Learning by heart: memorising requirements, methods & tips

Written by Kerstin Lakits, May 26, 2022

The next exam period is coming up and the pile of exam-relevant documents makes you want to cry. Don’t worry, we will show you how you can quickly and easily memorise and retain your study material. We have different memorisation techniques for each learning style and the best tips to ensure that you retain all the information!

Perfect conditions

  • Location : You need to create the perfect study environment according to your own preferences. In the library, at university or rather in your own ( STUWO ) apartment? Just try which location works for you, so that you can study with concentration and without interruptions.
  • Movement : Not only your brain but also your body needs training. Therefore, you should balance out intense study sessions with a little bit of movement, ideally outside. Here are the best at-home exercises !
  • Healthy diet : Did you know that you can improve your brain’s performance with the right diet? So-called “ brain foods ” increase your concentration and retention power.
  • Distractions : Every distraction pulls your brain out of working mode, which is not ideal for memorising. So, turn off all distracting devices and notifications and remove everything that might be distracting form your study environment.

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  • Method of Loci/Mind Palace : Thanks to its easy application, this method is very popular. Just imagine a real or fictional place that you know very well. For example, your room in your student accommodation or your way to university. Then you connect a piece of information with an “object” and place it somewhere in your mind palace. When you walk through this mental place, you will remember the connected information.
  • Flash cards : These are a classic and perfect for learning vocabulary. On one side you write a question or word and the answer on the other side. Then you repeatedly go through your flash cards until you know all the words or can answer all the questions.
  • Alphabet method : With this method you take the first letters of key words and create an acronym. An acronym is a word comprised of the first letters of other words. This works as a kick-start for your memory and prevents you from forgetting an element. This works really well with enumerations.
  • Mnemonic trick : Everybody knows some mnemonic tricks. A short sentence, ideally containing a rhyme, serves as memory support for your brain. Let your creative spirit run free!
Elisabeth from STUWO Krems: When I need to learn facts or equations by heart, I make up a funny stories. This way I can memorise the information much better. For example, I made up the following story for the percentage formula: My p enguin (p) is v ery (v) o ld (o), he’s a hundred times older than I am. percentage = value divided by original value times 100. This way I’ll never forget it.

10 tips: How to memorise more and quicker

  • 1. Summarise : By summarising your study material you get a good overview and structure your documents. At the same time, your brain will retain the written information.
  • 2. Structured material : If you have no clue what’s going on in your notes, then you won’t retain anything. Therefore, you should definitely put your documents into a structured and logical order.
  • 3. Set priorities : Not everything in your notes is also relevant for your exam. Go through your notes and identify the most important passages. You can get some guidance on what’s important from past exams and obligatory literature.
  • 4. All senses : Research has shown that the brain can retain information better and quicker when more than one sense is involved. Therefore, you shouldn’t only read your notes. Read them aloud, listen to a recording on that topic and write down the most important parts.
  • 5. Repetition : The more repetitions, the more information your brain can retain. We recommend using the so-called “dead” time for going through your notes again. For example, while waiting for the tram, doing the laundry or sitting in your doctor’s waiting room.

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  • 6. Learning styles : Are you a visual, auditory or experiential learner? Do you study better in the morning or in the evening? Your personal learning style is important for your ideal study schedule.
  • 7. Visualisations : Especially with abstract topics, it can be hard to create a mental map of information and connections. Therefore, visualisations of the information are helpful for your brain. Create some posters, charts, mind maps, illustrations, etc.
  • 8. Explain it to someone : Try to explain your study material to a third person, for example your STUWO flatmate. This helps you with memorising information and understanding connections.
  • 9. Apps for learning : There are countless apps that support you during your studies: digital flash cards (e.g. Quizlet ), platforms with numerous notes, scripts and example questions (e.g. StudySmarter ) and classic vocabulary trainers (e.g. pons ).
  • 10. Study before going to bed : Research suggests that our long-term memory develops primarily during sleep. Use this fact to your advantage and go through important passages right before going to bed.

How much can you learn by heart in a day?

This depends on many factors. As a rule of thumb: max. 6 hours of studying per day . How much you can memorise in these hours, depends on the right technique and ideal conditions. Maybe our articles on effective studying , helpful study breaks and pomodoro technique can help you with that!

How can you memorise extremely quickly?

In addition to the above-mentioned methods and tips, you can try to improve your speed-reading , create a study timetable, start studying during the semester and work with a to-do-list.

How often do I have to read something until I’ve memorised it?

There is no general answer to this question. An estimation is that you need to repeat your study material six times before the brain can successfully store the information in the long-term memory. So, take enough time to study.

Find out which method works best for you and try to apply the tips. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn by heart and memorise! Your retention power is strong!

We wish you the best of luck!

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How to Memorise an Entire Essay or Speech

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How to memorise a complete essay or speech

Christmas and New year is over and for some there looms the prospect of mid  term exams. A lot of these exams will be closed book exams. A closed  book exam tests your knowledge and memory of a subject. One of the ways  in which some students prepare is to actively learn the subject areas and also  look at past questions and anticipate a question which might come up. At  the moment my wife is studying for exams in which she is actively learning  her subjects and also she has written 3 x 500 word essays on the three areas  of study.

