The Timed Writing
Timed writings measure your raw writing ability and your skill at thinking under pressure. They also reflect your ability to recall, synthesize, and analyze detailed material. If you choose to take the Timed Writing Exam in the Writing Center, you may choose from among these four prompts. You also have the option of preparing beforehand a detailed outline and a few notes—whatever you can fit onto both sides of a 3”-by-5” index card. Of course, you are not allowed to have written out the exam in advance. You may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and handbook.
You will have 75 minutes to complete your exam. Be careful to note the Writing Center’s posted hours to ensure you have time enough to complete the exam before the center closes, and plan accordingly.
We will provide a bluebook, and you must write in ink. You may also write your exam on one of our computers, but understand then that a consultant will have to check over your shoulder to ensure that nothing other than Microsoft Word is ever opened on your screen. Note: During the week (Sunday – Thursday) before Writing Portfolios are due, you must use a blue book for your timed writing exam – so if you prefer to use the computer, plan ahead and take your timed writing earlier in the semester.
To prepare for your Timed Writing Exam, read the instructions below several times and highlight the lines that you want to remember. You may bring this sheet with you to your exam.
- Use an effective opening, restating the question so that your reader knows which one you’ll answer. Restating the question also proves to your reader that you have understood it.
- Get right to the point. Use your first paragraph to provide an overview of your essay, which you can do because you have (probably) made an outline. Use the rest of your essay to discuss these points in more detail.
- Back up your points with specific information, examples, or quotations from your readings and notes; in other words, use detail. Be precise and show important details that demonstrate your knowledge.
- Omit extraneous material—readers can quickly spot answers that have been padded with irrelevancies. Write a good, concise answer rather than a long, ineffective one. Emphasize your original insights.
- Mastery of grammar, proper punctuation, and correct spelling make a good impression.
- When concluding, restate your central idea, but don’t simply list points you just made. Comment more broadly on the significance of your conclusions.
- Proofread your essay for errors such as misspellings, incomplete words and sentences, and incorrect punctuation. Always allow a few minutes at the end of your session for this final step.
Students with documented academic accommodations through the DSS office are subject to the following guidelines regarding timed writings, the same as for all students: the Writing Center allows students to complete timed writing on the computer until one week before Writing Portfolios are due; however, during the week (Sunday – Thursday) Writing Portfolios are due, students may use only a blue book, copies of which are provided in the center. No accommodations provide for extending the Writing Portfolio deadline.
Students may contact the DSS office with at least three business days notice if they prefer to complete the timed essay in a less distracting environment and/or on a computer. The DSS office will accommodate students as space is available. Students who have been granted through the DSS office extended time for the timed writing exam may apply this accommodation in the Writing Center, provided they have a photo ID and appropriate documentation from the DSS office. Please take note of the Writing Center’s posted hours, and plan accordingly.