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10 Great Essay Writing Tips

how to write essay last minute

Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.

Prepare to Answer the Question

Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.

how to write essay last minute

Plan Your Essay

Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.

Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable

You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.

how to write essay last minute

View It as a Conversation

Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.

how to write essay last minute

Provide the Context in the Introduction

If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.

how to write essay last minute

Explain What Needs to be Explained

Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.

how to write essay last minute

Answer All the Questions

After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.

how to write essay last minute

Stay Focused as You Write

Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.

how to write essay last minute

Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread

When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.

how to write essay last minute

Avoid Filling the Page with Words

A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.


how to write essay last minute


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How to Finish an Essay Last Minute and Do it without Losing Quality

Adela Belin

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It’s the start of the week; you head to college and realize everybody is talking about the research paper submission. “Isn’t that due next week?” you ask, only to be told it was due the previous day. You hurriedly check your calendar and are in for a rude shock – you missed the deadline.

Just then, your alarm rings, and you wake up sweating. Thankfully, it was a dream!

However, the fact remains that you have a submission in four days, and you are nowhere close to starting it.

Given the busy college schedules, academic pressures, tight deadlines, and in many cases, even juggling a part-time job, it’s no surprise that college students are struggling with stress and anxiety .

Need a College Essay Urgently? Order Now and Get 15% Off

According to a 2018 American College Health Association report , over 60% of college students said they had experienced “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year. Looming essay deadlines have a significant role in contributing to this stress.

Smart Last-Minute Essay Writing Tips You Can Use

Doing an essay last minute is enough to give you the chills. Regardless of how much you plan to start early, you constantly find yourself racing against time.

However, doing an essay last minute does not mean you compromise on the quality. Here are 14 smart ways to write your last-minute essay and still do a good job.

Stop panicking

At this point, you are filled with anger, self-loathe, and guilt. You keep telling yourself that you should have started earlier and hate yourself for putting off the college essay till the very end. While you are bound to have such negative thoughts, you must do away with them because they are futile and will only obstruct your concentration.

The first step to approaching a last-minute essay is to stop panicking and actively start working toward your essay. It would be best if you created a positive mindset and workspace to do full justice to it.

Stay away from distractions

When you begin work on your essay, you receive a notification on your phone, and the next thing you know, you have spent the next few hours doing everything else but working on your college essay.

It’s easy to get distracted and away with time, but you must remind yourself that you cannot afford to do so. Doing an essay last minute requires your undivided attention, considering you have limited time.

So, whether it’s Instagram, Netflix, or even your friends, stay away from distractions and focus on completing the essay.

Here’s an interesting TEDx Talk by Chris Bailey on focusing better.

Commit to a topic

Writing a last-minute essay makes you more likely to doubt yourself and be in two minds. After reading the instructions carefully and researching, choose an essay topic and stick to it. By second-guessing yourself at every point, you will only be wasting time.

Work on the outline

You may wonder if you can afford to work on an essay outline when you run out of time. The answer is yes; structuring your essay is always worth it.

Having an outline saves you time, ensures you have covered the key points, and maintains a logical flow throughout. For instance, if you are writing a research paper, the outline needs to include the following sections:

  • Title – the shortest page; this needs to mention what your paper is about succinctly;
  • Abstract – a summary of your paper in 150 – 200 words;
  • Introduction – include the essay hook, explanation of the topic, and the thesis statement;
  • Methodology – describe the methods used to conduct the research;
  • Results – state the outcome and substantiate it with statistical data, tables, and graphs;
  • Conclusion – reinstate the thesis statement while summarizing the findings of the research;
  • References and Citations – cite all the references in this section.

Once you have established these, note down the points you plan to include under each section before you begin writing.

Set mini-deadlines

In an ideal world, one would finish the essay in a single sitting, but we all know that’s a little too difficult to achieve. There does come the point when we reach a stage of exhaustion, and pushing ourselves to work beyond that means doom.

To avoid burnout, break your writing into parts and give yourself mini-deadlines. For example, aim to finish writing three sections in four hours and then allow yourself to relax. Tackling the paper in parts keeps your mind fresh, and you can think more clearly in the process.

Set a timer

Since you already created an outline, set a timer for writing every essay section and try to finish before the timer goes off.