Together we have come up with a system which means that she can memorise a  500 word essay in 1 day and 3 x 500 word essays in 3 days. Together with  actively learning the subject she is confident that she has prepared well.

In this article I will show you the system we came up with to memorise 1500 words verbatim. Sound hard? It is actually quite easy and is a system I used when at university studying for my psychology degree for 2 x 1000 word essays.

This method can also be used for memorising any kind of written work or speech.


Before you begin

Before you begin this it is important to actually believe that you can memorise  a complete essay or speech whether it be 500 words or 2000 words. When  I first suggested using this method to my wife she said that she would never  be able to memorise an essay word for word.

Once she got over this and started telling herself that she could do it we started.

Active learning

First off, this method of memorising an essay should not be substituted for  actively learning a subject. Active learning is when you read, not skim,  the subject area and take note of the key points. Cross reading is also  very good for active learning. This is when you read books on the subjects  by different authors. Some authors are not good at getting information across  so cross reading is an excellent way learning.

The method for memorising an essay or speech.

You will need to write out the essay or speech first. Treat this part  of the process as if you were writing an essay to hand in for marking by your  lecturer. In other words make sure it is worthy of memorising.

When you have written the essay make sure it is grammatically correct as you will be memorising every comma and full stop.

When you are sure you have a good essay or speech print it off and mark down  the left margin the number of paragraphs e.g. if you have 6 paragraphs write  at the side of each paragraph the numbers 1 "“ 6. In the right hand  margin write the number of sentences in each paragraph. This is the first  part of the memorisation process.

A quiet place to study

Now, make sure you have quiet space to be able to read, walk and vocalise  your essay. When you are sure you will not be interrupted you can start.

With your printed essay start walking and reading out loud the essay or speech. When  you have read it out loud a few times go back to the first sentence and read  it out loud. Then read it again and again until you have memorised it. When  you are confident you have memorised it word for word go on to the next sentence. When  you have memorised the second sentence, whilst walking vocalise the first two  sentences without looking at your printed essay. If you are okay  with this go on to do the same with your 3rd sentence and so on until you have  memorised your first full paragraph. This can take anywhere between 15 "“ 45  depending on motivation, alertness, quietness etc.

The reason I ask you to walk is to keep your blood flowing whilst memorising. If  you are sitting down you might nod off, by walking it will prevent you from  nodding off. I find walking up and down an excellent way to concentrate  on reading.

Keep reading, and vocalising your essay or speech until you have memorised  it completely. When you are confident of having memorised it. Vocalise  it without looking at your printed sheet. If you get it right, do it  again, and if you get it right a second time reward yourself with a cup of  tea or coffee or whatever is your want and leave it for a few hours.

When a few hours have passed go back to the essay, read it out loud whilst  walking and looking at the printed sheet and then try to memorise it again.

Once you are confident that you have memorised it completely, at the bottom  of the page write down the first few words of each sentence of your essay,  separated by a comma, and number each line for each paragraph. When you  have done that put in the number of sentences at the end of the list and bracket  it.

For example if I was writing out the first few words of this article for the  first 3 paragraphs it would look like this;

  • Christmas and New year, A lot of, A closed book, One of the, At the moment (5)
  • Together we have, Together with actively (2)
  • In this article, sound hard? (2)

Now what you should do is only look at the list at the bottom of the paper  and read out from that whilst walking. This way you are only looking  at the first few words and finishing the sentence without looking at it. If  you get stuck just go back to the main essay and look at it, until you have  got it completely.

Now memorise the bottom of the sheet of paper with the first few words of  the essay and how many sentences are in each paragraph. This should only  take 10-15 minutes at the most.

This sounds a very convoluted way of memorising an essay but it is a lot easier  than it reads here.

Time taken to memorise

You should be able to memorise a full 500 word essay in about  3 hours, for your first time, using the above method. When you are practiced  you should be able to memorise a 500 word essay in about 60 "“ 90 minutes.

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Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

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  • How to Memorize an Essay: The Proven Way to Improve Your Knowledge
  • How to Memorize an Essay and Improve Your Overall Knowledge?

How to Memorize an Essay and Improve Your Overall Knowledge?

Great ways to memorize each word of an essay

How to turn the memorization process into real fun, simple tips on how to learn a substantial essay preparing for an exam, improve your subject knowledge by making notes and doing exercises, what is a mind map, and how to use it for essay learning.

Memory is a valuable tool people use to accumulate knowledge and use it afterward. Memorizing essay unlike a classification essay, is not as difficult as it may seem at first. The main thing is to find a suitable method of memorization and to organize the work in the right way. Want to memorize an essay quickly and effectively to ace tests in a particular area of knowledge? Here are the proven methods of storing information in your memory so that you can use it whenever you need it. Check the helpful tips and tricks to memorize the whole story word by word. Are you stuck in writing your essays and want to pay someone to do my homework ? Entrust your tasks to our professional academic assistance service and get your assignments done by experts!

