Timed writing can take many forms, but the clear requirement of this type of writing is a time limit to complete it. A time limit most commonly occurs in an exam situation, where the tester is evaluating how well you understand a topic and/or can explain your thoughts without any help (ex. teacher, peer review, spell check, translator, etc). The amount of time and the expected length of your writing will depend on the instructions.
You could expect to find a timed writing portion of a test or quiz in any subject. It doesn't matter if you plan to study business, engineering, music, or linguistics. Timed essays are used frequently to get you to analyze, argue, or create something with what you have learned. Essays push you to show more than just recognizing a correct answer.
The first strategy for timed writing is to fully understand the expectations. This means that when you encounter a timed writing prompt, you should first think about the context.
Usually you will know in advance that there will be a timed writing component to an assessment, so you can think about these questions beforehand. This will help you prioritize your time.
Think about how to use the time as a helper. Think about how you can use the time to keep yourself focused. For example, if the essay is only a small part of the total test grade, control the amount of time you give yourself to write the answer and use more of your time for the other questions. You might do this by answering that writing question first under a stricter time limit before you answer any of the multiple choice questions. Divide your the time you have to work with so you can work smarter.
As another example, you may only have 30 minutes to work on an essay. In order to work quickly, you could follow a time schedule like this:
|Time (Counting down)
Write your thesis and topic sentences (outline)
|Write your first body paragraph
|Write your second body paragraph
|Write your introduction paragraph
|Write your conclusion paragraph
|Revise and edit your essay
You might wonder why this example starts with the body paragraphs instead of the introduction and conclusion. This is one suggestion of how to focus your time to develop your ideas and create a good organziation for the main part of the essay. The introduction and conclusion are usually easier to write after you have the middle. If you run out of time, you would still have at least your thesis statement and restatement as the minimum expectation for the beginning and end of your essay.
There are other approaches to choosing which paragraph to start with:
You will obviously need to structure your times differently depending on the length of time you have to work with. It may also be necessary to adjust times depending on what is most important to the teacher. For example, there may be a larger emphasis on accuracy, so you will need to give yourself more time to revise and edit
Take some time to look over the writing rubric used for the Language Acquisition Test used at the ELC
Before you begin writing, ask your teacher questions about the expectations for this timed writing practice. Listen carefully and decide how you will focus your time to meet those expectations.
Set a timer for 20 minutes. Write about the above topic. Your response should be between 250-300 words.
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Access it online or download it at https://open.byu.edu/academic_b_writing/timed_writing_1.