There's nothing like an approaching deadline to give you the motivation (and fear) you need to get writing – don't stress though, we're here to help you out!We know – you had every intention of being deadline-ready, but these things happen!
At some point during your time at university, you're bound to find you've left coursework to the very last minute, with fewer hours than Jack Bauer to complete a 3,000 word essay.
But don't sweat, cause 3,000 words in a day is totally doable! Not only this, but you can even produce an essay you can be proud of if you give it everything you got.
Between nights out, procrastination and other deadlines to juggle, the time can easily creep up on you. However, the worst thing you can do in this situation is panic, so keep calm, mop up the cold sweats and read on to find out how to nail that essay in unbelievable time!
Just to clarify – we're certainly not encouraging anyone to leave it all to the last minute, but if you do happen to find yourself in a pickle, you're going to need some help – and we're the guys for the job.
Are you a procrastination master? Check out these 13 hacks that will do wonders for your productivity levels, or these apps to help streamline your life!
Credit: Dimitris Kalogeropoylos – Flickr
Fail to plan and you plan to fail – or so our lecturers keep telling us. Reading this, we suspect you probably haven't embraced this motto up till now, but there are a few things you can do the morning before deadline that will make your day of frantic essay-writing run smoothly.
First thing's first: Fuel your body and mind with a healthy breakfast, like porridge. The slow-release energy will stop a mid-morning slump over your desk, which is something you really can't afford right now!
Not in the mood for porridge? Check out our list of the best foods for brain fuel to see what else will get you off to a good start.
Pick your work station
Choose a quiet area where you know you won't be disturbed. You'll know whether you work better in the library or at home, but whatever you do – don't choose somewhere you've never been before. You need to be confident that you'll be comfortable and able to focus for as long as possible.
Be organised and come equipped with two pens (no nipping to the shop because you ran out of ink), bottled water, any notes you have, and some snacks to use as mini-rewards. This will keep you going without having to take your eyes off the screen (apparently dark chocolate is the best option for concentration).
Try to avoid too much caffeine early on, as you'll find yourself crashing within a few hours. This includes energy drinks, by the way!
Shut out the world
Procrastination is every student's forte, so turn off your phone (or at least switch notifications off) and refrain from checking Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any other social media channels you're addicted to. We mean it!
A good tip is to get a friend to change your Facebook password for you for 24 hours and make them promise not to tell you it, even if you beg (choose a friend that enjoys watching you squirm). Otherwise, you can also temporarily deactivate your account.
Set yourself goals
Time management is of utmost importance when you have 24 hours before deadline. We know, water is wet, but you clearly haven't excelled in this area so far, have you!
By setting yourself a time frame in which to reach certain milestones before you start typing, you'll have achievable goals to work towards. This is a great method of working, as it makes the prospect of conjuring up 3,000 words from thin air much less daunting if you consider the time in small blocks.
Let's say it's 9am and your essay is due in first thing tomorrow morning. Here's a feasible timeline that you can follow:
- 9:00 – 9:30 – Have your essay question chosen and argument ready
- 9:30 – 9:45 – Break/ snack
- 10:00 – 12:00 – Write a full outline/plan of your essay
- 12:00 – 13:00 – Write your introduction
- 13:00 – 14:00 – Take a break and grab some lunch (you deserve it)
- 14:00 – 16:00 – Get back to your desk and do all your research on quotes etc. that will back up your argument
- 16:00 – 20:30 – Write all of your content (with a dinner break somewhere in the middle)
- 20:30 – 22:30 – Edit and improve – extremely important step, so take time with this
- 22:30 – 23:00 – Print and prepare ready for the morning
- 23:00 – (morning) – If you've not finished by this point, don't worry – completing in time is still possible. Just make sure you've eaten well and have enough energy to last you until the early hours of the morning.
Also remember to schedule in a few breaks – you need to spend the whole 24 hours productively, and you can't be on form for a full day without short breaks to rest your eyes (and your brain!).
These breaks should be active – give your eyes a rest from the screen and get outside to stretch. We recommend a ten minute break at least every 1.5 hours.
Choosing a question and approach
Time: 9am – 12pm
If you've been given a choice of essay questions, you should choose the one you feel most strongly about, or have the most knowledge about (i.e the topics you actually went to the lectures for!).
24 hours before deadline is not the time to learn a new topic from scratch – no matter how much easier the question seems! Also, beware of questions that seem easy at first glance, as often you'll find that the shorter questions or the ones using the most straight-forward language can be the hardest ones to tackle.
Next, decide your approach. How are you going to tackle the question? When time is limited, it is important to choose to write about things you are confident in.
Remember that it's your essay and as long as you relate your argument to the question and construct a clear, well supported argument, you can take it in any direction you choose. Use this to your advantage!