Everyone will benefit from the ability to keep in mind the critical details of a future presentation or speech. To learn the material quickly, you need to eliminate all external stimuli and create a working environment. For active memorization , it is better to use several channels of perception and to adhere to this algorithm:

  • Read the entire text several times, understand its meaning.
  • Use associations (memorize a picture drawn by the imagination while reading).
  • Divide it into logical parts and make an outline.
  • Write reference words or quotes to the essential points.
  • Retell each part separately, then put all the pieces together.

If you need to learn the story by heart or memorize an essay , you're recommended to do the following:

  • If possible, listen to the audio version based on the printed text.
  • Rewrite each paragraph of the essay several times.
  • Cover the end of sentences and enter the missing words from memory. Reproduce the text actively either orally or in writing. 

Pictograms are a way to replace words and sentences with pictures. It is not necessary to be an artist — the more straightforward and funnier the photos, the better.  Visualization is the most effective way to recollect the knowledge in any area. It is also a great tip on how to focus on school work .

Haven’t you memorized it yet? Make the process as fun as possible using game techniques to remember:

  • Replace part of words with pictures and recreate the full text. Gradually paint overall new words and draw pictures in their place, each time retelling part by part.
  • Make a copy of the text and cut into small pieces. Gather it as a puzzle, simultaneously reading the resulting sentences — the brighter and funnier the font, the better. 

Need to memorize a considerable essay? Just follow the step-by-step guidelines below:

  • Divide it into parts and work with each of them separately.
  • Make a plan or enter the primary data in the table.
  • Repeat the essay regularly, making short breaks.
  • Use multiple channels of perception (for example, visual and auditory ).

Keep in mind that the details are stored in memory automatically if you're interested in the subject. Writing in a clear language is amenable to memorize. Make sure it sounds easy for perception. If not, do your best to make it as simple as possible and clear up all the incomprehensible points.

This method of gaining new knowledge is especially suitable for visuals (those who better perceive information through sight), but anyone can use and increase his/her chances to succeed. The result will be noticeable in any case. Check the ways to memorize an essay:

  • Divide the text into several parts. Work with each area of knowledge separately. 
  • Read the first part, look up unfamiliar terms and phrases.
  • Rewrite some parts 1-2 times.
  • Fill in the individual phrases with the office corrector. Add them from memory. 
  • Check yourself. Rewrite the essay again. 
  • Paint over twice as many fragments as you remember. Fill in the blanks. 
  • Repeat until you can fully reproduce the paragraph.
  •  Put all the pieces together and retell the story. 

If there is very little time to learn a particular area, and you need to memorize everything quickly and finish homework faster , consider the technique of constant repetitions.

  • Write paragraphs on small sheets of paper. It is better to choose bright markers to highlight key ideas in a specific area of knowledge.
  • Hang them around the house: above the kitchen table, in the bathroom, on the mirror in the hallway, on the balcony. 

Visiting these places, or merely passing by, you’ll understand that the eye “catches” the sentence, and knowledge is stored in memory successfully. This method will give a good result and speed up the memorization process.

It is essential to understand the meaning of the essay and understand what you are going to talk. That’s why you should convey everything in your own words.

  • Read the text aloud thoughtfully. Write out unfamiliar terms to improve your knowledge on the subject. 
  • Break the material into logical parts (intro, key thoughts, and facts, ending). 
  • Make a detailed plan for each part. Describe it in the form of short abstracts, quotes, or questions. 
  • Retell a few times, looking at the original if necessary. 
  • Retell the text without looking at the original, and then without using the plan.
  • Strong points in the form of quotations can be distinguished directly in an original way. Highlight them with a pencil.

It is a thought map that allows you to structure the information in any area of knowledge without any difficulties. You're free to depict a map as you wish and retell the story using a map. This technique will be helpful to those who need to learn but not necessarily reproduce it word by word quickly. 

  • Highlight the critical issues in a particular area of knowledge. Write or draw it, circle it.
  • Portray secondary thoughts in the form of branches in any direction. Someone draws to the right and left, someone from top to bottom. There are no restrictions.
  • Get a detailed plan in a convenient format, based on which it will be easy to retell all in your own words.

Those who like to draw can replace sentences with pictures. It will make the process of gaining knowledge more exciting and even help you learn the information better, being confident in your understanding.

Whatever way to study the area of knowledge you choose, it is vital to memorize material consciously. Learning a text by heart is not the goal itself, but just a stage to achieve it. The main thing is to start using the acquired knowledge in speech and writing. To reproduce the gained knowledge, you need to have a clear picture of the article purpose and critical points. Remember: if you lack either time or motivation to prepare for an exam, turn to professionals who know how to boost your knowledge effectively. 

Writing is a skill you will need throughout your academic and business life. Well, unless you will work as a free laborer or engineer, you will have to fill out various forms and prepare documents. In any case, every citizen should be literate. It is the image of the country. That is why high school...

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5 steps to memorize a speech in less than an hour

• Memorizing a speech is sometimes easier said than done.

• Two-time national memory champion Ron White has some tips on how to memorize a whole speech.

• From outlining the talk to creating a mind palace, here are a few tips on how to become a confident public speaker in no time.

Speaking in front of a crowd can be scary. In fact, research has found that glossophobia — the fear of public speaking — is the most common phobia among Americans, ahead of thanatophobia — the fear of death.

