09 Jun

Essay Exams Get a Deadline Makeover

Can your own writing learn from fast and furious newspaper writers? You bet it can! An essay exam is a race to finish your story in a desperately short time. Did your teacher ask for  1500 words on the causes of the American Civil War? You have one hour to write. Just like a newspaper reporter racing to publish the latest news.

So how do reporters turn out great writing in a short time? First, they make a quick outline of the topic – picking no more than three main points. For exams you’ll want to use a separate sheet of scratch paper. Here’s an example

Outline = Causes of the American Civil War

  1. North and South divided over issue of slavery
  2. Southern fear of growing northern federal control of their states
  3. Cultural and economic differences between North and South

Be sure to leave lots of blank space after each of the three items.

Next list any key facts that you have in your mind for each of the three main points. How many slaves were there when the Civil War started? What new laws did the Federal Government enact which threatened the Southern States? What social and economic practices characterized (and divided) the North and the South? Dump all the facts you can think of into your outline page.

July 29, 1938

Typesetting a newspaper in Ireland

Now it’s time to write! Start at the beginning and create a where to buy discounted viagra, lavitra & cialis story which moves from the first point, covering the facts and then moves the second point and then the third. This is where the magic happens. The dry facts should come to life as a rolling, flowing tale. Don’t think about it too much. Just imagine you are telling your Civil War story to a friendly 9 year old child. Make it fun and factual at the same time.

Wait! You’re not done yet. Your essay needs one final cherry on top. A great title.Create the title once you have finished writing the whole story. Now re-read your essay from the beginning and look for the emotional ‘hook’ which would make a reader want to read it. Here are some examples of great ‘hook’ titles from the news:

  • World’s Highest-Paid Athlete Reports To Jail
  • Deadly Kissing Disease Spreads to Schools
  • Piles of Cash Found on Subway
  • For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn
  • Family Receives Son Back from the Dead

Could one of these examples inspire a great title for an your exam essay?  How about “World’s Greatest Nation Rips at the Heart” or “How Could I Shoot My Brother and Son?”.  Look for the human side of your facts and turn it into a catchy title.

Practicing this fast paced writing technique should help you relax during the test.  It might even make your next essay exam … fun.  Reporters learn to love deadlines for the excitement they bring.   You might too.

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