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5 Paragraph Essay Sample Elementary Schedule

Have you ever written an essay in 25 minutes? You have if you have ever sat for the SAT. While the stakes may be higher for a last-minute academic essay, the point is this: do not panic! Instead, read this six-step guide to writing an essay in a day:

1. Understand your goals

Whether you are writing a personal statement for a college or graduate school application, or an essay for a high school or college class, your assignment will have specific goals. Before you begin to write, review these goals. Clearly understanding your objective is essential when working with a shortened timeline.

2. Choose a topic

Under normal circumstances, you might devote several days to brainstorming a promising topic, and then you might write a detailed outline before writing and revising your essay over a week or two. When you are on a tight schedule, this is not possible.

So—write down the first three or four ideas that occur to you. If you cannot think of an appropriate topic, ask a parent or a friend to review the assignment with you. Do not spend more than 10 or 15 minutes on this part of your essay, as the execution ultimately matters more than the idea itself.

In addition, do not stress yourself about selecting the “perfect” topic. Without a topic, you will have no essay to turn in, and any essay is better than no essay. (It naturally follows that any topic is also better than no topic at all.)

3. Set deadlines

Establishing deadlines for a one-day essay is key. Budget 5-10 minutes for brainstorming, 15-20 minutes for creating an outline, and several hours for writing. You can also set aside an hour for feedback and review, and another hour for any necessary revisions. You should also allow for an hour-long break to recharge your mind. Finally, plan to submit your essay several hours before the deadline. A schedule with some flexibility will allow you to adapt to any unforeseen complications.

4. Arrange for reviewers in advance

Whenever possible, arrange for reviewers (such as your parents or friends) first thing in the morning, and let them know when they can expect a draft. When your deadline is in several days or weeks, you have the luxury of finding reviewers after you have finished your draft. With a shorter deadline, you will not have this ability. Be clear on the short turnaround time to ensure as smooth a review period as possible.

5. Outline your essay

There are many resources that can advise you on how to write a wonderful essay, but the purpose of this article is to shape that advice to the demands of a very short timeline. This includes resisting the urge to abandon the outline. Having an outline is even more important for a one-day essay than for a week-long project with a similar word count. A strong outline will keep your essay focused and organized from the start—which is critical when time constraints will limit your rewrites.

Your outline should not be detailed, and it should take no more than 15 or 20 minutes to complete. Determine your hook (see below for more information), and then jot down the threads that connect this moment to your central argument or idea.

6. Stay organized

When you are under pressure, your tendency may be to start writing and to see where your essay goes. Try instead to use a brief anecdote or emotional impact statement (i.e. the “hook” in your opening paragraph) to set the stakes for your essay. This is essentially your opportunity to state why your argument or idea is worth your reader’s attention.

Finally, remember that “perfect is the enemy of good.” Manage your expectations. Your goal should be to write a good essay, not a perfect one. If you have a compelling hook and a well-organized flow of ideas, check your writing for errors, and then send it in.

Brian Witte is a professional SAT tutor with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington and holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University

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You've probably already wondered what college will be like. Will it be like home? Will it be like your high school experience? Will you be able to handle it? Will it be fun and exciting? Will it be scary and nerve wracking? Well, hopefully a glimpse at a day in the life of a college student will help sort some things out!

The college schedule is very different than the traditional high school schedule. Typically, there is a lot more flexibility with your college classes. In high school, you were probably told that you had to take US History, which was offered every day at 10:00 am. In college, you’ll probably need to take a history class, but you could have 10 choices, which would be offered on different days, at different times, and for different durations.

The other cool thing about the college schedule is that you usually have more opportunities to explore your interests and passions. For example, you will be picking a major that will determine the types of classes you will specialize in. In high school, you have a set curriculum of classes you have to take across all subject areas. In college, think about your schedule as a pyramid. Your freshman and sophomore year, you’ll take more general education classes (a mixture of everything so you walk away well-rounded) and a few classes in your major. But during your junior and senior year, you’ll take fewer general education classes and more classes in your major.

