Writing is hard enough as it is without the added pressure of having a limited amount of time.
Budgeting time takes on a greater significance when you only have a few hours to write too many essays.
I’ve extracted tips from my tired brain about writing under pressure:
- Write fast but not too fast. This goes for both handwriting and typing.
- Production not perfection. Don’t strive to be perfect. Do strive to be done.
- Be concise, clear. Try to know what you’re writing about to avoid beating around the bush.
- Prepare accordingly. There’s nothing like a simulation of the real thing. Studying and reviewing is good. Replicating the test conditions as closely as possible is great.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Like the protagonist in many YA novels, let out that breath you didn’t know you were holding.
- Try not to overthink. Most teachers aren’t trying to trick you.
- Just write something. Part marks are better than no marks at all. Get an idea down. It may lead to other ideas.
- Make connections. Concepts often interconnect. Draw out similarities and differences. Compare or contrast. Brainstorm with a mind map. Outline in a way that work for you.
- Write until you have nothing else to say. Stick with what you know when possible. Talking about what you don’t know makes your life harder.
- Use the time given. There’s no reason to stop writing thirty minutes into a three hour exam.
- Take care of any business beforehand. That way, you’re in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
- Eat and drink beforehand. A hydrated body beats a hungry one.
- Move on. Especially when you’re stumped. Tackle the next question. You can always come back to a problem later.
- Play to your strengths. Downplay your weaknesses.
- Answer what’s asked. Ideally, you do this right off the bat.
If nothing else, remember writing under time pressure is a skill you can cultivate.