For instance, you can set the time at 15 minutes for writing the introduction and try to complete it before the end of the 15 minutes. Once you finish the introduction section, take five minutes to review it and see if it makes sense without bothering to correct the grammar.

Set the timer again for the first body paragraph, then the second, until you have covered all the sections on your outline.

Increase your typing speed

It won't be easy to finish your essay fast if you’re a slow writer. To finish writing within the shortest time possible, you need to increase your typing speed.

How do you increase your typing speed? Sit upright and maintain a good posture while typing (ensure you are not looking at your screen at an angle). Let your elbows rest on the table and slightly elevate your wrists.

As you type, focus on the screen instead of your hands. This will help you start typing faster.

Use writing and editing tools to save time

Want to save time? Several writing and editing tools can automate some processes to save time and help you finish your work faster. Some of the best online tools you can use when writing last-minute college essays include:

a) Grammarly

Grammarly is one of the best editing tools for editing your essay. The software uses artificial intelligence to identify errors related to spelling, punctuation, sentence structures, and even plagiarism.

After you finish writing, pass your essay through Grammarly to help you identify and correct grammatical errors. It will save you the time you’d spend revising your essay to identify and correct such mistakes manually.

b) Evernote

To finish your essay faster, you’ll need to organize your notes to promote the flow of thought and help you write more quickly.

Evernote is one online writing tool that will help you organize your notes effectively, so you don’t need to keep everything in your head when researching. You can take clips, and screenshots of relevant web pages, reference documents, images, and graphics for later use when writing.

This way, you won’t need to surf the internet all over again when you start writing. You can use the software anywhere, at any time, without any charges.

c) Hemingway Editor

Another editing tool to help you edit faster when writing last-minute college essays is the Hemingway Editor. You can decide to type on the app or copy-paste your essay onto the app after you finish writing.

Instead of spending time reading your essay and trying to identify errors alone, Hemingway will help you highlight lengthy and complex sentences and suggest ways to improve them.

It will also identify adverbs and weakening phrases to eliminate from your essay to make it more meaningful. This online editor will improve readability and make your essay easy to read and understand.

d) Dynalist

Nothing makes writing easier and faster than outlining. They help you organize your ideas ahead of time so that when you start writing, you won’t get stuck in the middle. An essay outline will also help you stay on topic and answer all the essay prompts effectively.

The good news is that you can use online tools to write outlines fast to save time, and one of them is Dynalist. You can use the free version of this online tool to capture your points into flawless outlines and flesh them out later when you start writing.

These tools will help you finish writing fast since you won’t spend much time editing manually after writing.

Turn off spelling and grammar checks

While writing tools help you edit your work, the best way to write faster is to turn off the spelling and grammar checkers until you finish writing your first draft.

Since you want to write fast to finish your last-minute essay, underlining errors as you write may be more of a distraction. The checkers sometimes underline correct words, and you may spend time thinking about how to replace the word or correct sentences instead of focusing on writing.

Therefore, consider turning them off until your first draft is ready; you can turn them on and start editing your essay.

Write the introduction and conclusion at the end

Introductions and conclusions tend to require more time when writing an essay. This is because they are supposed to be compelling, thoughtful, and engaging. You, therefore, need a little brainstorming to write these parts.

To save yourself some time, skip the introduction and go straight to explaining your points in the body paragraph.

You’ll spend less time on this section since you have already researched and identified your sources. After completing the essay body, you’ll have a clearer picture of your essay, and the introduction will take you less time to write.

The conclusion will also take less time to write since it will summarize the points you already discussed in the essay.

Cite references alongside

Citing references is an integral part of essay writing. Citing sources and providing evidence to support your claims shows you pay attention to detail and adds to the credibility of your essay.

However, given a situation where you are writing a last-minute essay, there are chances of making more errors or skipping this step altogether. To avoid this mistake, citing references and to write the essay is a good idea.

What does this mean? Every time you include a quote, fact, or piece of information that needs referencing, ensure you make a note of it immediately, so you don’t waste any time hunting for it later.

Alternatively, you can also use a citation generator.

Citing all your reference articles can be time-consuming and deter you from completing your essay fast .

You can use several citation generators to cite articles accurately to have your essay references right. You must copy and paste the generated citation to your list of references at the end of the essay.

