One of the challenges of timed writing is making quick decisions about content and organization. The brainstorming stage is limited and requires you to move swiftly into composing your paragraphs. A luxury of drafted writing is that you can spend time exploring different supporting ideas before revising and finalizing your essay.
With timed writing, a thorough understanding of the prompt is first needed. You need to recognize the linguistic task (compare, describe, argue, explain) and create a thesis statement and supporting points that make a clear road map for what you will say. Additionally, you need to check the prompt to ensure that you are addressing all of the points.
Once you have analyzed the prompt, you should be able to start structuring your outline to ensure you have all of the necessary components.
Making a brief list of the parts of the prompt that are most important to respond to or include is a great first step for creating your thesis statement, topic sentences, and overall outline.
Understanding and including all of the parts of the prompt is important for two reasons.
The first reason is that the question is specifically designed to get you to write about the target content. A multi-part question indicates the degree of complexity that the audience expects to find in your response. If you miss information from your response, it can be interpreted as missing knowledge about an important concept for the course.
Second, your audience may attribute missing information to a lack of language. This is especially true in a language test like the TOEFL where the audience knows nothing about your ability other than what you show. Not writing about part of the question could be an avoidance strategy because you do not have the vocabulary or grammar control necessary to respond. This may also be an unfortunate assumption at the college level as well, especially if your professor has minimal interaction with you.
Therefore, it's in your best interest to carefully read through the prompt and dissect it. This strategy will lead to a stronger response with more purposeful organization.
First of all, an outline will always benefit you. You may think that the best idea is to immediately start writing because the time is limited, but that could lead to a very disorganized presentation of an answer. Read the prompt carefully and make a brief outline of ideas so that you know all parts of the prompt will be addressed and all of your most important details will be included.
Your outline should include the important basics you will practice throughout this semester:
Read the prompts below. Identify the linguistic task. Break the prompt down into the individual parts.
Choose one of the prompts below. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Write your response to the question. Remember to leave time for revision.
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