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Is it normal to write poorly on timed essays?

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Posted

I consider myself not a terrible writer, that is, when the instructor/professor gives the essay assignment weeks before it's due with adequate time for me to think and write properly. However, when the clock is ticking and I have a set time limit to write a coherent and well-developed essay, it is extremely stressful. The stress of it makes me forget to write adequately and the final product is not an accurate measure of my writing ability. The final product is like something a 10 year old may crank out and that is just sad. Timed essays are my weakness.

Is it normal to write poorly on timed essays?

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Posted

yes it's normal. i myself suffer from that. Whenever out teacher asks us to write timed essays, i usually have all these ideas prepared in my head but for some reason, i end up staring blankly at the piece of paper like it's some sort of asteroid. 

I feel so much more comfortable writing an essay in my laptop with no one pressuring me. 

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Posted

I was told that you write BETTER under pressure. I don't know how true that is but I had to write an Eng proficiency final and I pretty much aced it. I felt my grammar hasn't improved going into the final..

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Posted

I think it's a skill you can pick up over time. Of course, it depends on the class and how familiar or easy the material is to you (ex. if the class is super easy, you should be able to pace yourself and just write all your ideas out on paper). Obviously if the material is hard, you may be scrunched (and possibly stressed out and scared), so you could end up forgetting specific points in your paper, important info to cite or refer to, etc.

In regards to what has been previously said, yeah I've heard about people supposedly working better under pressure. For me it's definitely not the case, though (unless it's finals, where we are given 3 hours to write. Haha)

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Posted

I think it's normal for most college students to feel like that. Time-essays does not give you enough time to think things thoroughly and it is going to make you cringe everything together to try to write a good essay. But, if you know what you are doing and have prepare practicing for it then it helps you more. I did time essays before and it sure was complicate more than when I don't have time essays.

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Posted

It's normal. My English teacher (I'm a high school student, but I am taking some college-level courses) told us this as well. Everyone has different ways of processing thoughts and writing, but essentially, there are two basic types of writers:

1) People who write as they think; people who do this tend to need more time in the reviewing stages, since the majority of the essay/writing is just writing as they think (hence, more time is needed for review). These are normally people who don't spend a lot of time planning.

2) People who plan everything out before writing (either on paper or in their heads); people who do this tend to spend more time on the planning stages, as opposed to the reviewing stage. Many times, this type of writer will actually work out the majority of the essay in their head (including exactly how they will write things).

Generally, people who plan everything before writing do better on timed essays, because they don't need as much time to review/edit. And honestly, both will spend about the same amount of time actually writing the essay. If you're the first type of person, you just have to force yourself to spend at least five minutes to plan out what you are writing, and you have to write faster so you can leave enough time at the end to edit (though, ideally, everyone should have enough time in the end to edit). Just know how you write, and work with it.

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Posted

My writing used to suck butt... I guess it's just all a matter of practice. It takes time to think and write down your thoughts. It takes more time to actually figure out the correct grammar and spelling...

I guess that you should focus on what the teacher grades the most, whether it's getting your point across or getting grammar correct.

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Posted

For me, how well my essay is written in class depends on how well I feel and the topic I have to write about. I didn't manage to write my first in class essay very well, but when it came down to final's time I was able to write a very well written five page paper within just two hours. I think I just was well rested and confident for my final instead of confused of what to write the first time because at that time, it was about me instead of a topic. In the end, it all just depends on how the instructor presents the essays and how you're prepared for it.

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Posted

It's 'normal', though you can actually prepare yourself and practice before hand. Timed essays can be a pain in the richard simmons, but hey, since everyone's in the same plight, the playing field is pretty levelled again. :) If you've studied, and practice by timing yourself during normal assignments, you'd eventually get used to pacing yourself. And like @junjun-x says, planning helps alot. I usually take at least 5 minutes to plan what I'm going to write, the main points and stuff, and underline the main points in the essay questions (especially the long ones, so that you won't missed out anything) before I write. This facilitates my thinking as I write.

And of course, you have to train yourself to write faster (but also legible in the same time). And instead of setting aside 20-30min for editing at the end, I always write things after I've gone through them in my head. At the end I usually take only ~5-10 at most to re-read what I write, and edit the grammar mistakes, but that's all.

