How to write a 5-7 page paper in under 90 minutes
Writing a successful paper on a time crunch is a skill that is helpful to all students, regardless of major or education level. Whether you procrastinate to the last moment, have a timed paper you need to do in class, or want to get an essay out of your way, writing a paper in under 90 minutes is a valuable tool to keep in your arsenal. Below you’ll find a couple of tips from student Neela Gilbert and Professor Robert Braathe on how to write a five to seven-page paper in under 90 minutes.
Tip 1: Don’t procrastinate
Chances are you may be searching online “How to write a paper in under 90 minutes” because you have a test you didn’t prepare for tomorrow, so it may be a little late for this tip. However, if you can, don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating helps destroy self-discipline and self-accountability. You take a couple of days off from homework, and suddenly you have five papers and a lab due tomorrow. Getting assignments done early gives you more time to relax without worrying about the homework load you have due. If you have a timed essay to take in class, remember to start immediately on it and not procrastinate, doodle, space out, or anything of that like. Ten extra minutes of free time at the end of class will be more rewarding than five stressful minutes of free time in the beginning.
Tip 2: Outline
If you’re given time before your paper to outline, utilize this time! Professor Braathe finds that taking five to ten minutes to plan out your introduction, thesis, body paragraphs, and conclusion can cut down the time it takes to complete your paper and make it easier to read for your professor. Knowing the specific points you want to make will guide your research to make it more detailed. Additionally, knowing the organization of your paper makes it easier to write, as you’re filling in the big blanks you left in your outline. Lastly, knowing the direction you want your paper to flow in will ease editing as you now have a solid guide to stick to.
Tip 3: Split up the time
Splitting up the time you use during your 90 minutes can benefit your brain and your grade. If you can, split your time into 30 minutes each for researching, writing, and editing. Professor Braathe encourages using the Pomodoro method, which finds that splitting up tasks into uninterrupted time periods and breaks can help one effectively finish any task. The recommended times are 25 minutes of hard work and 5 minutes of break. However, you can experiment with this timing to find the period that works for you. Make sure you are doing this paper in a space with no distractions (technology, other tasks, people talking, etc.) so you use the most out of your time. Adopting this technique into your work method can help you complete the task at hand, keep your essay time under 90 minutes, and show off the best of your writing skills.
Tips for Researching
When starting your paper, you should spend your first 30 minutes researching. Take advantage of your school’s online databases and libraries. Remember to diversify your sources so your ideas are more valid. This means using unbiased sources (check below for examples on the media bias chart) and different media types (newspapers, journal articles, government reports, videos, etc.). If multiple unbiased sources back up your ideas, your paper has more credibility and will get you closer to that higher grade. Look for bias in an article’s wording and tone, the author’s own educational background and experiences, and the credibility of the website/platform (stick with .gov and .edu if you can). Professor Braathe recommends finding at least two sources per page for your paper, so you have enough room for quotes or paraphrasing and commentary on your evidence. Start a bibliography and quickly annotate your sources to keep your ideas organized. If you can’t find enough credible research supporting your thesis, it may be worth it to reevaluate your thesis to make it easier for you to write the paper. If it’s feasible, after you’re done researching for the half-hour, take a break up to a day-long to let all the new information sink in.
Tips for Writing
After finishing your research, you should spend the next half hour writing. If you can’t be completely distraction-free during the entire 90 minutes, you should spend as much distraction-free time as you can on writing. Getting into your groove, where you’re simply writing and not looking at the time or other distractions, will ensure that your paper hits all the points you need it to. When in doubt, overwrite, as you’ll have time to delete or cut down paragraphs after your main writing session. This session is where you should let your voice shine, as well as your conviction for your thesis. Cite your sources, and if you feel that you don’t have time to do so, at least mark where they are so you can go back in and edit them later. If you feel that writing isn’t your strong suit, add logical commentary to your evidence and prove your points. Professors may add points for creative writing, but they won’t take them away for writing that answers the prompt and uses sources to back up its claim.
Tips for Editing
Editing is an underutilized process that a lot of students skip over. Professor Braathe urges using the last full 30 minutes to edit, as it can drastically change your paper from excessive to easy to read and polished. One tip student Neela Gilbert recommends is printing out your paper and editing it by hand. Although apps, like Google Documents and Microsoft Word, have come a long way, editing by hand allows you to conceptualize the edits you’re making and any change they make to your paper with the contrast of a colored pen to black ink.
Planning and an organized thought process are the keys to success for any paper. You should complete a paper within the allotted time period by managing your time, outlining, and staying on top of your assignments. For more information, listen to Professor Braathe’s podcast episode on how to write a five to seven-page paper in under 90 minutes.