As Jerry Seinfeld points out in his standup routine , this means the average person going to a funeral "would rather be in the casket than give the eulogy."

But public speaking doesn't have to be so scary.

Ron White, a two-time national memory champion , said in a video that when you know your speech by heart and don't have to rely on note cards or reading a slideshow, "your confidence will skyrocket."

"This also allows you to maintain eye contact, being a more dynamic and powerful speaker," he explained. "You will appear more knowledgeable to your audience as well."

White says he learned this simple five-step process for memorizing and giving speeches about 25 years ago, and he still uses it today:

1. Write the outline for your speech

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

Never write out a speech word for word, or try to memorize it word for word, White said. "It will sound corny or canned. You want a speech that sounds natural and flows." Also, he says, when you only memorize the bullet points, this allows you the freedom to say something spontaneous that may turn out to be a great new addition to your speech. "I typically just write out short phrases or a single word to remind me of what I want to talk about," he explained. For example, if he wants to give a speech on increasing profits, he might write out the 10 main ideas like:

• Increasing profit • Time management • Communication • Continuing education and growth • Goals • Rewards for hitting goals • Working smarter not harder • Efficiency • Organized • Teamwork

"Because it is my speech, these bullet points are all I would need to know to keep my thoughts on a stream," he said.

White explained that this step is no additional work. "If you were going to give a speech with notes you would do this anyway, because these would be what you'd write on your note cards. So the first step is to prepare as if you aren't going to use a memory system."

2. Create mental images for each bullet point

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

Next you'll want to create mental images for each of bullet points "because the mind remembers pictures easier than words," said White.

He shared the mental images he'd use for his example bullet points:

• Increasing profit: dollar bills • Time management: a clock • Communication: a phone • Continuing education and growth: a plant growing (for growth) • Goals: a field goal • Rewards for hitting goals: a "Wanted" poster with a reward  • Working smarter not harder: a brain • Efficiency: an energy-efficient apartment • Organized: a organizer/planner • Team work: a sports team

3. Create a 'mind palace'

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

In order to memorize anything, you need a place to store the data. "The best technique for this is the Mind Palace," White explained. This technique has been around for at least 2,500 years and is written about in the "Sherlock Holmes" books and utilized by Shakespeare in the Globe Theatre.

"It's where you visualize what you want to recall on furniture in your home," he explained.

White says it will take you about 20 minutes upfront to build a Mind Palace — meaning, to select pieces of furniture in your home or office. "But once you do that, you can use this Mind Palace for the rest of your life for so many other things," he explained.

To assign numbers to the furniture, you'll want to stand in the doorway of a room, start on your left, and move around the room clockwise numbering five large items.

In the first room, you'll number the furniture items 1-5; in the second room, number them 6-10; and so on.

4. Visualize

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

Now you want to assign the images you associated with each bullet point to these items — but as you do this, you want to think of a smells, tastes, sounds, or feelings associated with each image for each piece of furniture.

"The more action and emotion, the better," said White.

For instance, if furniture item No. 1 is your couch, imagine the cushions are green and stuffed with money, and that they make the sound of paper being crumbled when you sit on them.

Do this for each bullet point and item, one through 10.

"This is how you memorize," said White. "You really want to see the images on the furniture. The more vivid you can make the images — by actually hearing the sounds of the water, tasting the food, feeling the heat of a fire, etc. — the better you will remember it."

Then, he says, when you give your speech and you are standing in front of the room with no notes in your hands, you'll be able to think back to your house and start mentally walking through your home.

You'll see the couch stuffed with money and say, "Today I want to talk to you about increasing our profits."

5. Review and practice

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

Review these items and images over and over in your mind until you know them, said White.

Give the speech at least once from memory to make sure the images work for you and they are enough, he suggested.

"Once you have this technique mastered you could give a speech that lasts for hours without notes," he said. "You can still use a Power Point as a visual aid, but it will no longer be a crutch for you."

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

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How to Write an Essay Quickly: 7 Speedy Steps to Success

Do you think you could write a 2000 word essay in 2 hours? How about a 20 page paper overnight? What if it’s getting into the small hours of the last night before due date and you’re starting with … 3 hastily written paragraphs? A title? A blank page? There’s hope. Let’s take a close look at how to write an essay quickly with 7 easy steps.

I’m going to save the lecture about how you should not have gotten yourself into this situation for another day. Right now, there’s more pressing matters. The essay itself.

It’s time to get started. There’s no time to waste.

Below, I have outlined 7 straightforward steps on how to write an essay quickly. Be warned: this list is full of shortcuts and emergency measures. It’s not the best way to do things, but it’s the best way to do it in your situation.

So here goes. Buckle in and get going on these 7 speedy steps to getting that paper written. I hope you’ve poured yourself a coffee:

1. Hack your teacher’s lecture slides

If I had 2 hours to write a 2000-word essay, this is exactly where I’d start – every time.

The lecture slides are your cheat sheet. They’re a summary of your teacher’s (yes – the one who will be marking your piece) thoughts on the issues. It’s literally a teacher’s translation of the content. They’ve read it, taught it to themselves, then put together slides translating the content into a way that they – your marker – thinks is relevant .