When you're practising at home, it gets really tiring (I use to write hours and hours of timed essays with practice questions) but you'd really see the improvement with each exam. :)

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Posted

I actually have a tendency to write better on timed essays than take home stuff. I think this has more to do with the fact that with take home essays, I have the leisure to procrastinate until the last moment, whereas I don't really have much choice with an in-class timed essay.

I've had a bit of practice in HS writing timed essays (thanks to APUSH) that carried well over into college. Like what most people already mentioned, spend about 5-7 minutes reading over the prompt and brainstorming. I usually have the format with key thoughts, examples, quotes, etc jotted out before delving into the actual writing. This definitely helps out a lot.

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Posted

i dont know about anyone else, but i write even worse when it comes to timed essays... when it comes to writing essays, i need EXTRAAAAA time.

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Posted

I write poorly on timed essay's, I feel pressured and end up forgetting to include points but I guess practicing will help improve time management :)

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Posted

I think it depends on the person. Some people who produce something they can only do once at the moment, like a live concert or timed writing, can produce their best work because they have the adrenaline rush and pressure.

I think timed writings are one of the best ways to gauge a person's writing ability. In a limited time with no access to dictionaries, example essays, reference books, you only have your brain. When you have adequate time, you have all those resources and the time to edit your writing so you think it will turn out more satisfactory than the timed essay.

The more you get used to timed essays, the easier/more comfortable it gets. I actually like timed essays better than those take-home essays because you can get it done during one class time and I was used to it. Oh, and I'm the type to edit and re-read billions of times if I had a take-home essay, so it saves time.

edit: a tip I have for timed writing: for 40~60 minute essays, limit your brainstorming time to less than 5 minutes. just keep on writing, even if it's nonsense, since that pushes you to generate more ideas in your head. don't stop your hand! sometimes that nonsense actually turns out to be pretty deep. you can edit that part later if you have time.

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Posted

+1 ^

I'm sure that there is also a "higher criteria/level" expected from you for essay assignments because you can pick the essay question to answer, books/journals to read and most importantly, you can take your time actually writing the essay.

On a personal note, I hate essay assignments because I'm lazy.. 100% exam ♥

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Posted

i hate writing but i don't mind doing timed essays.

i'm a visual learner so i have to see how i want the essay to come out.

i've learned to manage the time on what i want to write.

paragraph 1- introduction

paragragh 2- why i agree with my point

paragraph 3- why others would not agree with me

paragragh 4- rebuttal to paragraph 3

paragraph 5- conclusion

i know it sounds so middle school/ high schoolish but if i have a picture in my head on what and how i'm going to write, ideas, facts, and arguments comes easily in to my head. i'm able to put it all out. of course there might be more than 5 paragraphs if the topic is good and i have tons to say, but that's how i usually picture it in my head.

everyone has a different learning and writing style, just find one that works for you.

i feel like those cooking show where you only have 20mins to make a desert and you just gotta blueprint it fast in your head.

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Posted

edit: a tip I have for timed writing: for 40~60 minute essays, limit your brainstorming time to less than 5 minutes. just keep on writing, even if it's nonsense, since that pushes you to generate more ideas in your head. don't stop your hand! sometimes that nonsense actually turns out to be pretty deep. you can edit that part later if you have time.

Really? My English teachers always tell me to use more than 5 minutes to brainstorm, and then write. They say that when you spend more time brainstorming, it's easier to keep writing, especially since your ideas are more developed. 

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Posted

Yep it's normal. Sometimes they're lucky if they can tell that I'm a native Canadian born student with all the grammar mistakes on my essay LOL.

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Posted

I'm just a horrible writer and I tend to stick with simple vocab in timed since I don't have the chance to thesaurus every word. <_<

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Posted

it is completely normal. the tendency is that your mind is too conscious about the time that you forget to allot your energy in coming up with a coherent outline so you could come up with a comprehensive and nice flow of thoughts in your essay. 

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Posted

I think it's normal to do poorly on timed essays. I get so pressured with the time that I don't know what to write. My vocabularies are really simple and I make mistakes with grammar too. Ugh! >_< I just try to get the main idea down...

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