Some of the best citation generators you can use include MyBib, CiteThisForMe, CiteFast, and Bibme. The tools help you format your references in APA, MLA, or Chicago style, depending on your essay instructions, all for free.

Proofreading the college essay must not be overlooked regardless of how much time you have in hand. This is even more crucial while writing an article in a hurry because you are more likely to make mistakes.

After all the effort put in, the last thing you would want is to submit an essay with grammatical mistakes and formatting errors.

So, put aside quality time to proofread your essay and edit it accordingly. It is also a good idea to share a copy with your parents or friends and get a second set of eyes on your work.

Take short breaks

Even though it’s the last minute and you want to finish writing your college essay fast, short breaks can still come in handy.

Sitting on the table for too long can tire your mind and body, making you a less effective writer. When your mind is clogged up, it hinders the flow of ideas, and you may be unable to knit your ideas into meaningful paragraphs.

Therefore, consider taking short breaks of 5 to 10 minutes, after which you can return to your table and write with a fresh mind.

Get professional help

Doing a last-minute essay can be overwhelming. Sometimes you don’t know where to begin, and your anxiety gets the better of you.

However, college essays affect your grades, and you should not submit substandard work. So, if you find yourself stuck, reach out to a last-minute essay writing service. Writers Per Hour is one such essay writing service that can save you from all the stress and anxiety that comes with last-minute essay writing.

Our instant essay writers are trained to meet deadlines and tackle all sorts of specialized essays ranging from math, law, and chemistry to nursing, biology, and accounting.

Be it 24 hours or 1 hour, when you turn to us for last-minute college paper help , you are sure to receive nothing but high-quality, original essays right on time to meet your deadlines.

Are you stuck on writing an essay?

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about writing last-minute college essays.

How long should it take to write a college essay?

The longer the essay and the more complex the topic, the longer it will take to write. A typical 5-page essay would take around 14 hours to write:

  • Brainstorming, researching, and outlining: 8 hours;
  • Writing: 4 hours;
  • Proofreading, editing, and formatting: 2 hours.

Is it possible to write an essay in one day?

Absolutely! It’s possible to write an essay in one day. All you need to do is prepare and do the research in advance. When you start writing, focus on your essay, and turn off distractions like social media notifications and chatting with friends.

Can I pay someone to write my last-minute college essay?

Yes, you can pay someone to write your essay . However, the person you hire needs to be a subject matter expert and a skilled writer who can deliver quality work quickly.

For instance, Writers Per Hour has urgent essay writers trained to deliver essays within the stipulated deadline. One page paper in 5 hours will cost you $33.99 if you are in high school. If you are a college student, the price will be $41.99 - $47.99, depending on your course.

We recommend you check our prices and discounts before making any decision, as we regularly conduct promotional campaigns for new and regular customers. So, check out our offers which start from 15% to 25% off any order.

How do you write an essay 10 times faster?

To write an essay ten times faster, plan your writing and research. Create an outline and bookmark the relevant sources you’ll be using. Increase your typing speed, and use online writing tools to help you edit faster.

Irrespective of how much time you have, don’t make the mistake of plagiarizing someone else’s work, as it can lead to severe consequences such as expulsion or ruin your chances of getting selected. Hence, always ensure you submit original work and if you cannot do it yourself, seek help from last-minute essay writing services.

Last-minute essay writing is not ideal, but, in many instances, it cannot be helped either. So, the next time you find yourself in a similar situation, instead of hitting the panic button and haphazardly approaching the essay, follow these smart tips and don’t let the lack of time affect the quality of your essay.

Last edit at Jul 27 2023

Adela Belin

Adela Belin

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essay writing overnight

A student protester's guide to last-minute essay writing

I f those trips down to the demos in Westminster have left you behind schedule for your end-of-term assignment, you may well be forced to write in the small hours this week. Here's how to pull it off safely and successfully.

12am: Get as far away from your bed as possible

Before you begin, avoid warmth and soft furnishings. Propped up on pillows in the glow of a laptop may feel like savvy ergonomics, but your keyboard will start to look pillow-like by midnight, and 418 pages of the word "gf64444444444444444444" will detract from the force of your argument. You could try the kitchen. Or Krakow. But your industrially lit 24-hour campus library should do the trick.