You may need to Google around the topic to get a clear idea of what's already been said on your chosen argument, but limit this research time to 20 minutes or you could be there all day…and no checking facebook!
Now, type out 3-5 key points that you'll aim to tackle in your argument, and underneath these use bullet points to list all the information and opinions, supporting arguments or quotes you have for each point. Start with the most obvious argument, as this will provide something to link your other points back to – the key to a good essay.
Once you've done this, you'll now find you have a detailed outline of the body of your essay, and it'll be a matter of filling in between the lines of each bullet point. This method is perfect for writing against the clock, as it ensures you stay focused on your question and argument without going off in any tangents.
Nailing that introduction
Credit: Steve Czajka – Flickr
Time: 12pm – 1pm
Sometimes the introduction can be the most difficult part to write, but that's because it's also the most important part!
Don't worry too much about making it sound amazing at this point – just get stuck into introducing your argument in response to your chosen question and telling the reader how you will support it. You can go back and make yourself sound smarter later on when you're at the editing stage.
Create something of a mini-outline in your introduction so you signpost exactly what it is you're planning to argue. Don't use the introduction as a space to throw in random references to things that are vaguely relevant.
When in doubt, leave it out!
Doing your research
Credit: Photo Monkey
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Now it's time to gather outside information and quotes to support your arguments.
It's important to limit the time you spend on this, as it is easy to get distracted when Google presents you with copious amounts of irrelevant information. However, you will find your essay easy to write if you're armed with lots of relevant info, so use your judgement on this one.
Choose search keywords wisely and copy and paste key ideas and quotes into a separate ‘Research' document. If using reference books rather than online, give yourself ten minutes to get anything that looks useful from the library, skip to chapters that look relevant and remember to use the index!
Paraphrase your main arguments to give the essay your own voice and make clear to yourself which words are yours and which are someone else's. Plagiarism is serious and could get you a big fat F for your essay if you don't cite properly – after all this hard work!
Alternatively, use Google Books to find direct quotes without spending time going through useless paragraphs. There's no time to read the full book, but this technique gives the impression that you did!
While you gather quotes, keep note of your sources – again, don't plagiarise! Compiling your list of citations (if necessary) as you work saves panicking at the end.
Extra referencing tips!
Take quotes by other authors included in the book you're reading. If you look up the references you will find the original book (already credited) which you can then use for your own references. This way it looks like you have read more books than you have, too. Sneaky!
Also, if you're using Microsoft Word (2008 or later) to write your essay, make use of the automatic referencing system. Simply enter the details of sources as you go along, and it will automatically create a perfect bibliography or works cited page at the end. This tool is AMAZING and could save you a lot of extra work typing out your references and bibliography.
Bashing those words out
Credit: Rainer Stropek – Flickr
Time: 4pm – 8.30pm
Get typing! Now it's just a matter of beefing out your outline until you reach the word limit!
Get all your content down and don't worry too much about writing style. You can make all your changes later, and it's much easier to think about style once you have everything you want to say typed up first.
More ideas could occur to you as you go along, so jot these ideas down on a notepad – they could come in handy if you need to make up the word count later!
Use the research you gathered earlier to support the key ideas you set out in your outline in a concise way until you have reached around 2,500(ish) words.
If you're struggling to reach the word limit, don't panic. Pick out a single point in your argument that you feel hasn't been fully built upon and head back to your research. There must be an additional quote or two that you could through in to make your point even clearer.
Imagine your essay is a bit like a kebab stick: The meat is your essential points and you build on them and build around each piece of meat with vegetables (quotes or remarks) to make the full kebab… time for a dinner break?
Editing to perfection
Time: 8.30pm – 10.30pm
Ensure that all the points you wanted to explore are on paper (or screen) and explained fully. Are all your facts correct? Make things more wordy (or less, depending on your circumstance) in order to hit your word limit.
You should also check that your essay flows nicely. Are your paragraphs linked? Does it all make sense? Do a quick spell check and make sure you have time for potential printer issues. We've all been there!
A lot of students overlook the importance of spelling and grammar. It differs from uni to uni, subject to subject and tutor to tutor, but generally your writing style, spelling and grammar can account for up to 10-20% of your grade. Make sure you edit properly!
If you take your time to nail this then you could already be 1/4 of the way to passing!
Time to get started…
While completing essays 24 hours before the deadline is far from recommended and unlikely to get you the best grades you've ever gotten (try our top tips for getting a first if that's your goal), this guide should at least prevent tears in the library (been there) and the need for any extensions. Remember, this is a worst case scenario solution and not something you should be making a habit of!
Now, why are you still reading? We all know you've got work to do! Good luck!
Exams coming up? Check out our guide on how to revise in one day too. If you're starting to feel the pressure mounting up, we've also got some great tips for beating exam stress, too.