That’s the closest to a cheat sheet you’ll ever get off these people. So use it to write your essay quickly.

Go onto your course’s webpage (Canvas? Blackboard? Moodle?) and download the lecture slides for every week that seems slightly relevant. You know? The weeks where:

  • Your teacher introduced the key theorist, scientist or scholar behind an idea;
  • Your teacher explained the ideas you need to write about;
  • Your teacher analysed different perspectives on that ideas.

It might be one week’s slides, it might be ten week’s slides. But you need to download them and start reviewing them.

Each time you find a point that you think is relevant to your assessment outline or question, quickly make a note of what key point is being made.

Also write down any ideas that come to mind that might fit into the essay. I find when I review lecture slides more ideas come to mind to add in.

If your lecture hasn’t provided lecture slides, some other places to look for ideas on what to write in your paper include:

  • Your own lecture notes ;
  • Readings your teacher set for you;
  • Any online videos, websites or other content your teacher provided.

2. Write down ten to fifteen key points to discuss

Hopefully your research in step 1 got you a lot of key points written down so you’re off to a hasty start to writing your essay quickly.

Now’s your time to brainstorm – are there any other interesting points you can make about the topic that come to mind after reviewing the course materials?

Aim to gather between ten and fifteen key points. Anywhere less than 10, you’re not likely to have enough to say unless you’ve got a paper that’s less than 2000 words. Anywhere over 15, your teacher’s mind is going to wander while they go through all your ideas!

These points can be scrawled all over a piece of paper or listed on a word document, but make sure they’re written down!

Once you’ve got 10 to 15 key points, it’s time to list them in order of relevance. What’s the most relevant or useful or informative thing you want to say? Put that first. Then go down the list, so your best ideas are at the top.

3. Turn each point into a 4 to 6 sentence paragraph

Starting from the top of your list of 10 to 15 points to discuss, start turning each point into a 4 to 6 sentence paragraph. This is the ideal paragraph length to obtain depth without losing your reader’s attention.

In each paragraph make sure you mention:

  • A topic sentence that explains exactly what your key point is.
  • An explanation sentence (or two) that adds detail to your first point.
  • An example sentence showing how the idea or point would link to the real-life.

You can keep expanding on that key idea if you want – but limit it to about 6 sentences max. Otherwise you’ll put your marker to sleep – who ever wants to read a super long paragraph!?

Make sure each key point is given one 4 – 6 sentence paragraph at least. You might find each key point needs two or three paragraphs to explain everything in enough detail.

4. Use readings while writing your paragraphs.

When providing explanations of your key points, go back to where you found these key points. What is the source? Did your teacher note on the lecture slides where this information comes from? If so, you’ll need to reference those sources in your paragraphs.

Then, add in more references from:

  • The Assigned Readings. Start referencing the set readings that your teacher provided. Go to the course’s webpage and download all the set readings for weeks relevant to your assessment topic. If you download your assigned readings and open them with Adobe Acrobat, you’ll be able to use the search function to find the exact key ideas you’re looking for. For example, if your topic is on “Issues of doctor-patient confidentiality in modern medicine”, you might search through your set readings for “confidentiality” in order to find the right sections of your readings where you could find explanations that you can use and reference in the piece. Aim to cite each relevant reading that was provided by your teacher at least once in the piece.
  • Google Scholar. You’ll also need to cite some other scholarly readings . I recommend going to google scholar and type in the keywords from your key idea. For example, if your key idea is “Climate change causes sea temperatures to rise”, you would want to type into the google scholar search bar: “Climate change” and “sea temperatures”. Find sources that have direct links to the pdf or html document of the text – these are sources that aren’t hidden behind paywalls. Make sure you get a good number of additional readings from google scholar (I usually aim for 50% assigned readings, 50% additional readings).

You might also want to make sure you have least one – preferably two –references per paragraph. If you have included two references, aim to reference two different sources rather than the one source twice.

5. Write a compelling Introduction and Conclusion

Keep an eye on that word count.

Hopefully for each paragraph you write you see that wordcount jumping by about 150 to 200 words. Before long you’ll be at 500, 800, 1400 words!

Make sure you stop writing when you get within 300 words of the word limit (about one page if you’ve been given a page limit). You’re going to want to use the last 300 words or so for creating an amazing introduction and conclusion.

If you hit the desired word count but don’t get around to some key points, that’s okay. We sorted the points from most to least relevant in Step 2 for just this reason: the ones you miss will be the least relevant, anyway.

Now, write your introduction.

A compelling introduction should:

  • Identify the key focus or argument of the essay in the first sentence
  • Explain the topic’s relevance. Why is it worth discussing at this particular time? What value does it have for your future profession?
  • Let your reader know what you plan on saying in the piece.

Then write your conclusion .

A compelling conclusion should:

  • Summarize your key points
  • Explain how your key points support your argument and/or address the essay question
  • Identify any contradictions , limitations or questions that remain unanswered within the topic area. What is the future direction of research into this topic in the next 5, 10 or 20 years?

Use the above bullet points to formulate your introduction and conclusion . Again, aim for 4 to 6 sentences (150 words or so) for the introduction and about 4 to 6 sentences for the conclusion. Make sure in the introduction and conclusion that you show your reader you have a good bird’s eye understanding of the topic you are covering and its relevance to real life.