12:25am: Take a catnap

Thomas Edison used to catnap through the night with a steel ball in his hand. As he relaxed and the ball dropped, he would wake up, usually with fresh ideas. "Caffeine and a short nap make a very effective combination," says Jim Horne, director of the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre. "Have the coffee first. This takes about 20 minutes to work, so take a 15-minute nap. Use an alarm to wake up and avoid deep sleep kicking in. Do this twice throughout the night."

12.56am: Reduce your internet options

Temporarily block Twitter, Spotify, Group Hug, YouTube, 4od and anything else that distracts you. Constantly updating your word count on Facebook may feel like fun, but to everyone else you'll look like you're constantly updating your word count on Facebook.

1-3am: Now write your essay. No, really

You've widened your margins, subtly enlarged your font and filled your bibliography with references of such profound obscurity that no one will notice you're missing 3,000 words. It's time to brainstorm, outline, carve words, followed by more words, into that milk-white oblivion that taunts you. Speed-read articles. Key-word Google Books. Remember texts you love and draw comparisons. Reword. Expound. Invent. Neologise. Get excited. Find a problem you can relish and keep writing. While others flit from point to point, your impassioned and meticulous analysis of a single contention is music to a marker's eyes.

3-5am: Get lost in your analysis, your characters, your world Write like you're trying to convince the most stubborn grammarian about truth, or heartless alien invaders about love. Don't overload with examples – be creative with the ones you have. Detail will save your life, but don't waste time perfecting sentences – get the bulk down first and clean up later. "The progress of any writer," said Ted Hughes, "is marked by those moments when he manages to outwit his own inner police system." Outwit your own inner police system. Expect progress. Ted says so.

5:01am: Don't cheat

It's about now that websites such as will start to look tempting. And you may sleep easier knowing that a dubiously accredited Italian yoga instructor is writing about Joyce instead of you. But the guilt will keep you up between now and results day. And you'll toss and turn the night before graduation, job interviews, promotions, dinner parties, children's birthdays, family funerals . . . you get the idea.

5.17am: Don't die

Sounds obvious, but dying at your computer is definitely trending. And however uncool it may seem to "pass on" during a five-day stint at World of Warcraft, it will be much more embarrassing to die explaining perspectivism to no one in particular. So be careful. Stay hydrated. Blink occasionally. And keep writing.

5.45am: Eat something simple

"There are no foods that are particularly good at promoting alertness," says Horne. "But avoid heavy and fatty meals in the small hours. Avoid very sugary drinks that don't contain caffeine, too. Sugar is not very effective in combating sleepiness." Fun fact: an apple provides you with more energy than a cup of coffee. Now stick the kettle on.

5.46am: Delight in being a piece of living research

If you happen to be "fatigue resistant" you should now be enjoying the enhanced concentration, creative upwelling and euphoric oneness that sleep deprivation can bring. If not, try talking yourself into it. "Conversation keeps you awake," says Horne. "So talk to a friend or even to yourself – no one will hear you."

6am: Console yourself with lists of writers who stuck it out

Robert Frost was acquainted with the night. Dumas, Kafka, Dickens, Coleridge, Sartre, Poe and Breton night-walked and trance-wrote their way to literary distinction. John and Paul wrote A Hard Day's Night in the small hours. Herman the Recluse, atoning for broken monastic vows, is said to have written the Codex Gigas on 320 sheets of calfskin during a single night in 1229. True, he'd sold his soul to the Devil, but you're missing out on a live Twitter feed, so it's swings and roundabouts.

7am: Remember – art is never finished, only abandoned

Once you accept there's no more you can do, print it off and get to the submissions office quick. Horne: "You're not fit to drive if you've had less than five hours sleep, so don't risk it. Grab some exercise." Pop it in with the breeziness that comes from being top of your marker's pile. Back home, unblock Facebook and start buffering The Inbetweeners. And then sleep. Get as near to your bed as you can. Euphoric oneness doesn't come close.

Matt Shoard teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.

