organize, and write a solid essay . Before you dip your toes in the waters of timed writing, spend plenty of time teaching general essay skills. Start with a widely accepted model: introduction, body (developing three main points), and conclusion . Once students feel comfortable developing a simple essay and supporting each point with details, they’ll have more confidence to write timed essays.

Teach these essay-writing basics, which apply to both timed and untimed writing:

  • Understand what the prompt is asking. Read it carefully and highlight key words .
  • Choose your position .
  • Write an outline .
  • Write a thesis statement that makes your claim.
  • Stay on topic. Back up claims with evidence and examples.
  • Write concisely . Avoid repeating yourself.
  • Use good grammar and punctuation.
  • Review and revise .

Essay Prompts and Key Words

Students should feel comfortable arguing, explaining, or analyzing a point. So along with teaching basic essay structure, introduce different kinds of essays. This prepares them to respond to a variety of prompts.

Essay questions include “key words” that give clues about the kind of writing that’s expected. Here are three common essay types and sample key words to watch for:

  • Argumentative essays defend a position on a topic. Key words include justify, prove, agree or disagree, argue for or against, should you or should you not, why or why not.
  • Expository essays inform or explain. Key words include define, describe, demonstrate, tell how, illustrate, explain, outline the steps needed, compare or contrast, distinguish between, show cause and effect.
  • Analytical essays examine information or literature. ( The new SAT essays are analytical .) Key words include interpret, examine, evaluate, give reasons, propose a solution, discuss strengths and weaknesses.

Timed writing can make students feel rushed. If in their haste they misread key words, they may not answer the prompt correctly—which will seriously impact their grade .

While the new SAT essay provides students with informational passages to read, an in-class timed essay will require them to know the material in advance . If using a textbook for history, literature, or science, look for essay questions at the end of each chapter. You can also come up with your own. Any subject you’re studying can offer an excellent launching place for an interesting essay—timed or untimed.

When developing your own questions, incorporate some of the key words mentioned earlier to stimulate critical thinking . For example:

  • Argumentative: Do you agree or disagree that the New Deal was successful in solving the major problems of the Great Depression?
  • Expository: Explain how photosynthesis happens. Or, what steps can be taken to restore citizens’ confidence in the political process? Who should legislate these steps?
  • Analytical: What were the positive and negative outcomes of British colonialism in India?

Sometimes professors will include several essay questions to choose from. You can try this too! Giving choices frees your teen to write about the topic he feels most prepared for, making the practice session less stressful. Here are two possible prompts that could follow an ocean study:

  • Argumentative : Should the United States support the protection of coral reefs by developing artificial reefs to replace those that are in decline? Why or why not?
  • Expository : Discuss the causes and effects of marine pollution.

Prepare for Timed Writing

Once students can identify key words and develop and polish essays in a pressure-free setting, they are ready to begin writing against the clock . During this training period, your goal is to build confidence, familiarity, and ease through regular practice. Give plenty of grace!

Topic-specific timed essays require advance preparation . Share these tips with students:

  • Don’t procrastinate. Take time to study, review notes, and skim key passages.
  • Memorize important names, dates, and facts. The more details you tuck away, the easier it will be to solidly support your arguments.
  • If an exam is “open book,” you still need to study so you don’t lose time on test day. Make note cards with page numbers and quotes. Bookmark pages. Use a highlighter or sticky notes to mark key passages .

To give hands-on experience, assign subject-related timed writing at least twice a month. Use these early timed essays to walk your teen through an essay and teach him to pace himself. Demonstrate how to break the process down, allowing a certain number of minutes for planning, writing, and proofreading.

25-minute essay

  • 3-5 minutes to brainstorm, outline, write the thesis
  • 15-17 minutes to write the essay
  • 5 minutes to proofread

50-minute essay

  • 10 minutes to brainstorm, outline, write the thesis
  • 30-35 minutes to write the essay
  • 5-10 minutes to proofread

Remember when your child learned to ride a bike? He started with training wheels. Then you supported and ran behind the bike until he could pedal down the street unaided.

Teaching timed writing is a lot like this. In the beginning, expect to give lots of help through prompting (“You have 10 minutes to plan. Go!”); a note card that breaks down the time for each step; and a clock. After a number of practice essays, remove supports one by one till your teen can pace himself by the clock alone.

Don’t put off teaching this important skill. Train your high schoolers in time management , planning, writing , and reviewing. Before you know it, they’ll be ready to face whatever essay tests come their way.

Copyright, 2016. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine , the family education magazine, 2016 Print Annual. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Teaching Timed Writing: Beyond the SAT

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Relevant Timed-Essay Prompts for High Schoolers

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By request, here are some relevant timed-essay prompts for high schoolers.

Relevant Timed-Essay Prompts for High Schoolers

We paid attention to one of the bits of advice that our homeschool graduates told us long ago: Teens need to learn to write timed essays.

Those early homeschool grads headed off to college to face “blue book essays” (remember those)? Blue books were literally  lined-page booklets with plain blue covers. On test day, the college students were given an essay prompt and a time limit. Their job was to write a coherent essay explaining all they knew about that prompt, with as many facts, quotes, examples and details as possible.

That kind of test can be pretty stressful for young college students who do not have much experience writing extemporaneously and under time pressure.

Our young homeschool graduates learned the ropes quickly but asked us to condition their siblings for writing timed essays. That way, their siblings’ college adjustment process would be easier.

Therefore, that is exactly what we did. We included timed-essay writing in each of the 7Sisters essay writing guides:

Introductory Guide to High School Essay Writing is a no-busywork, step-by-step, day-by-day writing guide for homeschool high schoolers.

  • Intermediate Guide to High School Essay Writing
  • Advanced Guide to High School Essay Writing

BTW- Homeschoolers need to do a lot writing during high school.

Of course, there’s not ONE right way to handle the numbers and types of writing but we have found that these types of writing benefits teens, whether they are college-bound or non-college-bound :

  • Essay writing – yearly: to teach clarity of communication and thinking (more on why to cover essay writing here )
  • Research paper writing – yearly: to teach information gathering, thinking and organizational skills
  • Short story writing – yearly: to teach creativity and fun
  • Poetry writing – yearly: to teach powerful word usage and creativity
  • Professional writing skills – senior year: to teach practical writing they will need in their adult lives
  • College application essays – senior year: 7Sisters college-essay writing curriculum can help prepare teens for this special kind of essay. (Start with this post on college admissions essays .)

Here is a post with suggestions on how many papers that teens should write at various grade and interest/ability levels.

What are timed essays for homeschool high schoolers?

Timed essays are a test of a student’s knowledge, as well as the ability to apply that knowledge to a specific problem or question. In other words, timed essays are quite different than multiple choice tests where students are simply regurgitating information. Instead, in timed-essays, teens are showing they UNDERSTAND the information they have been learning.

With timed essays, therefore, students are given a prompt or problem, such as:

For American History class: The Declaration of Independence was a first-of-its-kind document. Explain the Declaration and why it was so important to American History. For Biology class: Viruses can be a big problem. Explain the structure of viruses, how they replicate and what makes them contagious. For Literature class: Some people think that The Chronicles of Narnia are books suitable only for children. Do you agree or disagree? Why? For Music Appreciation: Who is your favorite composer and why?

Then students use that prompt to write an essay in the five-paragraph format:

  • Introduction with the prompt, thesis and three points
  • First paragraph detailing thoughts on Point One
  • Second paragraph detailing thoughts on Point Two
  • Third paragraph detailing thoughts on Point Three

Incidentally, homeschool high schoolers gain solid skill in this kind of writing in 7Sisters essay writing curricula. (With practice, even reluctant writers can learn to be confident writing essays .)

Most of the time when students are writing their timed essays, they will not have access to their notes, internet or other resources

This is because timed essays are a test. Teachers want to know if a student has actually learned the material well enough that they understand it and can apply it to a prompt or problem.

To prepare for a timed essay test in a particular subject:

Students should study their course material just like they do for any test. However, it will also be good for them to be able to explain what they are learning to a peer (or their parents). If they can explain what they are learning, they most likely understand it fairly well.

  • Not only that, but if they are able teens can prepare for essay tests by:
  • Memorizing a few details or facts (dates, locations, biological structures, etc)
  • Know two or three of specific examples or illustrations about the material being tested
  • BONUS: If there is a famous quote and they memorize it, that can add some sparkle to the essay

During the test:

7Sisters essay writing curriculum coaches teens through the timed-essay process, along with practice essays. Basically, though teens will use their five-paragraph essay-writing skills. The more practice they get during high school, the easier it is when they get to college. 

One important tip that parents can teach their teens: Take a deep breath before writing! Oxygen helps clear the brain and lower the stress hormones. (Hopefully teens remember this from their Health curriculum .)

However, the timed-essay prompts in 7Sisters Essay Writing curriculum are not testing for knowledge!

