Tips and Tricks for a Great Essay

Emma Hoffman, Staff Writer

With finals coming up, essays are a requirement for almost every student, most of which are timed. Many students can find this part difficult, so AP Literature teacher Trista Anderson has some steps for how to write a good essay in a short time period.

  1. Figure out the meaning of the text quickly.

When writing an essay based on another document, as students have to do in most English classes, ask yourself three important questions:

  1. What is the text about?
  2. What is the tone?
  3. How is the author achieving 1 and 2?

If you know the answers, you likely have a good understanding of the text. If not, go back and re-read until the text makes more sense.

  1. Write a good thesis.

A thesis sentence acts as a guide to your essay in the introduction, and is necessary for any essay. The thesis gives you an idea of what you’re going to write, and gives the reader an idea of what they are going to read. In AP English classes, a good thesis can make or break your essay.

  1. Make sure you understand the question and answer it correctly.

This applies to all pieces of writing, whether it being an essay or short answer. No matter how good your writing is, if it doesn’t correctly answer what was being asked, you won’t get a good score. When you have a time constraint, it’s easy to want to skim over the question and get to writing, however, while you shouldn’t spend too much time on that one question, you should make sure you carefully analyze the question, and then plan what you’re going to write accordingly.

  1. Double check your answer.

When writing a timed essay, or even just a paragraph, you likely won’t have time to revise what you wrote, such as finding grammar and spelling errors. However, it’s important you re-check everything you’ve written, to make sure you have correctly answered the question. On pieces like this, your teacher is more concerned with the big pictures than small errors.  

  1. Read a lot.

This isn’t something you do when actually writing, but it will help when you have to. The more you read, the easier it will be for you to write well with less revisions.

  1. Be confident.

Writing for a grade can be stressful, and having a time constraint definitely doesn’t help. However, being nervous and stressed will only make focusing and writing more difficult. Try to relax and tell yourself that you are prepared to do well, and it’s more likely you will.

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