The 7 Steps for Writing a Last Minute Essay

Procrastinate, v: What you are doing right now… so, get back to work!

In university, it sometimes seems almost impossible to avoid writing last minute essays or cramming for exams in one day or less. Here are some tips to make essay writing a little easier:


1. Setting

Choose a well-lit, quiet, and clean environment where you are the least likely to be distracted. This could be a library, a study room at SFU Surrey, the sixth floor of the AQ, or even Starbucks. Netflix can be your best friend and your worst enemy. That being said, I find I am less likely to indulge in my guilty pleasure when others can see over my shoulder.


2. Thesis

Obviously you need a thesis/main concept/main idea. The more interested you are in something, the easier it should be to write about it. Narrow down your topic and stick to it. As hard as it may be, do not give up. However, try not to force it, if you are hitting dead ends. The thesis is the most important part of your essay, so make it a good one. You can always run your thesis by your TA or Prof to see how they respond to it before you write your paper.


3. Content

Choose the texts, books, or articles that will help the most. The key here is using online sources that you find using keywords. These will narrow down your options and direct your attention to the most relevant material. Read the text carefully, as this will support your thesis. Your sources need to be strong and effective in order to develop your argument. Just a tip: choosing shorter sources never hurts, especially when you’re crunched for time.


4. Incentive

Choose your vice: Chocolate, booze, retail therapy, Netflix, etc. For every three hundred words or every paragraph or every page or whatever mark, reward yourself when you reach it. You are supposed to take a five-minute break every half an hour anyway…


5. Citation

Do your absolute best to do your citations as you write your essay. This will save you from going back and forth between your essay and the texts. Also, when you finish your essay, citations will be the last thing you want to deal with. They are also the easiest place to make mistakes when in a rush, and these mistakes are easily caught and could cost you part of your grade.


6. Self-Deception

Set an earlier date for yourself. If it is due at 12pm, then aim to finish by 10am. And ALWAYS proofread! I don’t care if its 11:50 am and you still need to print. Confusing ‘their’ with ‘there’ is simply unacceptable.


7. Celebrate

The most important thing is rewarding yourself for finishing. Be your own cheerleader and pamper yourself with everything that is bad for you until the next essay.