Rather, the timed-essay prompts are simply opportunities for writing essays:

  • In five-paragraph format
  • Without notes or internet
  • Under time pressure

In other words, the information is not what is important in these essays as much as getting teens highly comfortable with writing in the timed-essay format. Thus, there are not really right answers, only right format.

So, when your homeschool high schoolers are working on their timed essays, remind them to breathe, relax a little and remember that this is practice and skill building!

Each of the 7Sisters Essay Writing Guides include a timed-essay section, along with prompts. However, sometimes it is fun to have more essay prompt choices.

How long do you give your homeschooler to work on a timed essay?

That is up to you. You know your homeschool high schooler and where they are in their writing process. Think about giving a ninth grader longer than a twelfth grader. Give a struggling or special needs writer a long time and with breaks (use whatever adaptations they need, of course).

However, if you have a teen who tends towards perfectionism – they might think they need hours and hours to create their timed essay. This is a good time to talk about goals for timed essays:

  • Instead, the goal is sharing the information they know as best they can within the time limit
  • That means: NO timed essay is perfect and that is okay
  • Although by college, they will not really be thinking about this because they have the format internalized.

Timed essays build skills

Therefore, based on some 7th Sisters’ teens, here are relevant timed-essay prompts for high schoolers

There’s not ONE right way to practice writing with writing prompts on the timed essays. You can always switch out the prompts that are included in writing guides. You can create your own prompts based on your plans for your high schooler ‘s core subjects for the year or their interests.

Remember: these are prompts that have the purpose of getting comfortable writing timed essays.

With that in mind, we asked our 7th Sisters in the 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group what their teens are interested in, so we could create some relevant prompts. (Hey, if you are not already a member of the Facebook group, join us! Lots of encouragement…and a great place to ask questions!)

Here are a few ideas for interest-based prompts:

  • Imagine you have a new friend at church whose family is not familiar with church camps. How can you explain camps to the parents and convince them they should let your friend go with you next summer?
  • Church camps can provide life-changing events for young people. How has attending church camp affected your life?
  • Many churches have an active youth group for their teens. Does your church have a youth group? If so, are you part of the group? Do you enjoy it? Why or why not?
  • Social media can be fun. Research has shown that in some cases, it can be harmful to teens’ mental health. What is your opinion about social media? Why?
  • Online gaming can be fun and a way to de-stress. It can also be addicting. Imagine you need to explain the pros and cons of gaming to your parents. What would you tell them?
  • Do you enjoy fitness programs and working out? How would you explain the benefits to a friend who is just starting to think about fitness?
  • Imagine that the leader of your church worship team heard that you sing well (or play an instrument well). The leader would like you to join the worship team. How would you talk to your parents about it?
  • What is your hobby? Imagine explaining your hobby to new friends. How could you interest them in joining you?
  • You want to get a part-time job but your parents are not sure that you can work and keep up your grades. How will you discuss the pros and cons of the job with your parents?

Here are some ideas for core subject prompts:

Language arts.

  • Imagine you are convincing your friend to read your favorite book. Explain why you love this book.
  • Some people say that fantasy novels are not quality literature and should not be included in high school Literature courses. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • Think about books or writers that have changed the world around them. Do you know of one that has had influence for positive or negative change? Explain the book or writer and how they have been influential.
  • Imagine you like math enough to think about a college major in mathematics. What would be the benefits of being a mathematics major in college?

Social Studies

  • Pick an event in the history unit you just studied. Who were the key people involved. Why do you think they made the choices they made? Do you agree with their choices?
  • Think of a topic in the science unit you just completed. Imagine you had to explain that topic to your parents. Share as much detail as you can.
  • What are the benefits of learning to play an instrument? Talk about the instrument that you play and explain why a friend might want to learn to play it also.
  • Some people think that the Arts are not true school subjects but rather, a waste of students’ time. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Here are a few irritation-based prompts:

  • Sometimes teens will enjoy writing about things that irritate them. Being irritated and questioning things is often part of the adolescent developmental process , so why not make the most of it?
  • Some teens feel that church music is boring (or vapid…whatever they complain about). How do you feel about music at your church? Why? What would you change, if you could change something in your church’s music?
  • Algebra can be a frustrating subject for many teens. Some of them ask, “When will I ever use algebra in my adult life?” How do you feel about algebra? Should you be able to drop the subject? Why or why not?
  • What is the most irritating book you have had to read for your literature class. Should students be required to read it? Why or why not?
  • Some people feel that so many academic subjects are required for high schoolers that they do not have time to learn practical skills for careers and life. Do you agree? Why or why not?

BTW- Each 7Sisters Writing Guide include rubric to help you grade your high schoolers’ essays. Also, rubrics help teens to be clear on expectations for their work. Thus, they can check their own work before handing it in. This helps build homeschool high schoolers’ editing skills. For more information and encouragement on goals and grading high school writing, check out this episode of Homeschool Highschool Podcast.

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The Paper Experts Page Right

Timed Essays -- Top 5 Tips

  • Plan your time wisely .
  • Answer the right question .
  • Collect your thoughts .
  • Leave time to revise .
  • Revise your thesis statement before you turn in your paper, so it looks like the conclusion you stumbled across was the one you planned from the start. (This small step can often make a huge difference.)

1 . Plan your time wisely.

If you are, at this moment, frantically cramming for tomorrow morning's exam, that first tip may not sound all that useful. But procrastination is probably the biggest reason why bright students sometimes get poor grades. Start early.

But you can also plan your time during the test itself. Your professor knows which paragraphs are harder to write, and will evaluate them accordingly. Does the question ask you to "evaluate"? If so, don't fill your page with a summary. Likewise, if the question asks for "evidence," don't spend all your time giving your own personal opinions.

  • Start with the larger essay questions, so that you answer them before you burn out or run out of time. 
  • If one essay question is worth 50% of the test score, spend 50% of your time on it.
  • If you finish early, you can always go back and add more detail.   (As long as your additions and changes are legible, your instructor will probably be happy to see signs of revision.)

2) Answer the right question.

Before you begin your answer, you should be sure what the question is asking. I often grade a university composition competency test, and sometimes have to fail well-written papers that fail to address the topic the student has been given.

3) Collect your thoughts.

Resist the urge to start churning out words immediately. If you are going to get anywhere in an essay, you need to know where you are going.

To avoid time-consuming false starts , jot down an outline, or draw an idea map .  An idea map is like a family tree for your thesis.  Start with the "trunk" (a circle in the center of your paper).  Draw lines that connect that central idea to main branches (circles that represent subtopics), and keep fanning out in that manner.   If one particular branch is fruitful, cut it off and make it a separate entity.  

If a branch doesn't bear fruit, prune it off.   You should identify and avoid the deadwood in advance -- before you find yourself out on a limb.  (Sorry... I'll try to leaf the puns alone... but I wood knot want you to be board.)

Get right to the point .  Don't bury your best points under an avalanche of fluff.

4. Leave time to revise.

Too often, the only revision students do is crossing out their false starts, or explaining their way out of a corner by adding to the end of their essay.

Note: simply tacking on additional paragraphs or inserting words is not revision (see: " Revision vs. Editing ").

Sometimes, in the middle of a difficult paragraph, students will glance back at the question, and get a new idea. They will then hastily back out of their current paragraph, and provide a rough transition like: "But an even more important aspect is...".  They continue in this manner, like a builder who keeps breaking down walls to add new wings onto a house. 

  • To avoid this problem before it starts, see the previous tip, or this nifty handout on " Blueprinting ."
  • To handle this problem when it occurs, don't automatically add to the end of an essay -- write in the margins, or draw a line to indicate where you want to insert a new paragraph.
  • Leave space to revise too -- write on every other line and leave the backs of pages blank, so you will have room to make legible insertions if you need to.
  • Obviously, if you are writing your test on a computer, you should just insert and rearrange text as you would normally.

5) Revise your thesis statement

If inspiration strikes while you are in the middle of an essay, and your conclusion turns out to be nothing like you thought it would be, change your thesis statement to match your conclusion. (Assuming, of course, that your unexpected conclusion still addresses the assigned topic.)

When a writer realizes that an essay is veering off in a new direction, and handles it by tacking more paragraphs onto the end, the result can be extremely awkward.

  • Joe Student writes a thesis statement that examines the relationship between "independence" and public morals.
  • Midway through his essay, Joe hits upon a different idea that relates to "prosperity."
  • To mask the transition, he writes a sentence that refers to "independence and prosperity", as if the two concepts are interchangeable. 
  • After writing a few more paragraphs on "prosperity", Joe realizes he needs to unify the two ideas in his conclusion. He writes a new paragraph that examines the connections between independence and prosperity.
  • He then writes a conclusion that "proves" that independence and prosperity are inseparable.

Unfortunately, Joe started out by making a claim about independence and public morals . If Joe tacks yet another paragraph onto the end of the paper, he will further dilute his conclusion. If he ignores the problem, his essay will appear disorganized.  Such hasty additions will rapidly obscure the original structure .

Joe will have to wrap up his essay with something ghastly like "Therefore, this essay has discussed such important issues as A, B, C and D, all of which shed an important light on [rephrase essay question here]."

