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09/04/2019

How to write a good English essay in 40 minutes?

QUESTION
How to write a good English essay in 40 minutes?
I find it really difficult to finish good-quality essays within 40 minutes under exam conditions. I always think of too many points to make, and end up trying to stuff them in, which means they are usually poorly explained and presented.

Our school are saying that within the allocated 40 minutes, the first ten minutes should be spent planning. Am I the only one who thinks this is TOO long? Surely I won’t have enough time to actually write it? A the moment, usually spend about 2 minutes planning, and begin to hurriedly write my essay. But I’m beginning to realise that my points can be disorganised and my essay poorly structured. Does planning really help? And if I do plan, I always think of way too many points, and so miss a loads out, or analyse them poorly in order to put them all in.

So… does planning really help? How long would you recommend spending doing it? Thanks!

ANSWER
I do some planning before I write my essays. However, it’s not 10 minutes sitting there just thinking. I typically write out an outline that looks something like this:
I. General Essay Topic
A. Major Point One
a. supporting detail
b. supporting detail
B. Major Point Two
a. supporting detail
b. supporting detail
After the I., I typically write my thesis statement. Under A & B, I take two points that I will try to make. (Maybe similarities and differences, depending on what type of an essay it is.) Then I add supporting details under them.
This should not take you 10 minutes; at most, maybe 7-8. It will help keep your thoughts in line and really, can’t hurt! Good luck!