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  • 20 Top Tips for Writing an Essay in a Hurry

how to write essay last minute

In an ideal situation, you’d have all the time in the world to write a great essay, but sadly it doesn’t always work out that way. There will always be times when you’re required to write an essay uncomfortably quickly, whether because of a tight deadline imposed by a teacher, or because you’ve been so busy that the essay has ended up being put off until the last minute. However, it is possible to produce a good piece of work even when very pushed for time, and in this article, we’re going to show you how.

1. Adopt the right mindset

Before you start writing, it’s crucial to get yourself into the right mindset. You may be experiencing feelings of panic, feeling as though you don’t have enough time and you can’t do it. You may feel defeated before you’ve even begun. To be successful, however, you will need to banish these negative feelings . It’s vital to be positive, to try to relish the challenge, and to adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude. If it helps, imagine it’s a battle that you’re going to win. Give yourself a pep talk, and keep the end goal in mind: you’re going to do a great job and impress your teacher. You’re going to prove to yourself that you can take on this challenge, enjoy it, and write an essay in record time. Take a deep breath, remain calm, and start to attack the work systematically and logically.

2. Switch off your phone and social networks

The last thing you need when you only have a couple of hours to write an essay is to get distracted by your phone or social networks, which have a habit of eating away at your time without you even realising. Procrastination isn’t an option at this late stage, so it’s time to ban yourself from your phone, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, iPlayer, YouTube, and anything else you think might distract you. Sit somewhere quiet and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. If it helps, install a full-screen text editor onto your computer, such as Darkroom , to force yourself to look at your essay and only your essay. You can also get browser apps that keep you off social networks for a time period of your choosing.

3. Type your essay rather than handwriting it

Most young people these days type faster than they write by hand, so unless you’ve been told that you must handwrite your essay, type it. This will make it much easier to edit what you’ve written and change things around, and you’ll be able to get more words in through typing quickly. It’s probably also going to be easier for your teacher to read a typed document than your handwriting, and you won’t suffer an achy arm that could slow you down, so that’s an added bonus.

4. Read the question carefully

When you’re in a rush, it can be easy to skim over the question and think you’ve understood it – only for you to realise, after writing most of the essay, that you got the wrong end of the stick and it’s too late to change it. This is particularly hazardous when you’re under pressure, because your brain has a tendency to see what it wants to see; it may tell you that the title is asking a question that you want to answer , while the reality might be subtly but crucially different. So, start by reading the question very carefully and ensuring you’ve completely understood what it’s asking you to do. If it helps, underline key instructional words in the title, such as “compare” or “analyse”. This forces your mind to focus on the right kind of task, so you write the essay with this in mind.

5. Get your books ready

Prepare your workspace by opening the books you’ll need to use on relevant pages, or putting Post-It notes in them to mark where relevant information is. This means you won’t have to keep wasting precious time hunting through books to find the information each time you need to refer to it.

6. Sum up your argument in a sentence

To get yourself thinking clearly about what you’re going to be writing, see if you can sum up what your argument is going to be in a single sentence – a bit like an ‘ elevator pitch ’. If you can’t do this, the chances are that you don’t quite know what you want to say, with the result that you may end up waffling in your essay, thereby wasting valuable time. It’s important to set out with a clear idea of what your argument is, because then everything you write subsequently will be working towards the goal of getting this particular argument across. Of course, don’t spend too long on this and end up with not enough time to write the actual essay!

7. Write your notes directly into the document

When you’re in a hurry, your notes can double up as an essay plan, killing two birds with one stone. Start by typing your essay notes directly into the document you’ve created for your essay. This could be bullet points or one-sentence summaries of what you want to write in each paragraph. For each point, also include a line or two on what evidence you’re going to use in support. Once you’ve done this, organise the notes into a sensible structure by dragging and dropping paragraphs into an order you think works. This becomes your detailed essay plan.

8. Then rewrite your notes into an essay with an argument

You now have the outline of your essay in note form. You can now turn your notes into an essay by rewriting them into academic prose, complete with ‘filler’ sentences that glue it all together and help build your argument.

9. Save the introduction and conclusion for last

Perhaps surprisingly, the introduction and conclusion of an essay are often the hardest bits to write. So, save these for last. By the time you’ve written the body of the essay, the task of writing the introduction and a summarising conclusion should be much easier, as you’ll already have spent plenty of time on your argument and you’ll be very familiar with it.

