The nature of timed writing means that you are extremely limited in your ability to review your work and make changes. However, even just 5 minutes reserved at the end to check your writing can make a big difference. Don't be tempted to submit an essay early when those remaining minutes could help you catch some easy to fix mistakes.
Before you take a test with a timed writing question, look at feedback your writing teacher has given you on your writing.
- Has your teacher given you feedback on an organization issue more than once?
- Have you been given comments about problems with developing ideas?
- Is there feedback that shows you that your ideas are not clear on the first draft?
- Does your teacher comment frequently about sentences being unconnected to the rest of the paragraph?
Looking at the patterns of feedback you have received in the past will help you focus the short revision time you have on looking where mistakes are most likely to occur in a first draft. Since that is what a timed writing response is, it's a good place to start with your revisions. Meet with your teacher during office hours before a test if possible to get tips for how to recognize and resolve those errors during the test.
In addition to the writing feedback you have been given, take some time to review the feedback you get from your grammar teacher about your grammar accuracy in writing.
- Are there patterns of errors with specific grammar structures that you can look for?
Meet with your grammar teacher during office hours before if possible to get tips for how to recognize and resolve those errors during the test. It might be as simple as checking that all of your sentences start with a capital letter or looking for subject-verb agreement. Knowing the mistakes you make most frequently can empower you to make quick changes.
One of the common concerns that readers have when they read an opinion essay is that there are logical errors (also known as fallacies; you can click here to learn more about logical fallacies) that weaken your supporting ideas. This is a complex topic, so we will just address common issues with logic that happen in timed writing.
- Do any of your supporting ideas move away from the main idea (thesis) by introducing details that aren't directly relevant? (red herring)
- Are any of your supporting details exaggerating or misrepresenting the opposite point of view? (straw man)
- When you explain the consequences, do your supporting details include a series of events that are not supported by evidence? (slippery slope)
- Is there a supporting idea that takes one example and says that all situations will be the same, even though there might not be support for that? (hasty generalization)
- Did you include any statements that suggest something is true only because it is popular or commonly believed? (bandwagon)
Revising claims that are weak can take much more time than you will have in a timed essay. However, knowing the common types of mistakes can help you to avoid them or quickly notice and replace them.
Developing strong logical supporting details is a skill that takes time and practice, so don't get discouraged if this is feedback you get from your teacher. Keep trying and ask for advice on how to improve!
Exercise 1: Review Feedback
For this exercise, you will need to have access to recent feedback on your writing and/or grammar assignments.
- What do the comments say about your organization, development, clarity, and unity?
- What types of grammar corrections do you frequently receive?
- Are there any examples of logical errors in your assignments? If so, did your teacher give any suggestions on how to fix the issue?
Exercise 2: Timed Writing Practice
You have 30 minutes to respond to this prompt. Your answer should be around 300 words long. Remember to save the last 5 minutes to check your writing.
Prompt: What are the causes of poverty? Explain two major causes of poverty in your answer. Be sure to use examples and clear explanations of how your points lead to poverty.