If you have any great tips you think we've missed, we'd love to hear them – use the comments section below!
So, it’s Saturday night, and you got a 3000 word headache – that’s an essay you have to submit on Monday and you don’t have a clue …how to start, where to begin and what to write? What do you really do? What about the party you want to go to? FFS – you would rather drink carbon dioxide and choke in Mars, than write that dreaded essay. OK, in normal circumstances you would fret over an essay that’s long and tortuous. But, if you are cool, go sleep.
That’s right. Just sleep on it, because I’ll tell you how to write a 3000-word freaking long essay in just about a few hours. Wake up Sunday morning – 3000 words, 3 hours – and you’re done. Pure. Undiluted. Genius. How about that? So, how do you write a super-long essay in a super-short period of time? How long does it take to write a 1000-word essay or a 3000-word essay? Usually a 1000-word essay should not take more than 2 hours and a 3000-word essay should not take more than 5-6 hours for a seasoned writer, but I will tell you how to go faster than that, and how to write that essay in half-the-time, needed by even a professional essay writer. The keyword is “focus”. It is very important that you focus on what you write. When you are distracted, it takes an inordinately long time to get any information on paper or on the computer for that matter.
A college student who has never written an essay or only scrambled a few words or class notes on a page would probably take a day or even two or three days to write a 3000-word essay. It’s a battle with the brains and an endless struggle with the keyboard. But if you know the tricks of the trade, if you know how to write fast and write smart, it’s a breeze, you can knock it off in just 3-4 hours.
How? If you ask me how long it would take to write a 500-word essay, it should take less than 30 minutes and a 1500 word essay should take an hour or 70 minutes max. Really? I am not really drunk or smoking pot as I write this, I’m telling you what’s completely plausible. The trick is to remember the three Rs – read, recollect, regurgitate. Finally, you don’t create information, all information that you use in your essay, will have to be rehashed and reused from other primary and secondary sources, especially when you are writing factual, objective content rather than subjective or reflective content. Reflective content, such as reflective essays cannot be rehashed, you have to use your own experiences. But remember, you need to be creative and original at all times, no matter what type of essay you are writing. Here’s an example. You are given an essay topic – say, on the Theory of Evolution and you must write it in your own words and answer the specific essay question or the research topic. Try to avoid Wikipedia and Copy-paste, frankly that doesn’t help you to learn and the University will kick you out anyway. So, what would be the best way to approach the problem, so that you can finally ace a really long and difficult essay, in just a few hours?
Don’t Copy-Paste….don’t do it! / Image Source: Tumblr
Usually a 3000-word essay will take about a day for a meticulous student or a non-seasoned writer. However, with these simple tricks and ten steps, you can knock off your big, OMG-WTF-IDK- essay in less than 3-4 hours. Just remember to follow these steps and focus. As I wrote, attention is very important, you cannot remain distracted while you are writing an essay. Your attention will give you the precision and the speed you need to write a super-fast essay.
So, if you’re ready, here are the steps.
Collect your references and resources. Go google, pull down the library literally or simply use the catalog, that’s easier. Everything works. Use the search engine, type your search terms and download the research papers or books you need for the essay. Look up all the sources you need – the author’s original book – check, original source of the research topic – check, research papers – check, student dissertations – check, web sources on the Theory of Evolution or the essay topic – check. Finally, you have the resources you need and that’s the first important step. You should not take more than 30 minutes to gather all your resources, if you look up your library catalog and internet search engines or develop your own creative ways to search for sources, it should be an easy and enjoyable process.
Read up all the material you have collected. Again, be creative during the reading process, understand what works best for you and how you can learn fast and easily. Read the simple or easy papers and explanations first, then move to the more academic or scholarly ones, which means follow the “bottom-up approach” to learning, it sure helps. If you are extremely intellectual or scholarly type, go straight into the scholarly papers and you’ll be fine. Read these resources and reading material quickly and thoroughly, and you should be done in 30 minutes. Remember to read only those parts that are directly relevant to your essay because that saves time, and being a bit selective about your reading will increase your efficiency, and effectiveness of the entire reading process.
Once you are confident that you have a good understanding of the topic, write down the main points. This means, create a new word document on the computer, jot down the primary points you will include and list all the references you want to include, you can do the formatting later, so don’t bother about it in the beginning . Use a heading, sub-heading if needed, running head if required, and title as required by the specified citation style. Check out more about citation styles here. Your paper should start looking like a well thought-out outline, and the structure should be in place. So, now you have the skeleton or bare bones of the paper ready with the title, references and main points, so you’re all set. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Let’s say now that you’ve checked in and ready for the wild ride.
