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Essay writing is enough of a struggle when there isn’t any time pressure.Add in a 40 minute limit and that’s pretty much breaking point for a lot of us 🙃 .
If you kind of messed up the timing of the whole exam and you don’t have your full 40 minutes then pick up the pace and if you can’t do that, time to make some quick decisions about what to cut. Even though you’ve definitely memorised these perfectly by the HSC (lol), it’s worth having a strategy for making sure you put all your evidence in.
My personal tactic was, before starting to write the essay, to scribble that evidence (or just a keyword to jog my memory) down at the top of my planning paper or scribble it under the plan I wrote.
Having a mind blank during an exam is not a good feeling because the clock is literally ticking and there isn’t a way you can magically force yourself to remember a quote or come up with an idea.
It will feel pretty stressful but your best bet here is actually to pause and think instead of continuing to waffle on.
Addressing the keyword and source material really well will show your marker than you are actually answering the exam question, not just chucking out a pre-prepared response.
The overall best tip for writing essays in exams is to remind yourself what your markers are looking for.
When it comes to writing the essay, the structure you planned out will let you know if you’re on track or not.
40 minutes to write an essay and you have an intro, conclusion and four body paragraphs? Well then it’s pretty clear that you should get your intro and the first two paragraphs done in 20 minutes. It might be quotes, it might be dates, it might be stats.
If the exam is something like English Paper 1, you know that a third of the (two hour long) exam is an essay so you should be starting that essay with at least 40mins to go.
Hot tip: a lot of top students try to move through the first two sections of that exam fairly quickly so they have more time for a banging essay 💯.