6. Fix up that Reference List

Your reference list is probably a mess. It’s not likely to be in the correct referencing format that you need it to be in.

Thanks to Google Scholar, this part is a heck of a lot easier than it was ten years ago.

Here’s what you do:

  • Type the name of each source that you reference into the Google Scholar search bar
  • Find the source in the list that Google Scholar generates (it should be in the first few spots on the list.
  • Press the cite button underneath the source. A pop-up should appear showing how to cite the source in each referencing style.
  • Copy the citation and paste it into your paper’s reference list
  • Check to see if the citation is correct: are there any missing details?

Once you’ve listed all the sources you used in your reference list, you’ll need to sort them alphabetically. Highlight the whole reference list then sort it using:

  • Microsoft Word: The A>Z button under the ‘home’ menu

7. Edit it in the Morning

Once you’ve written a full draft, you’ve got a decision to make:

  • If the piece is due in the next few hours, you’ve got to crack on and start editing immediately;
  • If the piece is due tomorrow morning, give yourself permission to go to sleep. Having a break between writing and editing lets you look at your work with fresh eyes tomorrow. But, be prepared. In the morning you’ve still got some work to do.

Editing your work – even just once the morning before you submit – will earn you a big bump in your marks.

You probably will only have time to edit the work once, so I recommend this:

  • Print the work. Editing work on paper is far more effective than editing it on the screen. Errors jump out at you more if you’re reading it on paper.
  • Read through the work and cross out sentences that don’t make sense. Underline sentences that need rewording for clarity. Circle words that need to be changed or spell-checked.
  • The name of the game while editing is increasing clarity. If a sentence is too long, complicated or confusing when you’re editing it, you need to find a way to say it more clearly. Sometimes that means turning one sentence into two shorter sentences. That’s okay. A good way to find sentences that need shortening is to use the ProWritingAid app which produces a special report identifying sentences that are too long.
  • Once you’ve done scrawling your edits on the paper copy, jump onto the computer and go from the start: insert all the edits you wrote down on the paper copy into the computer copy.

This print-and-edit strategy is by far the most effective editing strategy. It dramatically increases the quality of any student’s work and bumps up their grades.

Editing your work is worthwhile, no matter how tight the deadline. It could be the difference between a C and a B or – even more importantly – a fail and a pass.

Read Also: 39 Better Ways to Write ‘In Conclusion’ in an Essay

Dictionary Definitions in Essays

Look, let’s face it. You should have written it earlier.

But, there’s always still hope. Now’s the time for action – get those top ten points you want to say on the issue done, then keep following the steps to the end. You can do it!

Let’s sum up those seven key steps one more time:

  • Hack your teacher’s lecture slides
  • Write down ten to fifteen key points to discuss
  • Turn each point into a 4 to 6 sentence paragraph
  • Use readings while writing your paragraphs.
  • Write a compelling Introduction and Conclusion
  • Fix up that Reference List
  • Edit it in the Morning

If you’ve finished all the steps – Congratulations. You got through! Now make sure you don’t do it again with these strategies that can help you get started early on even the toughest paper. You might recognise some of them?


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ Social-Emotional Learning (Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons)
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ What is Educational Psychology?
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ What is IQ? (Intelligence Quotient)
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 5 Top Tips for Succeeding at University

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7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • Published: May 14, 2024

Are you removing a lot of words and paragraphs from your essay but still not seeing the word count budge? Whether you’re meeting a strict word count or refining your message, reducing your essay’s length without sacrificing content quality can be challenging.

Luckily, besides just aiming for the minimum word count, there are some pretty simple solutions, like using artificial intelligence, conducting thorough research, and trimming unnecessary words. But there’s more.

In this guide, we’ll unpack some practical tips to help you make your essay concise and impactful. Time to make every word count!

7 Best Ways To Shorten an Essay

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the best ways you can shorten your essay:

1. Use Artificial intelligence

When we talk about academic writing, artificial intelligence (AI) can be a game changer, especially when it comes to reducing the length of your essays.

Tools like Smodin can help make your content more concise while enhancing overall quality. AI can help you shorten your essay through the following methods:

  • Automated rewriting : AI rewriting tools can reformulate existing content to make it more straightforward while maintaining the original meaning.
  • Sentence simplification : Algorithms can analyze your sentences and suggest simpler alternatives, helping eliminate redundant information and reduce word count.
  • Research assistance : Certain platforms have AI-powered research tools that allow you to quickly gather the most relevant information. This ensures that every word in your essay contributes to your argument without unnecessary fillers.
  • Plagiarism check : Ensuring your essay is plagiarism-free is crucial. For example, Smodin’s plagiarism detection tools help you identify and replace copied content with original, concise expressions.
  • Instant feedback : Receive real-time suggestions on how to streamline your text, focusing on the essentials to effectively communicate your message.
  • Reference generation : Automatically generate and insert citations in the correct format, which helps save you time while maintaining the academic integrity of your essay and keeping it short.

2. Identify Unnecessary Words and Remove Them

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to shorten your essay is by identifying and eliminating unnecessary words.