To avoid linear additions , you should ideally avoid going off on tangents.  But even a very short paper is a result of a process. If you stumble onto a good idea in the middle of your paper, go back and change your thesis statement to account for your new ideas . Then, revise the subpoints and transitions so that your whole essay points towards that conclusion. Your professor will be pleased to see that you were able to make the connection, and your whole essay will be much stronger.

Dennis G. Jerz 04 May 2000 -- first posted 26 May 2000 -- typos corrected; puns added 26 Jul 2000 -- minor edits 04 Dec 2002 -- revision

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The Anti-Boring Academic Life Coach

How to Prep for an Essay When You Don’t Know the Prompt

by Gretchen | Feb 28, 2017 | Academic Coaching , blog , Writing | 0 comments

Argh! It’s annoying having to prep for timed essays when you don’t know the prompt, isn’t it?

Recently I got this GREAT question from a student who stumbled across my videos on YouTube:

A junior in college named Yaya asked, “I have a timed essay coming up in January and don’t know the prompt. However, I do have the readings which are 4 different articles, and all kinda surround Angela Duckworth’s idea of Grit. Any ideas on how I can prepare for such essay??”

Yes! I DO have an idea. Watch the video for my complete answer to Yaya.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

The problem we’re looking at this week is how do you prepare for an essay when you don’t know what the prompt will be? For Yaya, this was causing her stress, and that’s completely understandable, after all, how do you prepare for something when you don’t know what you’re preparing for?

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | How to Prepare for an Essay When You Don't Know the Prompt | Essays | Writing | Academic Life Coach | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching

Then I’d create a chart like the one above. I’d list each of the readings and the themes, and I’d annotate every time I found the themes and I’d fill out the boxes. This way, I have a good understanding of the building blocks of each of these articles. Once you understand the core themes of the articles you should be very well prepared to write any essay on these readings.

An added step you could take is to consider or ask others, what some potential essay prompts from these articles could be, and then practice making an outline for them. Just from reading the titles and the subject matter, I could make an educated guess that one potential prompt they would give you is, “Analyze Grit, is it a good thing? If so why or why not?”

I hope this is helpful to you all, and if you want more tips like this, click here to check out my course which has a lot of tips for preparing for essays.

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How To Make Time For Writing: 12 Tips for Busy Authors

how to prepare for timed essays

How often do you reach the end of your day without having written a single word of your book?

If you’re like many Authors, the answer is too often .

It’s a scenario I see all the time:

Writing is on your to-do list all day, but you can’t get to it because 500 other things pop up that “need your immediate attention.”

By the end of the day, you’re too mentally drained to write, so you put it on tomorrow’s list.

The next day, the cycle starts over again. But this time it’s worse because you still feel bad about not doing it the day before. You’d rather not think about it, so now you find yourself avoiding it, which only makes things harder.

This kind of negative cycle can spiral out of control. I see it happen to Authors all the time (I’ve done it to myself too many times to count).

Sometimes Authors stop writing completely, and often they never even start.

But there is a way to break out of the cycle:

Make a writing plan and stick to it.

At Scribe, we’ve helped over 1,700 Authors publish their book .

Through that experience, we’ve developed a writing plan system that works.

No matter who you are or what your personal circumstances might be, creating a plan according to this process can help you write your book .

How to find writing time in your busy schedule

1. commit to writing your book.

The first and most important thing you need to understand about writing your book is that the writing begins before you’ve written a single word. It begins with a decision:

The decision that you will prioritize writing your book.

Unfortunately, a lot of Authors think that wanting to write a book is enough. It isn’t.

You have to DECIDE that you’re going to do it AND that you’re going to make it a priority.

Wanting to write a book and deciding to prioritize writing a book are two different things.

Look at the two statements in comparison:

  • “I’d love to write a book.”
  • “I’ve decided to write a book.”

The first one expresses hope . The second one expresses intention .

So, before you read the rest of this post, stop and make your decision right now. Say it out loud.

“I’m going to write this book. It’s important to me to make that happen, and I’m going to treat it like it’s important.”

Everything else in this post will help you find time to write , but you have to start with that commitment.

2. Decide to make a writing plan

Without a specific writing plan, you will not actually write your book.

Think of it this way: everyone wants to be in great shape. We might even decide to get in great shape.

But it isn’t going to happen until we start exercising and eating healthy each day.

People may fall in love with the results—or with the idea of the results—but what actually gets you there is going through the process.

If the first decision was about committing to the result , this decision is about committing to the process and then making a plan to do it .

Once you prioritize your book, you carve time out of your day to work on it, and you sit down every day during that time to write it.

I’m going to show you exactly what we teach in our book coaching services (like Guided Author and Coached Author ), where our clients do the writing themselves.

We start them off by having them set up their writing plan template. Then they fill it in step-by-step:

Writing Plan Template

3. Decide on the amount of time you’ll write each day

What do we recommend?

  • 1 hour is optimal
  • 2 hours would be amazing (but not necessary)
  • Don’t go over 4 hours
  • Be honest with yourself about what you can commit to

The key to a good writing plan is consistency. If you can’t stick with whatever you decide, you’ll be back in that negative spiral.

But if you think 1 hour doesn’t sound like enough, think again.

Committing 1 hour a day to writing your book will get your rough draft finished in less than 4 months in most cases.

Stop here and add this to your writing plan.

4. Decide what time of day you’ll write

This is different for everyone.

A lot of studies have suggested that people do their best creative work in the morning. But I’ve seen plenty of Authors who write best at night.

Whatever works for you is great. The point is to commit to a specific time that you know you can make happen.

Stop here and add that to your writing plan too.

5. Decide where you’ll write

Next, decide where you’re going to write.

Again, it doesn’t matter where it is. The key is to write wherever you’re going to get writing done.

It might be in your home office, at your favorite outdoor cafe, in your tool shed, or even in your electric car while it’s charging in the driveway. I don’t care, and neither should anyone else.

The only thing that matters is that you know you can go there and that it will be conducive for you to write.

Stop here and add it to your writing plan.

6. Set your minimum number of words per day

At Scribe, we recommend a minimum of 250 words a day.

That might not seem like much, but that’s the point. This is the word count for which you’ll hold yourself accountable. It needs to be a goal you can accomplish.

At 250 words each day, you could write a 120-page book in about 4 months.

Ernest Hemingway wrote only 500-700 words each day as a full-time writer, writing for 6 hours a day.

Remember, you’re welcome to write more than that. This is just the daily number of words to which you’re committing, at a minimum.

A goal of 250 words is something you can accomplish even on a rough day when your time gets crunched.

how to prepare for timed essays

It’s also a chance to get a “little victory.” Celebrating a small win each day helps keep you out of that negative cycle.

The days when you only hit your minimum are fantastic. Those days mean you’re building a habit. Those are the days that prove you’ll finish your book.

Stop here and add your minimum word count to your writing plan.

7. Decide on your daily accountability

Now that you have your minimum number of daily words, ask yourself this:

How will I hold myself accountable for sticking to my plan?

We recommend posting your daily word count on Facebook or any other social media.

Posting your count where friends and family can see it will help you hold yourself accountable to your plan. It will also give those same friends and family a chance to cheer you on.

Other accountability tricks include:

  • Daily text partner
  • Word count journal
  • Project blog
  • Mobile apps for habit-building

Whatever your accountability system is going to be, stop here and add it to your writing plan.

8. Decide on your self-care routine

Believe it or not, your self-care routine is tremendously important to your writing process.

Our creativity is at its strongest when we’re relaxed, rested, and focused. That only happens if we make it happen.

I’ve seen self-care plans include all kinds of things:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Sleep 8 hours each night
  • Go on daily nature walks
  • Acupuncture
  • Energy healing
  • Float sessions
  • Epsom salt baths

Whatever you need to stay calm, centered, and focused on your writing journey, do it.

Stop and add a single major self-care commitment to your writing plan. One will do.

9. Decide what software to use

Guess what? Your writing skills don’t depend on your software .

I’ve seen people complete their writing projects on just about every kind of software.

Don’t get caught up in this decision. And definitely don’t stall out trying to learn some new app because you think you need it. You don’t.

You just need something you can write your book on  that you already know how to use.

Whatever software you’re going to use, stop here and add it to your writing plan.

10. Add your time blocks to your calendar

Great! You’re almost done.

Now that you have your time planned out, take a minute to add those writing blocks to your calendar.

Most of us live by a pretty strict schedule, so if it’s not on the calendar, it won’t happen.

For many Authors, this is the number one thing that holds them to writing their book. More than friends or social media accountability, they feel obligated to do it because it’s on the calendar.

Stop and do it now. Put those writing blocks in whatever calendar system you use.

11. Don’t try to be super-human

Remember, the writing plan has to be something you can commit to and remain committed to over the course of several months.

Nobody’s perfect, and everyone needs to take a breather once in a while. That’s part of your self-care!

So, can you take a day off every week?

Sure. Plan it into your schedule and enjoy it.

