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 PEL office, you may choose from among these six essay 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. Please note that you may also do a timed writing in the Writing Center, Seibert (SE) 103, on the main campus. You will want to check their hours.

You will have 75 minutes to complete your timed writing.

We will provide a bluebook, and you must write in ink. You may also write your exam on a computer.

To prepare for your Timed Writing, 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Mastery of grammar, proper punctuation, and correct spelling make a good impression.
  6. When concluding, restate your central idea, but don’t simply list points you just made. Comment more broadly on the significance of your conclusions.
  7. 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.
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