This approach helps decrease word count and sharpens your arguments, making your writing more compelling. You can identify and remove extra words by doing the following:

  • Spot wordy phrases : Often, phrases can be condensed without losing meaning. For example, the phrase “due to the fact that” can be replaced with “because.” Be on the lookout for wordy phrases that increase word count needlessly.
  • Remove unnecessary prepositional phrases : Prepositional phrases can be redundant or add unnecessary detail. Evaluate whether these phrases add value or just extra words. Cutting them can make sentences more direct.
  • Avoid redundancies : Redundant pairs like “absolutely essential” or “future plans” can be reduced to one word without losing informational value.
  • Trim excess adjectives and adverbs : Adjectives and adverbs can make writing better but can also lead to over-description. Use them sparingly, especially when they don’t contribute additional meaning to the nouns and verbs they modify.
  • Fewer words; more impact : Aim for brevity by using fewer words to express the same idea. This will help to reduce the word count while making your writing more impactful and clear.

3. Tighten Sentence Structure

Tightening your sentence structure is crucial for making your essay more concise and readable. Use active voice to make your writing clearer and more dynamic. This is especially important in academic writing, where you have to get to the point quickly.

In academic essays, shifting from passive voice to active voice can shorten and strengthen your sentences. For example, instead of writing, “The experiment was conducted by the students,” you can say, “The students conducted the experiment.” This reduces the number of words and places the action directly with the subject, making your sentences more direct.

Combining two separate sentences into one can streamline your ideas and reduce redundancies. Look for opportunities where sentences can be merged without losing their significance. For example, “He wrote the book. It became a bestseller.” can be rephrased as “He wrote the book, which became a bestseller.”

Also, avoid unnecessary qualifiers and modifiers that don’t add substantial information. Sentences often become bogged down with these extras, making them cluttered and long.

4. Conduct Thorough Research

When writing essays, extensive research can make the final output a lot shorter. Effective research helps you gather precise information that’s relevant to your topic. This means you’ll write more directly and avoid needless elaboration. Here’s how you can conduct research effectively:

  • Define the scope of your research : Determine what information is essential to the argument. This initial step will help you focus your research efforts and prevent irrelevant data.
  • Identify key sources : Begin with scholarly databases and academic journals that offer peer-reviewed articles. These sources provide credible, authoritative information that can be crucial for academic writing.
  • Use precise keywords : When searching for information, use specific keywords related to your essay topic. Precision here will help find the most relevant articles and studies, reducing time spent on unnecessary reading.
  • Evaluate sources : Assess the relevance and reliability of each source. Check the publication date to ensure the information is current and relevant to your topic.
  • Take notes efficiently : As you research, jot down important points, quotes, and references. Organize these notes according to the sections in your essay to make writing faster.
  • Synthesize information : Combine information from multiple sources to build a strong argument. This will allow you to write comprehensively and with fewer words, as each sentence carries more weight.

5. Improve Your Paragraph Structure

Streamlining paragraphs can make your essay shorter and more digestible for the reader. With a well-structured paragraph, you can focus on a single idea supported by concise statements.

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea. This sentence sets the direction and tone, letting the reader know what to expect. It also helps ensure that every following sentence relates directly to the main idea.

Condense supporting information by merging ideas that logically coexist within a single sentence or phrase. After that, evaluate each sentence for its contribution to the paragraph’s main idea. Remove any information that is repeated or goes into too much detail.

Focus on providing evidence and explanations that directly support the main point. You should also end each paragraph with a sentence that reinforces the main idea and potentially links to the next paragraph. This creates smooth transitions and keeps the essay focused and cohesive.

6. Refine the Introduction and Conclusion

These sections frame your essay and influence how your arguments are perceived. Here are some ways to keep them concise yet effective.


The introduction should be engaging and concise, clearly stating the purpose and scope of your essay. Begin with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention, followed by background information that sets the context. Incorporate your thesis statement early on, ideally at the end of the intro.

The conclusion needs to reinforce the thesis. Summarize key points in the essay and show how they support the thesis. Provide a final thought that leaves the reader with something to ponder.

Also, remember to keep it tight – the conclusion isn’t a place for introducing new ideas. It should wrap up the ones you presented and prompt the reader to pose their own questions.

7. Edit and Proofread

Keep your essay concise and error-free by allocating ample time for editing and proofreading. These processes scrutinize your work at different levels, from the overall structure to word choices and punctuation. Here’s how you can go about it:

Start by reading through your entire paper to get a feel for its flow and coherence. Check if all paragraphs support your thesis statement and if section transitions are smooth. This will help you spot areas where the argument might be weak, or wording could be clearer.

Focus next on paragraph structure. Ensure each paragraph sticks to one main idea and that all sentences directly support the idea. Remove any repetitive or irrelevant sentences that don’t add value.

Then, look for clarity and style. Replace complex words with simpler alternatives to maintain readability. Keep your tone consistent throughout the paper. Adjust the sentence length and structure to enhance the flow and make it more engaging.


Proofreading comes after editing. The focus here is catching typing errors, grammatical mistakes, and inconsistent formatting. It’s always best to proofread with fresh eyes, so consider taking a break before this step.

