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julia999's avatar

How can I write faster on the Literature exam?

Asked by julia999 (338 points ) September 12th, 2010

My Literature exam is coming up in about a month, and I am very worried about how slowly I write.

Over the years I have prided myself on taking my time to read things, allowing them to absorb, and writing at my own pace – but this is the exact opposite of what the exam wants!

I realise that I need to become familiar with the text, but because I love the texts (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Harwood’s poetry) this is the easy part.

I was hoping you guys could offer me some tips on using my preparation time effectively!

I’ve been practising writing essays all year – I think I’ve written close to 30 by now.

The other day I tried writing my essay under time pressure (1 hour) and it was much too vague and lacked analysis. I tried that again, same story. Then I wrote one in 3 hours, and it was absolutely amazing, such an improvement.

Just some advice to get me going, or even encouragement would be very appreciated in this stressful period of my life!

Thanks in advance!

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6 Answers

janbb's avatar

Spend a few minutes before starting to write brainstorming and coming up with the main idea you want to convey. Formulate a theme and state it clearly, write two or three paragraphs expanding on and supporting the theme, then write a concluding paragraph with a summing up and reiteration of the theme in new wording. Once you have the theme and the format clear in your mind, it should help you to pound out the essay more quickly. Also, if you have said all you need to say, it may not matter if it is a little shorter than what you would usually write. Get one whole “draft” of the essay finished, and then if there is still time, go back and revise and polish it.

sarahsugs's avatar

Perhaps you can settle on the planning tool that is most efficient and effective for you – the one that helps you organize your ideas and analysis in the shortest amount of time so that when you actually start writing the draft it is cohesive and sharp from the get-go and requires little revision. For instance, do you plan your writing using an outline, or do you prefer a “web,” or some other visual organizer? Here is a link with many such organizers – these are designed for younger writers but perhaps will give you inspiration. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/graphicorganizers/ Personally, I find that the best way to write efficiently is to plan effectively.

nebule's avatar

It might be unnecessary but I know that people with dyslexia (I’m not suggesting that’s what you have though!) are allowed extra time for exams here in the UK… is this something you could look into?

Is the slowness a physical issue, as in your actual writing? or are you slow at getting your idea’s together in your head?

wundayatta's avatar

A lot of kids receive “accommodations” in the US, too. My son, in fact, may or may not need extra time for his tests. He took a standardized test last year, and when he ran out of time on the math test, he had only done maybe half of them. Supposedly he has a problem with executive functioning—planning abilities.

I don’t know why they put time limits on tests. What difference does it make how long it takes you to regurgitate stuff, so long as you regurgitate it? I suspect time limits are mostly for the convenience of test givers more than anything else.

YARNLADY's avatar

You do not have to have a diagnosed issue to ask for accommodation. Go ahead and find out what your instructor can do for you.

julia999's avatar

Hi guys!
Thanks for all your advice!
I asked my Literature teacher, and she said things along the same lines as you.
Thanks for the link sarasugs, I’ve developed a planning method that works really well for me. I managed to do over half an essay in an ahour and a half today, so I’m quite happy with the sudden progress.

I’ll keep it :)
Thanks again everyone!

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