What should you do if you miss a day?

Forgive yourself and move on.

That said, with a minimum word count of just 250, you should be able to knock these out most days, even if you’re tired.

I’ve seen it work.

Authors grumble, but then they think:

“I can do this. It’s just 250 words.”

And they sit at their computer and do it.

But if you really can’t or if something crazy happens, let it go.

Tomorrow, hit that 250-word count. As long as you get right back to it, you’ll have that first draft before you know it.

12. Break your book into writing pieces

Finally, break the task of writing your book into pieces.

Writing a book can feel like a Herculean task. A solid writing plan breaks that job up into achievable writing goals.

This is critical to any writing program and one of the most important writing tips for any Author.

You won’t create good writing habits if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve each day.

Using your writing plan, set up your writing blocks with focused tasks for each writing session.

Don’t just block out time to “write my book.” Be specific about what you’ll do when. Some examples include:

  • Figure out book positioning
  • Brainstorm table of contents
  • Draft outline
  • Write the first section of chapter 1

These kinds of tasks give you discrete, achievable goals with small victories every day. They help you:

  • Block out the time you really need for each section
  • Include any research time you need before writing
  • Focus deeply on each section as you write it
  • Include editing time after you’re done writing
  • Feel motivated by your progress as you complete each step in your plan

The Scribe Crew

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Improve Your Paper by Writing Structured Paragraphs

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In academic writing, effective paragraphs serve as building blocks to construct a complex analysis or argument. Paragraphing helps readers to understand and process your ideas into meaningful units of thought.

What do paragraphs do?

Imagine reading this page without paragraph breaks. Paragraphs create order and logic by helping your reader recognize the boundaries where one point ends and another begins.

How long should a paragraph be?

In a first draft, it may make sense to set a goal for length. For example, you can set a goal of writing four to six sentences per paragraph: in that number of sentences you can announce an idea, prove that idea with evidence, and explain why this evidence matters by linking it to the overall goal of your paper.

In the final version of your paper you may have a shorter paragraph or two. Short paragraphs call a lot of attention to themselves, so they can effectively emphasize a point. Too many short paragraphs, however, may indicate that your ideas are not developed with evidence and analysis.

You’ll generally read and write longer paragraphs in academic papers. However, too many long paragraphs can provide readers with too much information to manage at one time. Readers need planned pauses or breaks when reading long complex papers in order to understand your presented ideas. Remember this writing mantra: “Give your readers a break!” or “Good paragraphs give one pause!”

Kinds of sentences in a paragraph

Thinking about paragraphs rigidly in terms of length may lead to formulaic writing. Instead, as you revise your draft think about how each sentence is functioning in your paragraph, and whether your paragraph has sufficient functional sentences to make its point.

Transition sentences guide your reader smoothly from the topic of the preceding paragraph into the topic of your new paragraph. Writers sometimes begin with a transition sentence before introducing the topic of the new paragraph.

A topic sentence states the main idea of a paragraph. Beginning a paragraph with a topic sentence ensures your reader recognizes early in the paragraph what larger idea the paragraph is going to demonstrate. Expert writers may not introduce the topic until the middle or end of the paragraph, and often imply their topics without ever writing a topic sentence.

Body sentences develop the topic of the paragraph. These sentences work to analyze data or quotations, describe a text or event, set up a comparison, showcase evidence, and sometimes they enumerate the logical points for readers to give them a sense of a paper’s bigger picture. In body sentences, you need to consider how much quoted data or evidence will demonstrate or prove your point.

Linking sentences relate back to the paper’s main argument by showing how the idea of that paragraph matches the overall goal of the paper.

Concluding sentences may bring a section to its end before you move on to a new section of the paper.

Some sample paragraphs

Undergraduate art analysis.

Notice how the writer develops the idea in the body sentences, as promised in the first sentence, and concludes her paragraph by offering a keen, close observation of specific details.

In order to understand how Manet’s work echoes or communicates with Titian’s, one must first consider the similarities between their paintings. To begin with, both take a nude woman as the subject. More than that, however, Manet directly copies the composition of Titian’s Venus; the overwhelming similarity in color and the figures’ arrangement in each painting prove this. Both women are lying in the same position with their heads on the left-hand side of the canvas. Both women have their left leg crossed over the right. Both women have flowers and accessories. Other key elements unite these paintings, as well: the arrangement of the sheets on the bed; the green curtains; the servants; and the small animal at the foot of the bed. All these features clearly indicate that Manet echoes Titian. If one stopped at the similarity in the composition, it would appear that both paintings communicate the same thing; both would be a celebration of the beauty of the human figure, and Manet’s voice would have added nothing new to the conversation; it would have no additional meaning besides venerating the masterful work of Titian. ( Used with permission .)

Undergraduate literary analysis

In this paragraph from a 2012 Lewis Prize-winning English essay, UW–Madison undergraduate Abby Becker organizes her sentences savvily. She first transitions her reader into her topic, then introduces the source of evidence for that paragraph before analyzing that source and returning to the topic with the new critical perspective that her analysis suggests.

In order for a political or social revolution to occur, connections must be formed. More means of communication lead to more opportunities to make connections. In Dos Passos’ The 42nd Parallel, J. Ward Moorehouse focuses on making business connections but never forms any relationships. He explains at a party that “he had come down in a purely unofficial way you understand to make contacts” (249). In business and politics, making contacts denotes an impersonal, removed way of dealing with people. This type of communication does not result in connections. Moorehouse’s connections are for his own political personal gain. There may be a connection but no insight or true relationship. Moorehouse views people as a tool to advance his own business and political agendas demonstrating that connections with people are often made out of selfish, egotistical motives.

Magazine profile

From a September 2006 The Atlantic article , by Marshall Poe, describing Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia, and collaborative knowledge. Notice how the first sentence introduces a philosophical issue that the body sentences define and link to both Wikipedia and Wales’s own personality.

Wales was an advocate of what is generically termed “openness” online. An “open” online community is one with few restrictions on membership or posting-everyone is welcome, and anyone can say anything as long as it’s generally on point and doesn’t include gratuitous ad hominem attacks. Openness fit not only Wales’s idea of objectivism, with its emphasis on reason and rejection of force, but also his mild personality. He doesn’t like to fight. He would rather suffer fools in silence, waiting for them to talk themselves out, than confront them. This patience would serve Wales well in the years to come.

From Spontaneous Gestures Influence Strategy Choices in Problem Solving (2011). UW-Madison Psychology Professor Martha Alibali et al. present empirical research on how children use physical gestures to acquire mathematical problem-solving knowledge. Notice the clarity of expression in the first paragraph’s topic sentence: the writer provides sufficient set-up to prepare readers for the data which comes at the end of each paragraph.

We predicted that participants in the gesture-allowed condition would be less likely than participants in the gesture-prohibited condition to generate the parity strategy, because the availability of gesture would promote use of perceptual-motor strategies instead. This was indeed the case; the proportion of participants who used the parity strategy on at least one trial was .74 in the gesture-allowed condition and .91 in the gesture-prohibited condition, _2(1, N = 85) = 4.17, p = .04 (Fig. 1). Once they generated the parity strategy, most participants (89%) used it on all subsequent trials.

Mechanical engineering

From Mounting methodologies to measure EUV reticle nonflatness (SPIE Proceedings 7470, 2009), by the lab of UW–Madison Professor Roxanne L. Engelstad. Notice how Battula et al. signal the practical consequence of their findings and also suggest that another result would be possible depending on further research.

Unfortunately, to map the entire reticle with a single measurement, a 12 in. beam expander is needed. With such a large optical system, the expander must be held rigidly, not allowing it to tip or tilt. Since the UW-CMC mount must remain vertical to be effective, it cannot be used in this scenario. Consequently, the application of this mount is limited. Thus, a number of new designs have been proposed by industry to address the alignment issues and provide for other options, such as automated handling. Three of these designs are described and evaluated in the following sections.

Literary studies

From Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color (2012), by UW–Madison Professor Sherrard-Johnson. Notice how the first two sentences give crucial background information in order to set up the topic sentence.

In Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, Jeff Wiltse examines how U.S. swimming pools were transformed from interracial single-sex spaces in which class and gender were more important than race to “leisure resorts, where practically everyone in the community except black Americans swam together.” His study then follows what he calls the second social transformation—”when black Americans gained access through legal and social protest” and “white swimmers generally abandoned them for private pools.” The various iterations of West’s story, which discuss the span from 1950 to 1980, fall between these two moments in social and legal history. I am particularly intrigued by how the national history of segregated bathing areas informs the local, particular event described by West. Does the exclusion of blacks from the high beach parallel the segregation of public pools? In the early twentieth century, public bathing spaces were notoriously violent. The Chicago Riot in 1919 was touched off when white bathers threw rocks at black teenagers who had drifted into a white beach on Lake Michigan. Northerners’ use of pools during the Progressive era reinforced class and gender but not racial distinction. Working-class folk did not swim with the upper classes, but they were not as concerned about color. Following the Great Migration, the concerns about intimacy and sexuality that have always been latent in conversations about public space (in particular the public space of the pool) were directed at blacks. The peculiar democracy of the beach—in bathing suits it is more difficulty to determine class‐worked against black Americans. Wiltse marks this shift between the years of 1920 and 1940. The social changes that took place during this period shape West’s complex politics. (26)

Legal writing

Former UW–Madison School of Law Professor Arthur F. McEvoy wrote this model paragraph as part of a memorandum on effective writing. Notice that each of the body sentences illustrates and develops the main idea or topic sentence.