10. Do the references as you go along

If you’re required to add references and a bibliography to your essay, do these as you go along to save time. Each time you quote someone, add in a footnote saying where the quote is from, and at the same time, copy and paste the details of the book into a bibliography at the end of your document.

11. Proofread as you go along

Save time on proofreading by checking over each sentence or paragraph for spelling, grammar and typos as you write it. When you’ve finished writing, it’s still worth having a quick final read through your essay for a sense check and to ensure that it flows well – but this should take less time now that you’ve already checked for errors.

12. Don’t be tempted to copy and paste

The internet is full of resources that probably exactly match what you’re going to be writing about, and when you’re in a hurry, there can be a strong temptation to copy and paste useful paragraphs into your essay. Don’t ever do this! Plagiarism is not only immoral, but it also means that you won’t learn the topic in as much depth – and the whole point of writing an essay is to consolidate what you’ve learned and prepare you adequately for future exams. Teachers can use Google too, and if they suspect that you’ve stolen someone else’s work by copying and pasting something off the internet, all they need to do is type one of ‘your’ sentences in Google and they’ll instantly find where you’ve got it from. It’s normally easy to spot copied work, because the style will be different from the rest of the essay. It’s just not worth the risk, as you’ll lose your teacher’s trust and this will probably be reflected in the quality of the reference they give you for university.

13. Try not to over-quote

A common tactic by students pushed for time is to use too many quotes – or very long passages – from other people (scholars, sources and so on) to bolster the word count and reduce the amount of writing they actually have to do themselves. Try to avoid doing this if you can; it’s a transparent tactic and shows that you haven’t fully mastered the subject yourself, so you have to resort to hiding behind the words of others. The vast majority of the writing in the essay should be your own. Short quotes here and there, accompanied by your commentary on them, are a good thing; lots of long quotes that take up much of the essay, with little explanation from you, are not.

14. Keep your style concise

You’re not going to have time for long-winded sentences, so keep your written style as concise as possible. There’s nothing wrong with being short and to the point in your sentences, providing it adequately conveys what you want the essay to convey. Being economical with words will ensure that you express yourself clearly as well as saving you time, so it’s a good idea all round.

15. Try a change of scene

If you’re struggling to concentrate on writing your essay in your normal work space, a change of scene might be just what you need to focus your mind. If you normally work at home, try heading to the library or a local coffee shop to see if you can work any better there. If you’re distracted by noise at home, try some noise-cancelling headphones or simply put some music on.

16. Take a break (but only if you feel you need one)

It sounds counterintuitive when you’re pushed for time, but taking short breaks from time to time will stop you running out of energy and keep you focused. If you have two hours to write the essay, for instance, take a break for five minutes after you’ve worked for an hour. That said, if you’re really ‘in the zone’ and working efficiently, and you don’t feel you need a break, just work straight through and take advantage of your spate of productivity for as long as it lasts.

17. Don’t bother with the usual tricks

Many students try to trick their teacher into thinking that their essay is longer than it really is by widening the margins, selecting a bigger font and using wider line spacing. Your teacher will see straight through this, and it might irritate them – so don’t bother!

18. It’s OK to use Google for quick research

While Google is no substitute for reading what you’ve been told to read, it can be useful for quick definitions or getting to grips with something you’re struggling with at the last minute. Don’t rely on it, by any means, but if you’re writing your essay and haven’t quite understood something in class, a quick Google search should enable you to acquire the level of understanding you need.

19. Keep hydrated and fed

Make sure you drink plenty of water while you’re writing, as this will help you stay alert. You may also want to equip yourself with some snacks to keep you going, as this can make the process of writing an essay more bearable as well as maintaining your energy levels.

20. Reward yourself

Give yourself something to look forward to once you’ve finished the essay, as this will help to motivate you to complete it. It could be a chocolate bar, the promise of watching an episode of your favourite television show, or an evening out with friends – anything that will provide sufficient incentive to get your essay finished. You’ve worked intensively and have a great essay to show for it, so you deserve a reward!

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How to Write an Essay in Under 30 Minutes

Last Updated: February 18, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Arash Fayz . Arash Fayz is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of LA Tutors 123, an academic consulting and private tutoring company based in Los Angeles, California. Arash has over 10 years of educational consulting experience, managing the tutoring of students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to score higher on standardized tests and gain admission to their target schools. He has a BA in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 593,994 times.