Related:Find scholarships for your major

Another big difference you should be aware of is the time structure. Right now, you’re probably in school from about 7:30 am–2:30 pm, Monday through Friday. This will not be the case in college, where you usually take four or five classes at different times throughout the week. You might have a science class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:10–11:00 am. Perhaps you’ll have a Spanish class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15–3:00 pm. Then, you might have your Introduction to Education class on Wednesday evenings from 6:30–9:00 pm. Maybe on Mondays you’ll have three classes, and on Tuesdays you’ll have two classes. There will always be some courses that are only offered on certain days at certain times, but for the most part, there are a lot of options to think about! If you’re a morning person, you might want to schedule your classes to be done by noon. If you’re more of a night owl, having that first class start at 1:15 in the afternoon might be the best thing to ever happen to you. And you definitely won’t be in class for seven hours straight!

However, college is like high school in that you will have the opportunity to get involved by joining different clubs, organizations, and maybe even by getting a part-time job. Most schools have hundreds of extracurricular activities, and it is pretty easy to start one as well. So, as you can imagine, your schedule can get crazy with meetings, band practice, sport practice, play rehearsal, work hours, etc.!

Of course, the best way to see what a true day in the life of a college student is like is to actually get the schedules of some college students! Here are two undergraduates and their real-life experiences.

Cy Serrano

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
Major: Business Administration, Junior
Hometown: Lancaster, California

Coolest thing about college in 10 words or less:The opportunity to be yourself and discover your potential!

  • 9:15 am I woke up early this time! Let’s get some breakfast! On second thought...snooze button.
  • 9:45 am Finally up and ready for 10:00 am class. Don’t need to worry about being late with my trusty Beach Cruiser.
  • 10:00–11:50 am Entrepreneurship class, listening to fellow classmates give their business elevator pitches. Awesome!
  • 12:00–1:50 pm Break for lunch at Commons and head back to the dorm to watch that episode of The Walking Dead I missed last night.
  • 2:00–4:50 pm Ugh, three-hour class; it’s a design class though, so I get to use my laptop.
  • 5:00–7:00 pm Hang out at the dorm and get dinner with my residents. It’s a lot of fun being a resident advisor!
  • 8:00–10:00 pm Rehearsal with my a cappella group. I’m president this year, so I need to make sure I’m there on time!
  • 10:15 pm–1:00 am Homework, reading, and dorm hall shenanigans. Did someone say Halo 5? Sweet...

Michelle Hattan

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Junior
Hometown: Joliet, Illinois

Coolest thing about college in 10 words or less:Midnight ice cream runs, random adventures, and great education!

  • 7:10 am First alarm goes off. Prepare to ignore it for the next 20–30 minutes.
  • 7:20–7:50 am Slowly convince myself to get up after pushing the snooze button for too long.
  • 8:40–9:00 am Make the long walk to class on the opposite side of campus.
  • 9:00–10:00 am Intro to Fiction, my only non-technical class; I love having a legitimate excuse to read good books!
  • 10:00 am–12:00 pm Head to my professor’s office hours. I would not be able to complete this homework without help!
  • 12:00–1:00 pm Dynamics lecture (a crazy mechanical engineering class), where I eat my lunch of stale chips and PB&J, trying not to crunch too loudly. Normally, I get angry looks from the professor.
  • 1:00–2:00 pm Modeling Human Physiology, an interesting class; I just wish there were fewer equations!
  • 3:00–6:00 pm Research! I analyze musculoskeletal motion data to better understand the balance and gait of people.
  • 6:00–7:00 pm Dinner with my friends at whichever campus restaurant has the best deal.
  • 7:00–8:00 pm Go to Engineering Council meeting.
  • 8:00 pm–12:00 am Work on homework at the library!

"The college schedule can seem crazy at times. Doing homework until midnight is not exceptionally glamorous or easy, but I love what I do and all that I learn. The best and worst part of college is the flexibility it offers. You are able to choose everything: your classes, extracurricular activities, friends, etc. A great deal of responsibility and time management is needed, but with a bit of planning and coffee you can be very successful. Surviving college takes hard work! However, at the end of all this, you will have your degree, and no one can take that away from you. How cool is that?” — Michelle Hattan 

Related: (Another) Day in the Life of a College Student

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