The ideal paragraph contains five sentences. The topic sentence almost always comes first and states as clearly as possible the point that the paragraph makes, just as the first sentence of this paragraph did. The three middle sentences of the paragraph follow the topic sentence in some rational order and substantiate it with examples, analysis, or other kind of development; if written clearly, middle sentences may employ conjunctions or subordinate clauses to put across complex ideas without breaking the basic form. Every well-written paragraph ends with a “clincher” sentence that in some way signals completion of the paragraph’s point and places it in context, either by restating the topic sentence, relating the topic back to the thesis of the writing as a whole, or by providing a transition to the paragraph that follows. While good style may require a writer to vary this basic form occasionally, the five-sentence model captures the Platonic essence of the paragraph and most effectively accomplishes its purpose, which is to state a single idea, in sequence, discretely and comprehensively.

how to prepare for timed essays

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Developing a Thesis Statement

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

Become a Writer Today

Essays About Time: Top 5 Examples and 8 Prompts

Essays about time involve looking into human existence and other intangible concepts. Check out our top examples and prompts to write an engaging piece about this subject.

Time entails many concepts that can be hard to explain. In its simplest sense, time is the period between the past, present, and future. It also encompasses every action or progression of events within those measures. Time never stops. It consistently ticks away, making it both a cruel teacher and an apt healer. It inspires many writers to write pieces about it, discussing time as a notion or an element in emotionally-driven compositions that both describe euphoric and heart-rending episodes. 

To aid you in writing a compelling piece, below are our top picks for great essays about time:

1. Time is Precious Essay by Anonymous on AreSearchGuide.com

2. an essay on time by david pincus, 3. time is money by supriya, 4. time waster by anonymous on exampleessays.com, 5. time management: using the less time to do more by anonymous on edubirdie.com, 1. how i spend my time, 2. what is time, 3. time and technology, 4. time management and procrastination, 5. if time doesn’t exist, 6. time as a currency, 7. the value of time, 8. time and productivity.

“Make most of your time and you will be rewarded ten folds of it, waste it and the little you have will be taken away, just like in the parable of talents.”

The essay begins with a convincing statement reminding the readers of the average life expectancy of a person to assert the importance of time. Then, in the later sections, the author answers why time is precious. Some reasons include time is always in motion, is priceless, and can never be borrowed. The piece also mentions why many “wait for the right opportunity,” not realizing they must plan first to get to the “right time.” Finally, at the end of the essay, the writer reminds us that balancing and planning how to spend time in all areas of life are critical to having a meaningful existence.

“I don’t know what time is, beyond a mysterious self-similar backdrop upon which we lead our lives. It is intricately woven across the scales of observation – from the quantum level to the phenomenological time of cultural revolutions.”

Pincus begins the essay with questions about time and then proceeds to answer them. Then, he focuses on time psychologically, relating it to traumas, disorders, and lack of meaning. In the next section, he discusses how psychotherapists use the concept of time to treat patients. 

In the last part of his essay, Pincus admits that he doesn’t know what time is but notes it’s akin to a thread that stitches moments together and anchors us through a complex world.

“Knowing how precious time is, we should never waste time, but make good use of it.”

Supriya’s essay is straightforward. After claiming that someone’s success depends on how they use their time, she gives an example of a student who studied well and passed an exam quickly. She follows it with more examples, referring to office workers and the famous and wealthy.

“Time is something you can’t have back, and should not be used to simply watch a computer screen for hours upon end.”

The writer shares one of his vices that leads him to waste time – technology, specifically, instant messaging. They mention how unproductive it is to just stare at a computer screen to wait for their friends to go online. They know many others have the same problem and hope to overcome the bad habit soon.

“I should strive for good time management skills which are essential to be learned and mastered in order to have a better personal and professional life… it can also help us learn more about self-discipline which is a crucial pillar for stable success… time management is a concept of balance and moderation of the things that are important to us.”

The essay affirms people need to protect time, as it’s a non-renewable resource. A great way to do it is by tracking your time, also known as time management. The writer shared their experience when they were a college student and how challenging it was to allocate their time between deadlines and other life demands. The following parts of the piece explain what time management is in detail, even recommending a tool to help individuals label their activities based on urgency. The following paragraphs focus on what the author learned about time management throughout their life and how they missed opportunities while continuously being stressed. Then, the last part of the essay suggests tips to conquer time management problems. 

Did you know that readability is critical to readers finishing your whole essay? See our article on how to improve your readability score to learn more. 

8 Writing Prompts For Essays About Time

Go through our recommended prompts on essays about time for writing:

In this essay, share how you use your time on a typical day. Then, decide if you want to keep spending your time doing the same things in the future. If not, tell your readers the reason. For instance, if you’re devoting most of your time studying now, you can say that you intend to use your future time doing other invaluable things, such as working hard to help your family.

Because there are many definitions of time, use this essay to define your interpretation of time. You can use creative writing and personify time to make your essay easy to understand. For example, you can think of time as a personal tutor who always reminds you of the things you should be able to finish within the day. For an engaging essay, use descriptive language to emphasize your points.

Essays About Time: Time and technology

List technologies that help people save time, such as smartphones, computers, and the internet. Delve into how these devices help individuals complete their tasks faster. On the other hand, you can also talk about how modernization negatively affects people’s time management. Like when they distract students and workers from completing their assignments.

Discuss reasons why people procrastinate. First, ensure to pick common causes so your readers can easily relate to your piece. Then, add tips on how individuals can battle dilly-dallying by recommending influential time management theories and models. You can even try some of these theories or models and tell your readers how they worked for you. 

Open a discussion about what can happen if there is no concept of time. Include what matters you think will be affected if time is abolished. You can also debate that time does not exist, that it’s just created by people to keep track of whatever they need to monitor. Finally, add your thoughts on the notion that “we only exist within an ever-changing now.”

Share your ideas of what can take place if we use “time” to buy food, pay rent, etc. You can also analyze that when we use our time to work, get paid for it, and then purchase our necessities, we’re technically exchanging our time to be able to buy what we need. A movie that used this theory is In Time , starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Cillian Murphy. You can write a review of this movie and add your opinions on it.

Everyone’s aware of the importance of time. For this prompt, delve into why time is precious. Write this essay from your perspective and probe how time, such as managing or wasting it, affects your life. You can also interpret this prompt by calculating the non-monetary or opportunity costs of spending time. 

Examine the direct relationship between time and productivity. Then, list productivity strategies schools and businesses use. You can also open a discourse about the number of hours workers are supposed to work in a week. For example, debate if you think a 40-hour full-time work week in America, results in more productive employees. Then, add other schedules from other countries and how it affects productivity, such as Denmark, Germany, and Norway, with less than 30 hours of the work week. 

Do you want to know how to convince your readers effectively? Read our guide on how to write an argumentative essay . Improve your writing skills; check out our guide packed full of transition words for essays .

how to prepare for timed essays

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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Watch CBS News

We lose an hour of sleep tonight to daylight saving 2024. Here's how to prepare to spring forward overnight.

By Sara Moniuszko

Edited By Paula Cohen

Updated on: March 9, 2024 / 6:05 AM EST / CBS News

Ready or not, daylight saving time for 2024 is almost here, which means we're set to lose an hour of sleep tonight. On Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m., clocks in most of the United States and many other countries move forward one hour and stay there for nearly eight months of daylight saving time. 

As opposed to "falling back" in November when we gain an hour, this  time change  has us "spring forward," which means losing some sleep.

"As we move our clocks ahead, there's a jolt to the system," Dr. Beth Ann Malow, a neurology and pediatrics professor at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CBS News  last spring, explaining this jolt can affect our sleep and overall health.

"Sleep really impacts our health in so many ways — our weight, our mood, our heart, our lungs, our brain — that's all affected by good sleep ," she says.

But there are ways to make shift less challenging, experts say. Here's how:

Actively prepare for the adjustment

Taking steps to prepare for the time change is one way to conquer the daylight saving shift.

In the days leading up to the time change, try going to bed and waking up a little bit earlier than usual to prepare your body for the hour you will lose, Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, previously told CBS News .

He also suggests avoiding afternoon caffeine and naps during this transition in order to increase your ability to fall asleep at night.

Daylight saving is also the time to prioritize your bedtime, Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, a sleep expert and consultant to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM),  told CBS News  ahead of last year's shift.

