For any essay with a given time and word limit, the preparation stage I believe is truly like writing a shopping list before you get to the Supermarket, which saves you time, money and a lot of nerves.  If you have always had essays assigned for homework without any word limits and with plenty of time to complete them, this doesn’t necessarily apply to you.  You have days to work on it, rewrite it, ask for feedback and proofread it.  But in an exam situation, when you are under the pressure of time and word limits, I’m afraid you don’t have this luxury. So how can you adapt to such conditions?

Let us go back to the comparison to grocery shopping. Certainly, if you had just 15 minutes to shop and only CHF 150.00 to buy all that you need to feed a family of four in a week, you just might think of sitting down to write a grocery list first before heading out the door.  You would ask yourself, so what meals can I cook that are healthy but inexpensive enough to cover all our needs? If you wrote a few meals down first and chose those which require items that fit within your budget, you would have much better chances of making your money stretch and avoid purchasing items that really may not serve your purpose.  You keep to the list and pass the ice cream and chocolate rows without any problems.  You’re on a mission!

Think of preparing your essay in the same way. Concentrate on the essay question.  Write the ideas that come to mind. Choose what is most effective and eliminate the extras before you even begin.

Putting this in specific terms, if you have only 250 words to explain two sides of an argument, be sure you think of 2 solid arguments for both with convincing examples. The hardest part of the job done.  What’s left? A carefully written introduction and conclusion that includes references to your ideas is all that’s left.  Stay tuned for a future blog entry for this!  My mission for this blog entry is now complete.

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