If you’re taking your SATs this year, you may be preparing to write a solid essay within the 30 minute time limit. Or you might be trying to improve your writing speed to complete essay exams faster and more efficiently. Writing a five paragraph essay in under 30 minutes can seem daunting, but with the right planning and time management, it is certainly achievable.

Sample Essays

how to write essay last minute

Planning the Essay

Step 1 Spend 10 minutes planning the essay.

  • For example, you may get a prompt in the form of quotation: “Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [3] X Research source
  • You may then receive a question attached to the prompt: “Are there some heroes who will be remembered forever? Or are all heroes doomed to be forgotten one day?" Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science. [4] X Research source

Step 3 Brainstorm your thesis...

  • For example, you may brainstorm the Longfellow quote/question by thinking of personal examples of heroes who are remembered or forgotten, such as family members, friends, teachers, or peers who have acted as heroes to you or to others. Or you may focus on a historical figure who seems to be a forgotten hero or a decorated hero.
  • This essay question is asking for two sides of the discussion, the forgotten hero and the remembered hero. Your thesis should discuss both sides and choose one side to argue for or against.
  • You may choose to spotlight a historical figure who encountered opposition and challenges in her life, such as the suffragette Susan B. Anthony. Anthony worked tirelessly for decades to get the government to recognize women’s right to vote, and was often derided by the government and by individuals within her own organization. She is a good example of a hero who was not recognized as a trailblazer until late in her life, though she is now remembered as a heroine in history. Try to refer back to the quotation in the essay prompt in your thesis, if possible, to show you have read the entire question.
  • A possible thesis statement could be: “Though Longfellow argues that names, or heroes, may be forgotten over time, one historical figure, Susan B. Anthony, was derided in her lifetime for her beliefs but is now remembered as a heroine of her time.”

Step 4 Create an outline.

  • Introduction: Your beginning paragraph should contain an engaging first sentence and your thesis statement. Some writers find it easier to write create a temporary introduction and revise it once they are finished with the essay. This will ensure the introduction is cohesive with the rest of the essay.
  • Conclusion: This paragraph should summarize your main argument and restate your thesis. You may also want to include last thoughts around the essay question.

Writing the Essay

Step 1 Take 15 minutes to write the essay.

  • Try to spend two to three minutes on each body paragraph. Then, take three minutes on your conclusion paragraph and go back to your introduction. Spend the last three minutes revising your introduction so it matches the tone and perspective of the rest of your essay.

Step 2 Use a hook in your introduction.

  • An interesting or surprising example: This could be a personal experience or a key moment in the life of the historical figure you are discussing in your essay. For example, you may discuss Anthony’s childhood as a Quaker and her later adoption of more casual dress and growing interest in social reform at the age of 26. [9] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
  • A provocative quotation: This could be from a source you used for your essay or one that feels relevant to your topic. For example, you may use a well known quote from Anthony, such as: “Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” [10] X Research source
  • A vivid anecdote: An anecdote is a very short story that carries moral or symbolic weight. Think of an anecdote that might be a poetic or powerful way to start your essay.
  • A thought provoking question: create a question that will get your reader thinking and engaged in your topic. For example: “Did you ever wonder how women received the right to vote in the United States?”

Step 3 Write your three body paragraphs.

  • Body paragraph 1: You may start by discussing Anthony’s early successes. Look at the establishment of the Women’s Loyal National League in 1863 by Anthony and Stanton. As the first national women’s political organization in the United States, it had a membership of 5000 and provided a platform for women to speak out on issues like slavery and women’s right to vote. [12] X Research source
  • Body paragraph 2: You may discuss Anthony’s mid career struggles. Look at the split in the women’s movement in May 1869, with the establishment of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) by Anthony and Stanton, and the rival American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Note how after the Civil War, Anthony devoted her time and life to the suffrage movement, assuming leadership of the NWSA in 1890 and continuing to advocate for women’s rights. Anthony also remained unmarried, which gave her an advantage under the law, as married women at the time were not permitted to sign official documents and had to defer to their husbands. [13] X Research source
  • Body paragraph 3: You may discuss Anthony’s later life, including her many speaking engagements throughout the United States on the need for women’s suffrage and equal rights. Though Anthony died in 1906, and did not live to see the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution, affording women the right to vote in the United States in 1920, her forty years of tireless work paved the way for the legal precedent and gave women a strong sense of empowerment and equality. [14] X Research source

Step 4 Summarize your thoughts in your conclusion.