"Our bodies are going to want us to sleep in later relative to the clock after this, so if we don't go to bed early enough to allow for a full night of sleep, we're just going to be sort of chronically sleep deprived on top of the shift that we're experiencing," she explains. Bedtime routines are often viewed as being for children, but that adults can benefit too, "this week more than any other," she adds.

And it's not just your bedtime routine — adjusting other daily routines that are "time cues" for your body, like mealtimes, for example, can help you get into the new rhythm, the AASM says .

Soak in some sunlight

"Light is what tells our body clock or circadian rhythm what time it is," Flynn-Evans explains. "So by maximizing morning light and minimizing evening light, you should help your internal clock better adjust to this disruption that we force on ourselves twice a year."

Sleep expert Dr. Shelby Harris recently  told CBS New York she advises spending time outdoors the Sunday clocks change .

"Make sure you go for a gentle walk, do something exercise-wise. It doesn't have to be hardcore. Just movement and light exposure," she said. 

The AASM also suggests heading outdoors for early morning sunlight the week after the time change. 

Don't have time to make it outside? 

Keep shades and curtains open for some natural morning light the next few days to get a head start on waking up a bit earlier, Flynn-Evans says. And Czeisler suggests eating breakfast in front of a window for an extra morning boost.

  • Daylight Saving Time

Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at CBSNews.com. Previously, she wrote for USA Today, where she was selected to help launch the newspaper's wellness vertical. She now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch.

More from CBS News

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Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

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How springing forward to daylight saving time could affect your health, and how to prepare

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most of America “springs forward” Sunday for daylight saving time and losing that hour of sleep can do more than leave you tired and cranky the next day. It also could harm your health.

Darker mornings and more evening light together knock your body clock out of whack — which means daylight saving time can usher in sleep trouble for weeks or longer. Studies have even found an uptick in heart attacks and strokes right after the March time change.

There are ways to ease the adjustment, including getting more sunshine to help reset your circadian rhythm for healthful sleep.

“Not unlike when one travels across many time zones, how long it can take is very different for different people,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez of the American Heart Association. “Understand that your body is transitioning.”

When does daylight saving time start?

Daylight saving time begins Sunday at 2 a.m., an hour of sleep vanishing in most of the U.S. The ritual will reverse on Nov. 3 when clocks “fall back” as daylight saving time ends.

Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t make the spring switch, sticking to standard time year-round along with Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Worldwide, dozens of countries also observe daylight saving time, starting and ending at different dates.

Some people try to prepare for daylight saving time’s sleep jolt by going to bed a little earlier two or three nights ahead. With a third of American adults already not getting the recommended seven hours of nightly shuteye, catching up can be difficult.

What happens to your brain when it’s lighter later?

The brain has a master clock that is set by exposure to sunlight and darkness. This circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle that determines when we become sleepy and when we’re more alert. The patterns change with age, one reason that early-to-rise youngsters evolve into hard-to-wake teens.

READ MORE: How daylight saving time poses a host of health concerns, according to a neurologist

Morning light resets the rhythm. By evening, levels of a hormone called melatonin begin to surge, triggering drowsiness. Too much light in the evening — that extra hour from daylight saving time — delays that surge and the cycle gets out of sync.

Sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease, cognitive decline, obesity and numerous other problems. And that circadian clock affects more than sleep, also influencing things like heart rate, blood pressure, stress hormones and metabolism.

How does the time change affect your health?

Fatal car crashes temporarily jump the first few days after the spring time change, according to a study of U.S. traffic fatalities. The risk was highest in the morning, and researchers attributed it to sleep deprivation.

Then there’s the cardiac connection. The American Heart Association points to studies that suggest an uptick in heart attacks on the Monday after daylight saving time begins, and in strokes for two days afterward.

Doctors already know that heart attacks, especially severe ones, are a bit more common on Mondays generally — and in the morning, when blood is more clot-prone.

It’s not clear why the time change would add to the Monday connection, Sanchez said, although probably something about the abrupt circadian disruption exacerbates factors such as high blood pressure in people already at risk.

How to prepare for daylight saving time

Go to bed a little earlier Friday and Saturday nights, and try to get more morning light. Moving up daily routines, like dinner time or when you exercise, also may help cue your body to start adapting, sleep experts advise.

Afternoon naps and caffeine as well as evening light from phones and other electronic devices can make adjusting to an earlier bedtime even harder.

Stay tuned: Some health groups, including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have said it’s time to do away with time switches and that sticking with standard time year-round aligns better with the sun — and human biology.

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how to prepare for timed essays

How to see word count on Google Docs: Check progress on your writing project in real time.

how to prepare for timed essays

For some, writing comes easy . It may feel like mere seconds for words to start flying off the page as the final word count nears thousands. For others, it may take several painstaking hours to muster up enough words to reach a needed quota.

No matter if you're writing a proposal for work or an essay for class, you may have to check the word count to make sure you don't exceed the limit, or to see if you have even reached the minimum.

If you're writing on Google Docs , here is a guide to checking word count on several devices, including a computer, iPad, iPhone and Android.

How to check word count in Google Docs

To check word count on a computer, make sure you have your file open. Select "Tools" in the top bar and choose "Word Count" in the dropdown menu. You can also shortcut this by pressing "Command+Shift+C."

This will prompt a popup displaying the total pages, words, characters and characters excluding spaces in your Google Doc. Select "Display word count while typing" if you want to see word count in real-time as you write. It is important to note that word count applies to everything written in your document except headers, footers and footnotes.

If you want to know how many words are in a specific section of your document, select and highlight the paragraph and then follow the aforementioned steps.

To check word count on an iPad, iPhone or Android, open the Google Docs app and select your file. Go to the three dots in the top right corner and tap "Word Count." These device users do not have the option to display word count while typing.

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How springing forward to daylight saving time could affect your health -- and how to prepare

FILE - A selection of vintage clocks are displayed at Electric Time Company, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Medfield, Mass. Most of America “springs forward” Sunday, March 10, 2024, for daylight saving time and losing that hour of sleep can do more than leave you tired and cranky the next day. It also could affect your health. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

FILE - A selection of vintage clocks are displayed at Electric Time Company, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Medfield, Mass. Most of America “springs forward” Sunday, March 10, 2024, for daylight saving time and losing that hour of sleep can do more than leave you tired and cranky the next day. It also could affect your health. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

  • Copy Link copied

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most of America “springs forward” Sunday for daylight saving time and losing that hour of sleep can do more than leave you tired and cranky the next day. It also could harm your health.

Darker mornings and more evening light together knock your body clock out of whack — which means daylight saving time can usher in sleep trouble for weeks or longer. Studies have even found an uptick in heart attacks and strokes right after the March time change.

There are ways to ease the adjustment, including getting more sunshine to help reset your circadian rhythm for healthful sleep.

“Not unlike when one travels across many time zones, how long it can take is very different for different people,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez of the American Heart Association. “Understand that your body is transitioning.”

When does daylight saving time start?

Daylight saving time begins Sunday at 2 a.m., an hour of sleep vanishing in most of the U.S. The ritual will reverse on Nov. 3 when clocks “fall back” as daylight saving time ends.

Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t make the spring switch, sticking to standard time year-round along with Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Worldwide, dozens of countries also observe daylight saving time, starting and ending at different dates.

FILE - This image provided by Novo Nordisk in January 2023, shows packaging for the company's Wegovy medication. The popular weight-loss drug, which has helped millions of Americans shed pounds, can now be used to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems in patients who are overweight or who have obesity, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday, March 8, 2024. (Novo Nordisk via AP)

Some people try to prepare for daylight saving time’s sleep jolt by going to bed a little earlier two or three nights ahead. With a third of American adults already not getting the recommended seven hours of nightly shuteye, catching up can be difficult.

What happens to your brain when it’s lighter later?

The brain has a master clock that is set by exposure to sunlight and darkness. This circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle that determines when we become sleepy and when we’re more alert. The patterns change with age, one reason that early-to-rise youngsters evolve into hard-to-wake teens.

Morning light resets the rhythm. By evening, levels of a hormone called melatonin begin to surge, triggering drowsiness. Too much light in the evening — that extra hour from daylight saving time — delays that surge and the cycle gets out of sync.

Sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease, cognitive decline, obesity and numerous other problems. And that circadian clock affects more than sleep, also influencing things like heart rate, blood pressure, stress hormones and metabolism.

How does the time change affect your health?

Fatal car crashes temporarily jump the first few days after the spring time change, according to a study of U.S. traffic fatalities. The risk was highest in the morning, and researchers attributed it to sleep deprivation.

Then there’s the cardiac connection. The American Heart Association points to studies that suggest an uptick in heart attacks on the Monday after daylight saving time begins, and in strokes for two days afterward.

Doctors already know that heart attacks, especially severe ones, are a bit more common on Mondays generally — and in the morning, when blood is more clot-prone.

It’s not clear why the time change would add to the Monday connection, Sanchez said, although probably something about the abrupt circadian disruption exacerbates factors such as high blood pressure in people already at risk.

