How to write a 300-word essay in 30 minutes
Do not dive right in. If you begin writing immediately you will likely find it difficult to follow your critique all the way through without making mistakes in organization. Instead, take time to think about what you will be writing and create an outline first.
Here is a basic breakdown of how to use your time:
1. Dissect argument (3-4 minutes)
2. Select your points (4-5 minutes)
3. Outline (about 1 minute)
4. Type essay (18-20 minutes)
5. Proofread (2-3 minutes)
PART 1: Thinking about the essay
Let’s see how to do steps 1 and 2 on a sample essay question:
The problem of poorly trained police officers that has plagued New York City should become less serious in the future. The City has initiated comprehensive guidelines that oblige police officers in multiculturalism and proper ways to deal with the city’s ethnic groups.
Explain how logically persuasive you find this argument. In discussing your viewpoint, analyze the argument’s line of reasoning and its use of evidence. Also explain what, if anything, would make the argument more valid and convincing or help you to better evaluate its conclusion.
Step 1: Dissect the argument (2 minutes)
What is the topic and scope of the argument?
Topic: the problem of poorly trained police officers
Scope: a given solution, centering on mandatory classes
The argument’s conclusion?
The problem of poorly trained police officers that has plagued New York City should become less serious in the future.
What’s the evidence?
The City has initiated comprehensive guidelines that oblige police officers in multiculturalism and proper ways to deal with the city’s ethnic groups.
Arguments typically will be structured in one of two ways:
1) conclusion… because…. evidence
2) evidence…. therefore…. conclusion
Summarize the argument:
The problem of poor police officers will become less serious…
How does the argument use its evidence?
It uses evidence of multiculturalism training as evidence to conclude that future improvement is likely.
Step 2: Select the points you will make (5 minutes)
Does the argument make any assumptions? That is, are there gaps between evidence and conclusion?
- Multiculturalism training will improve the current situation
- The present police force has poor training in multicultural issues
- The current police officers in the field will go back for retraining.
Under what circumstances would these assumptions be valid?
- Evidence making it clear that the present police officers have not already had multicultural training.
- Evidence showing that multicultural training makes better police officers.
- Evidence showing that untrained police officers will not be teaching in the future.
PART 2: Writing the essay
Step 3: Organize (1 minute)
Create an outline. You may even sketch it into the pages provided to plan the spatial aspects of your essay: look and length.
a. State a clear thesis for the essay.
b. Make each heading correspond to a paragraph.
c. Make sure that there are at least five paragraphs.
d. Make sure that each heading corresponds to a topic sentence.
e. Be sure that the beginning and ending paragraphs tie the essay together. These should introduce and sum up the main ideas, respectively.
Step 4: Type your essay (20 minutes)
Write your paragraphs in the essay with great care.
a. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, which relates to the central idea of the entire essay.
b. The content of each paragraph should support the idea in the topic sentence (4a) above. For each paragraph, state an idea as the topic sentence and then give examples to support the idea or explain the idea completely. Make sure you are constantly referring to this central idea, and not becoming involved in peripheral arguments.
Step 5: Proofread the essay (2 minutes)
Make sure your “key” words, transitional phrases, major points, and examples, are properly spelled.