  • For example, you may restate your thesis: “Throughout her life, Susan B. Anthony’s sacrificed her time, energy, and personal livelihood to advocate for women’s rights, proving that though many heroes may be forgotten, their actions will live on in history.”

Editing the Essay

Step 1 Use the last five minutes to proofread your essay.

  • For example, an essay on Susan B. Anthony could have the title: “An Unsung Heroine” or “Susan B. Anthony: An Advocate for Change”.

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About This Article

Arash Fayz

In order to successfully write an essay in under 30 minutes, you need to plan it out and work efficiently. Take a good 10 minutes to plan out the essay and come up with a thesis statement that will convey your argument and help guide your essay. It may seem like a large chunk of your time, but it will save you from having to rewrite or restructure your essay later on. Then, take 15 minutes to write your introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Use the last 5 minutes to proofread your essay and look for spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. Don’t worry about coming up with a title until you’re finished. It will be much easier then. For tips about how to edit an essay you write in under 30 minutes, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Your Ultimate Guide to Last Minute Essays

Essay due tomorrow? Just started? Let us help. 

Step 1. Self-Control App. Download it now.

If you don’t know what this is, google it and download it as fast as you possibly can. Trust me. Because no matter how many times you promise yourself you won’t get on Facebook, let’s be honest: that website is irresistible when you are trying to write an essay. Heck, have a field day. Block StumbleUpon, Twitter, and whatever other sites you might be into these days, and block them until your essay is submitted. Just get off the internet. You’d be amazed how productive you can be.

Step 2. Take a deep breath.

You can’t do anything if you can’t breathe, and I bet you won’t be writing much if all you can think about is how stressed you are. Just take five minutes (I promise five minutes won’t destroy your chance at finishing) and refocus. Eat a snack, play your favorite song, sing into a hairbrush, dance around, it doesn’t really matter. Let your brain, and your body, relax. You are no good to yourself paralyzed by anxiety.

Step 3. Ready, begin!

Start by outlining your argument. And if you don’t outline, that’s okay, because it doesn’t need to be a full or detailed list of what you’re going to say and when you’re going to say it. If that’s not normally a part of your process, don’t do it. Instead, spend as much time as you need to explore the topic so that you won’t get to the third page and realize you were wrong or didn’t prove your thesis. That’s the other thing; state your thesis. Underline it, circle it, and highlight it. Make sure you understand exactly what you are arguing, because forgetting your thesis is the best way to waste time. It doesn’t matter what your essay is: yes, you do need a thesis statement. Figure out exactly what you want it to be, and then make sure you can support it. Find a couple quotes now, and make a note of where they came from.

Step 4. Write like the wind.

You don’t have a lot of time, so make it count. Keep your outlined notes in front of you, and type out your ideas as they come. Do not, I repeat, do not get stuck on word choice or spelling mistakes. Get your ideas out, and, no matter how ugly they might look, wait and copy-edit at the end. Working through grammatical errors will only distract you from what’s really important, which is proving your thesis. Keep checking in at the beginning of each paragraph: how does this relate to my thesis? Moreover, don’t let yourself get bogged down with organization. If you are having trouble with structure, go back to the basics:

  • Topic sentence: How does this relate to my thesis?
  • Lead into the quote
  • Quote (and cite the source)
  • Analyze the quote
  • But don’t you dare just repeat your topic sentence!

Step 5. Edit.

Check your argument to make sure you stuck with the prompt and your thesis. Double-check your evidence to see that you supported your point. See if your organization makes sense, and that you included some transition sentences between paragraphs so it flows. Now, copy-edit. Check for repetitious word choice, tense shifts, grammar, and spell-check. If you can delete any words from a sentence, do it. Repeat, as many times as you can, until you submit your essay.

Step 6. Sleep.

Job well done, so take a well-deserved nap.

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