How to prepare for daylight saving time

Go to bed a little earlier Friday and Saturday nights, and try to get more morning light. Moving up daily routines, like dinner time or when you exercise, also may help cue your body to start adapting, sleep experts advise.

Afternoon naps and caffeine as well as evening light from phones and other electronic devices can make adjusting to an earlier bedtime even harder.

Stay tuned: Some health groups, including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have said it’s time to do away with time switches and that sticking with standard time year-round aligns better with the sun — and human biology.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

how to prepare for timed essays

I finally invested my HSA money after writing about millionaires who take advantage of a 'triple tax threat strategy.' I could pocket an extra $233,000 by the time I retire.

  • After talking to a handful of wealthy individuals who invest their HSA money, I decided to do it
  • HSAs are meant for health costs but can also be used as an investment tool with major tax perks.
  • Investing my money could mean a six-figure difference in funds by the time I retire.

A core part of my job is talking to successful individuals about how they invest their money.

Lately, I've interviewed a handful of wealthy people who can't stop talking about health savings accounts (HSAs), which are meant for health costs but can also be used as an investment tool with significant tax perks.

One millennial millionaire told me that, of the seven different investment accounts he uses, the HSA is "my favorite by far."

The conversations prompted me to make some changes to my finances. I happen to have an HSA, but I wasn't using it in the same way these millionaires were. I was saving in the account, but not investing that money.

Part of what was holding me back from investing the funds was a lack of awareness.

"A lot of these tools we have available to us haven't even been around for a generation," Brent Weiss , a certified financial planner and cofounder of Facet Wealth , told me. Roth IRAs, for example, first became available in 1998. HSAs entered the scene in the early 2000s.

As I started to learn through my conversations with fiscally savvy individuals, an HSA is an incredibly powerful financial tool thanks to its unique triple tax advantage. However, there are some stipulations if you want to use one, starting with the type of health insurance plan you have.

What is an HDHP and who do they make sense for?

To use an HSA, you have to be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), a type of health insurance that typically has lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs.

It was introduced in 2001 (a couple of years before HSAs made their debut in 2003) to make health insurance more affordable.

While it offers a lower premium (the amount you pay for your health insurance every month), it also comes with a higher deductible as the name suggests. The latter is what you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.

That's where the HSA comes in handy. The idea is that since you're not spending a lot on a premium, you have more money to save in an HSA that you can then use toward medical expenses.

Think of it as a personal bank account for your medical costs — with incredible tax benefits.

Note that an HDHP is not the best choice for everyone. It's typically well suited for people who are very healthy, don't plan on seeking medical care frequently, and can afford to pay the deductible upfront if there's a medical surprise.

If you have an existing health issue and see a doctor frequently, or you're preparing for a major medical expense such as surgery or having kids, this might not be the best plan type for you.

Additionally, if you have cash-flow issues, you might want to avoid an HDHP. You need to have the means to make significant savings in an HSA, emphasized Weiss.

Switching to an HDHP and contributing to an HSA

As a healthy 31-year-old who rarely seeks medical care and has a solid cash cushion, I fall into the category of people who an HDHP makes sense for. I switched to this type of plan at the beginning of 2022 and immediately started contributing to the HSA.

For two years, I maxed out the account. The limit for individuals was $3,650 in 2022 and $3,850 in 2023. In 2024, it's $4,150.

I used the funds for occasional copays and prescriptions. I also enjoyed the HSA Store , which is like Amazon for HSA-eligible products like sunscreen, cleansers, Advil, and bandaids. There are some surprisingly eligible products , like electrolyte mix, Epsom salts, and recovery massage guns.

Note that if you withdraw money for something other than a qualified medical expense, you'll pay ordinary income taxes on the withdrawal and owe a 20% early withdrawal penalty — that's if you're under 65. After 65, you can use your HSA money to cover any expense without incurring a penalty, but the funds are subject to income tax.

I did have one freak accident that resulted in a corneal abrasion. I happily used my HSA money to cover the $1,075 bill.

While I used my HSA debit card to spend my funds for simplicity, a smart move would have been to use a credit card to collect rewards and then submit receipts to my provider in order to get reimbursed.

An even smarter move would have been to invest my HSA funds (which I eventually did) and not touch them until age 65.

Using an HSA like the wealthy: Max out the plan, don't touch the funds, and let the money grow tax-free

After two years of simply saving in an HSA while writing about millionaires who are actually putting that money to work, I decided to do the same.

After all, it's an excellent investment vehicle with a triple tax advantage: You can contribute pretax dollars (reducing your taxable income), your contributions and earnings grow tax-free over time, and you can withdraw your money tax-free to cover qualified medical expenses (including things like copays, lab fees, and vaccines).

Weiss, who spent the first decade of his career working mainly with high-income individuals and families refers to it as the "triple tax threat strategy for your money." His advice to his wealthy clients was: "Max your health-savings account every single year, don't spend the money in the account, invest that money so it can grow tax-free, and then you can use it at some point in the future for qualified medical expenses tax-free."

He also advised keeping a paper trail of medical receipts: "The amazing thing about an HSA, since it rolls over year over year, is that if you have a big expense and you decide to keep your HSA invested and pay out-of-pocket, there's no time limit on when you can reimburse yourself."

This strategy isn't just for the wealthy — I'm using it, after all — but there are some important steps to take before you implement it.

"First of all, if you need to use the money in the HSA to cover medical expenses, you don't want to invest it," he said. "What you don't want to happen is, you invest it, the market drops 30%, and you lose 30% of your money, and then have to use it to cover a doctor's visit for your kid."

The long-established personal finance advice of having an emergency fund before you invest applies here, too.

Weiss, who uses an HSA, also recommends keeping some cash in the account that you could easily access for a medical emergency. However much you choose to keep in cash is situational and depends on your risk tolerance, he said.

He prefers to keep the one-year deductible in cash. This amount varies by plan — mine, for example, is $2,000. But to be considered an HDHP in 2024, the minimum annual deductible is $1,600. Other people prefer to keep the out-of-pocket max, which is the most you could spend on covered healthcare in a year. Again, this varies by plan — mine is $3,250 — but cannot exceed $8,050 for self-only coverage in 2024.

A six-figure difference in retirement funds

In early 2024, I requested to move money from my HSA to my HSA investment account. My provider requires me to keep $500 in my cash account, but anything else was fair game to invest in any of the 25 options available to me.

I kept the $500 minimum — now that I've spoken with Weiss, I'm building that balance up to the one-year deductible amount before I invest more — and transferred about $4,400 into the Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund ( VFIFX ).

Selecting an appropriate investment was the most intimidating step of the process, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with a target-date fund . These types of funds automatically change to more conservative assets as the "target date" — or the date at which you plan to retire — nears.

I was relieved when Weiss told me that he also invests his HSA money in a retirement date fund.

"I'm not getting fancy. I'm not trying to beat the market," he said. "It's a super-simple way to invest your money and not have to worry about it every day, week, month, or quarter."

I asked about how often I should be transferring money from my cash account, where my HSA funds land automatically, to my investment account. He told me not to worry about logging in and initiating a transfer every time I get paid, especially if there are transfer fees. Quarterly or every six months is fine, he said: "The main point is to find the cadence or rhythm that works for you where you know you're going to stick to it."

I set a reminder on my phone to make quarterly investments, as I don't want to forget to invest this money.

"Health savings accounts are sitting in general bank accounts; they're not high-yield accounts," Weiss pointed out, meaning my money is essentially earning zero interest when it's in the cash account. "If you can invest your money and, conservatively, get 6%, maybe 8% on that money over the next 10, 20 plus years, you're going to build an order of magnitude greater amount of wealth in that account that will absolutely help you offset the cost of health insurance in the future, especially after you retire."

We'll use my numbers as an example: My starting balance is $4,400 and I'm contributing the maximum, which comes out to about $345 a month. If I continue to invest that $345 a month into a target date fund, by 2050 (or, in 26 years), I'd have about $265,00 in my account, assuming the "conservative" 6% return Weiss pointed at. Of course, a return is "never guaranteed when you invest," he added.

If I earn 7.67% (the average return of my fund since inception), I'd have $345,000.

That number looks a lot different if I simply leave the money in the cash account for 30 years: It would amount to about $112,000, which is a $233,000 difference.

Note that, over time, that $345 contribution will increase if the HSA contribution limit set by the IRS continues to increase, meaning my nest egg could be even bigger.

Plug your own numbers into a compound interest calculator and see what happens when you invest your money, rather than keeping it in savings.

"The difference is significant, and it can really change the retirement projections for families out there," said Weiss.

While I didn't execute the HSA strategy perfectly — I could have invested my money sooner, and I also should have left a little more cash in the account — I'm on the right track by emulating what the rich do, according to Weiss.

"Educate yourself on what the high-earners are doing with their money," he said, including maxing out HSAs. "People may go, 'I'm not a high earner yet.' Or, 'I'm not wealthy yet.' And that's fine. Look at what other successful people doing to create wealth, and if you educate yourself on all those different ideas, you can get a head start on so many other people your age because we generally find out about these things 10 years too late."