Fast is a wild ride / Image source: howtoplaza.com
This is when the ride really begins. Go back and read your resources again and this time, read according to the skeleton or structure you have created. So, you have the points, go back and read the details for the points. Read and store the points in your memory and if you forget, go back and read again. Yes, re-read the main points and the details, then memorize. This is the basic learning process and read your material several times to feel confident and comfortable with your content. Developing a sense of familiarity with the content or the topic is very important when you want to present it in your own way. This process should not take more than 30 minutes. So, now two hours of your time is gone, and your paper is ready for you to take a dive..
You guessed it. Take the dive. Recollect what you read, and it should be easy actually. Write down all that you can remember really fast, don’t worry about spellings and grammar at this time. Write all that you can remember like you’re on a fast and wild ride, in a jet boat or a rocketship or something. Yes, imagine yourself moving really fast, on a rocketship or a jet boat and go real fast on your keyboard. Check the primary points you have noted and write all the details for each point. This should not take more than 30 minutes if you really focus. Did I say focus? Forget all the external noise, the background music and your neighbors’ bickerings, just focus and write very fast. You got speed? Test it!
Test your speed / Image source: hongkiat.com
Once you are done writing the details – your draft is almost half-done. Go back and check the resources, see whether you missed out or messed up on certain points. Read these thoroughly and get back to your computer and start writing again and edit as you go. Read and re-read. Include the missing points and write as fast as you can – again don’t worry about spelling or grammar or formatting. Just write, and rewrite.
In an hour or 90 minutes, you’ll probably realize that you have written enough and that your rough draft is almost ready for some dressing up – 1000 words? Probably done, 2000 words? Almost done. 3000 words? Maybe, needs some more meat (means substance) or dressing (additional details). A to 2 hours to write as you would require additional details 3000-word essay will probably take around 90 minutes and additional substance and content. By the end of the 90 minutes, you should be done constructing and writing a real, full-blown essay that you know will wow your friends. How does that feel?
So Voila, you did it! You wrote an essay! Not exactly climbing the Mount Everest or winning the Wimbledon match maybe, but close – you achieved something. Now, this next step is to read the entire essay. Try to understand what you’ve written, whether the essay and your arguments make sense, whether it flows smoothly, whether it has a structure and whether it is relevant to the topic or answers the research or essay question. Answering the essay question and adhering to the relevant direction of the topic are very important points you must remember. Also, you must edit, edit and edit. Then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite to get a final, smooth, and polished essay.
But wait….you’re not really done. Remember what you actually did not do? You must do the formatting, spelling, grammar check for your essay and add all the accessories. Doing a spell check and grammar check is mandatory and makes you look like a seasoned essay writer, rather than just another college guy pulling off an accidental piece of writing. You can even use some of the spell and grammar tools available on the web. There are some integrated spell and grammar features in the word document software, so use that. Or use Grammarly and other software available on the internet. However, in many cases, it is best to use your own knowledge, because sometimes these tools may not be reliable. Format the essay correctly according to the citation style that your school asked for, add page numbers, headers, and format paragraphs, and references. Give it around 30 minutes and the formatting, spell check, and grammar should be done.
Editing is serious business / Image source: houzz.com
The last step is doing a plagiarism check, to see whether you missed quotation marks, whether your words or sentences are similar to the original authors, then use references and citations. You know if you don’t do a plagiarism check, you’ll be booted out of the University and in that case, you can’t really re-boot. Check the citations, add citations and references and check to see whether you missed a few points or whether there are missing references. Do all that and make your paper ready for submission. The last preparation phase should not take more than 15 minutes and bam – print it. You’re done.
Congratulations! Your big, fat, freaking essay is now done – in 3 hours or probably less than 4 hours- so, now what? Repeat the – party.
Don’t get stuck….p(r)ep up / Image Source: Pinterest
Conclusion / Notes:
There are several points you must remember while writing an essay really fast. I talked about focus, resource collection, reading, memorizing, writing fast, editing and spell check, checking grammar and other details. One thing that slows down essay writers is a boring topic, and another thing is distraction. As I advised, shut off your surroundings for a few hours to keep the distraction away, it’s all on your mind. Kick out the boredom – the topic can become very interesting if you develop this spirit of adventurism and go a bit deeper about the subject matter. Let’s say, you are doing AI research and already bored with algorithms and stuff like that, go online and check videos on AI applications, killer robots and try to imagine how your knowledge can actually save the world. Finding a greater purpose always helps and you’ll be all motivated and pepped up to take on just not an essay, but the entire coursework. Remember the steps above and good luck writing your next essay, whether you are a student writing your first essay, a researcher writing your tenth essay or a professional essay writer writing your 100th essay. The same rules apply for everyone and it is about developing focus, motivation and interest. Love what you do and you can take on the world.