Watch: A self-made millionaire shares 3 wealth-building concepts most people haven't grasped

how to prepare for timed essays

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  4. The Writing Process and How to Use it to Write Timed Essays

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  6. How to Write a Timed Essay: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

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  1. Helping students with essays I The best essay 2023

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  5. How to Write Effective Conclusions for Timed Essays (مع الترجمة)

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COMMENTS

  1. 9 Tips to Ace That Timed 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! Read the question carefully. The most critical part of the essay-writing process actually happens before you write your first word.

  2. How to Write a Timed Essay: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    No reader ever wants grammatical and spelling errors to be present. Submit on time. 2. Organize your time for a 30-minute timed essay. For a longer or shorter essay, use this same time ratio for each step. Read and understand the prompt = 1.5 minutes. Pick a position = 1.5 minutes. Jot down an outline = 2 minutes.

  3. PDF Timed Essay / Essay Exam

    timed essays, essay exams, or in-class essays, these essays require you to demonstrate disciplinary knowledge by producing a writing sample within a limited time period. Timed essays are popular because they allow teachers to grade students holistically in a very brief amount of time. This handout offers a few ways to prepare for timed essays ...

  4. PDF Timed Essay Writing Pre-Planning

    Timed Essay Writing. 1. Pre-Planning. Read the questions and passages carefully. Make sure you understand what you are being asked to do: summarize, analyze, or argue. Think about what you want to say and the time you are being given to say it, and schedule your time accordingly. 2. Planning. Resist the urge to start writing without first doing ...

  5. How to Write a Timed Essay in 45 Minutes or Less

    First of all, you need to relax. Take a deep breath, and don't get stressed out because you're feeling rushed. You need to feel in control of the time you have to avoid test anxiety. It's important to focus on the task at hand and not allow your mind to wander or worry. Now that you're relaxed, get to work.

  6. Timed Essays: Top 5 Tips for Writing Academic Papers Under Pressure

    Jerz > Writing > Academic. If you're facing a timed essay very soon, this handout offers some very basic, very quick tips. Plan your time wisely.; Answer the right question. Collect your thoughts.; Leave time to revise. Revise your thesis statement before you turn in your paper, so it looks like the conclusion you stumbled across was the one you planned from the start.

  7. How to Prepare for Timed Writing Exercises

    Set a timer for the amount of time you think you'll have to complete the assignment. If you're not sure how much time you'll be given, start with ten minutes. Then attack it like this: Choose a sample question for practice. Spend the first whole minute reading the prompt. Sit with it.

  8. PDF Tackling Timed Writing

    Tips for Timed Writing Writing a timed essay is similar to writing one outside of class, with the exception of the time limit. If you prepare to write in class just as you would outside class, you will do better. DO AVOID Prepare Outline key course topics, write mock exams at home (most textbooks include practice writing prompts).

  9. Writing Under Time Pressure: Tips for Timed Essays and Exams

    Here are tips on how to write a timed essay and tackle each section of your outline under pressure: 1. Use Abbreviations: Employ common abbreviations (e.g., 'govt' for government) to save time when typing or writing. Ensure your abbreviations are clear and widely recognized to prevent confusion. 2.

  10. How to Write a Timed Essay

    There are a few things you should recognize and accept before going into a timed essay. First off, know that you will not have any time to waste - it is as simple as that. The comforting procrastination you probably encounter often as you try to write an essay will not be an option here. You cannot allow yourself to space out, day-dream, get ...

  11. How to Conquer the Timed Essay Test—5 Dos and Don'ts

    Keep a loose plan for your time in mind, e.g., 5 minutes for your introduction, 30 minutes for the argument, 10 minutes for the conclusion and 5 minutes for proofreading. 4. "Keep it general. You don't want to sound too opinionated.". NO!

  12. 5 Great Timed Writing Exercises to Shake Up Your Creativity

    Using Write or Die can be an unpleasant experience, but for motivated writers it can also be a bracing challenge—and an excellent way to shatter a bad case of writer's block. 5. Use a "Stuck Word". The goal of any timed writing exercise is to write as much as you can—and as consistently as you can.

  13. How to Prepare for a Timed Writing Exam

    If you feel yourself starting to panic when the proctor or professor starts the clock, take a moment to calm yourself down. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Count to twenty. Then slowly open your eyes and with a calm mind start reading the essay prompt. Another thing that helps with stress is preparation.

  14. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Essay writing process. 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.. For example, if you've been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you'll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay, on the ...

  15. How to Prepare for an Essay Exam: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

    2. Outline your answers. Keeping your topics in mind (from the review stage), draft an outline to potential essay questions. Try to come up with a topic sentence and then arrange your supporting material, underneath, using bullet points. Don't wait until the night before to outline answers.

  16. Strategies for Timed Essays

    Timed essay tests can bring about a great deal of stress for students. The ticking clock is certainly a catalyst when it comes to test anxiety; however, the unknown components of an timed essay test are also daunting. The fact of the matter is, timed writing tasks will be a standard aspect of every student's education at some point. ...

  17. Teaching timed writing: Beyond the SAT • WriteShop

    Prepare for Timed Writing. Once students can identify key words and develop and polish essays in a pressure-free setting, they are ready to begin writing against the clock. During this training period, your goal is to build confidence, familiarity, and ease through regular practice. Give plenty of grace!

  18. Relevant Timed-Essay Prompts for High Schoolers

    Then students use that prompt to write an essay in the five-paragraph format: Introduction with the prompt, thesis and three points. First paragraph detailing thoughts on Point One. Second paragraph detailing thoughts on Point Two. Third paragraph detailing thoughts on Point Three. Conclusion.

  19. Good Timed Essay Types & Examples

    Start planning. Create a strategy you will use in writing your timed essay. Try predicting several possible timed essay topics and plan a response for each. If you can master identifying essay topics and creating an outline, you will have an advantage when writing your essay. Since teachers prefer grading high-quality essays, they sometimes ...

  20. Timed Essays: Top 5 Tips

    Answer the right question. Collect your thoughts. Leave time to revise. Revise your thesis statement before you turn in your paper, so it looks like the conclusion you stumbled across was the one you planned from the start. (This small step can often make a huge difference.) 1. Plan your time wisely.

  21. How to Prep for an Essay When You Don't Know the Prompt

    Once you understand the core themes of the articles you should be very well prepared to write any essay on these readings. An added step you could take is to consider or ask others, what some potential essay prompts from these articles could be, and then practice making an outline for them. Just from reading the titles and the subject matter, I ...

  22. How To Make Time For Writing: 12 Tips for Busy Authors

    12. Break your book into writing pieces. Finally, break the task of writing your book into pieces. Writing a book can feel like a Herculean task. A solid writing plan breaks that job up into achievable writing goals. This is critical to any writing program and one of the most important writing tips for any Author.

  23. Improve Your Paper by Writing Structured Paragraphs

    Download this Handout PDF In academic writing, effective paragraphs serve as building blocks to construct a complex analysis or argument. Paragraphing helps readers to understand and process your ideas into meaningful units of thought. What do paragraphs do? Imagine reading this page without paragraph breaks. Paragraphs create order and logic by helping your reader recognize…

  24. Essays About Time: Top 5 Examples And 8 Prompts

    3. Time is Money by Supriya. "Knowing how precious time is, we should never waste time, but make good use of it.". Supriya's essay is straightforward. After claiming that someone's success depends on how they use their time, she gives an example of a student who studied well and passed an exam quickly.

  25. We lose an hour of sleep tonight to daylight saving 2024. Here's how to

    Actively prepare for the adjustment. Taking steps to prepare for the time change is one way to conquer the daylight saving shift. In the days leading up to the time change, try going to bed and ...

  26. How springing forward to daylight saving time could affect your ...

    Daylight saving time begins Sunday at 2 a.m., an hour of sleep vanishing in most of the U.S. The ritual will reverse on Nov. 3 when clocks "fall back" as daylight saving time ends.

  27. 29 Writing Prompts for the 2024 Flash Fiction Challenge

    Day 2: Write a story where the title appears in the story word-for-word. Day 3: Write a story that takes place in the aftermath of something huge. Day 4: Write a story in the form of a museum exhibit placard.. Day 5: Write a story about a project left half-finished.. Day 6: Write a story that has the title "The Last Time I Spoke to X.". Day 7: Write about the character all grown up.

  28. How to check word count on Google Docs: Track your writing easily

    How to check word count in Google Docs. To check word count on a computer, make sure you have your file open. Select "Tools" in the top bar and choose "Word Count" in the dropdown menu.

  29. How to prepare before daylight saving time jump

    How to prepare for daylight saving time. Go to bed a little earlier Friday and Saturday nights, and try to get more morning light. Moving up daily routines, like dinner time or when you exercise, also may help cue your body to start adapting, sleep experts advise.

  30. I finally invested my HSA money after writing about millionaires who

    Investing my money could mean a six-figure difference in funds by the time I retire. A core part of my job is talking to successful individuals about how they invest their money.