Use tools like spell checkers, but don’t rely solely on them. Read your essay aloud or have someone else review it. Hearing the words can help you catch errors you may have missed.

Lastly, check for punctuation errors and ensure all citations and references are formatted according to the required academic style. This and all of the above are areas in which AI can help get the job done with speed and precision.

Why You Might Need to Shorten Your Essay

Ever heard the expression “less is more”? When it comes to academic writing, it normally is. Keeping your essays concise offers several benefits:

  • Enhances clarity : A shorter essay forces you to focus on the main points and critical arguments, reducing the risk of going off-topic. This clarity makes your writing more impactful and easier for the reader to follow.
  • Meets word limits : Many academic assignments have a maximum word count. Learning to express your thoughts concisely helps you stay within these limits without sacrificing essential content.
  • Saves time : For both the writer and the reader, shorter essays take less time to write, revise, and read. This efficiency is especially valuable in academic settings where time is usually limited.
  • Increases engagement : Readers are more likely to stay engaged with a document that gets to the point quickly. Lengthy texts can deter readers, especially if the content has unnecessary words or redundant points.
  • Improves writing skills : Shortening essays helps refine your writing skills. You become better at identifying and eliminating fluff, focusing instead on what really adds value to your paper.

Overall, adopting a more succinct writing style helps you meet academic requirements and polish your communication skills.

Why Use Smodin To Shorten an Essay

Using AI-powered platforms like Smodin to shorten your essay is both the simplest and the least time-consuming method available. Here’s why you should probably make Smodin your go-to essay shortener:

  • Efficiency : Smodin eases the editing process, using advanced algorithms to quickly identify areas where content can be condensed without losing meaning.
  • Accuracy : With its powerful AI, Smodin ensures that the essence of your essays stays intact while getting rid of unnecessary words, making your writing more precise.
  • Ease of use : Smodin is user-friendly, making it accessible even to those who aren’t the most tech-savvy. Its easy-to-grasp interface allows for seamless navigation and operation.

Smodin’s offerings

  • Rewriter : Available in over 50 languages, this tool helps rewrite text to be more concise.
  • Article Writer : Assists in drafting articles that are crisp and to the point.
  • Plagiarism and Auto Citation : Ensures your essay is original and correctly cited, which is crucial in academic writing.
  • Language Detection : Identifies the language of the text, ensuring the right adjustments are made for clarity.

All these tools and more are what make Smodin an excellent choice for academics looking to reduce the length of their essays.

Final Thoughts

Word counts can be a real headache, especially when you need to say a lot with a little. Thankfully, by identifying unnecessary words, tightening your sentences, and using tools like Smodin, you can make your essay concise without losing its meaning. Remember, a shorter essay doesn’t just meet word limits; and it’s clear, more compelling, and more likely to keep your reader engaged.

Keep it short, keep it sweet, and make every word count! Get started for free right now with Smodin.

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How to Write an Essay in Under 30 Minutes

Last Updated: December 19, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Arash Fayz . Arash Fayz is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of LA Tutors 123, an academic consulting and private tutoring company based in Los Angeles, California. Arash has over 10 years of educational consulting experience, managing the tutoring of students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to score higher on standardized tests and gain admission to their target schools. He has a BA in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 601,926 times.

If you’re taking your SATs this year, you may be preparing to write a solid essay within the 30 minute time limit. Or you might be trying to improve your writing speed to complete essay exams faster and more efficiently. Writing a five paragraph essay in under 30 minutes can seem daunting, but with the right planning and time management, it is certainly achievable.

Sample Essays

how to learn an essay off by heart quickly

Planning the Essay

Step 1 Spend 10 minutes planning the essay.

  • For example, you may get a prompt in the form of quotation: “Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [3] X Research source
  • You may then receive a question attached to the prompt: “Are there some heroes who will be remembered forever? Or are all heroes doomed to be forgotten one day?" Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science. [4] X Research source

Step 3 Brainstorm your thesis...

  • For example, you may brainstorm the Longfellow quote/question by thinking of personal examples of heroes who are remembered or forgotten, such as family members, friends, teachers, or peers who have acted as heroes to you or to others. Or you may focus on a historical figure who seems to be a forgotten hero or a decorated hero.
  • This essay question is asking for two sides of the discussion, the forgotten hero and the remembered hero. Your thesis should discuss both sides and choose one side to argue for or against.
  • You may choose to spotlight a historical figure who encountered opposition and challenges in her life, such as the suffragette Susan B. Anthony. Anthony worked tirelessly for decades to get the government to recognize women’s right to vote, and was often derided by the government and by individuals within her own organization. She is a good example of a hero who was not recognized as a trailblazer until late in her life, though she is now remembered as a heroine in history. Try to refer back to the quotation in the essay prompt in your thesis, if possible, to show you have read the entire question.
  • A possible thesis statement could be: “Though Longfellow argues that names, or heroes, may be forgotten over time, one historical figure, Susan B. Anthony, was derided in her lifetime for her beliefs but is now remembered as a heroine of her time.”

Step 4 Create an outline.

  • Introduction: Your beginning paragraph should contain an engaging first sentence and your thesis statement. Some writers find it easier to write create a temporary introduction and revise it once they are finished with the essay. This will ensure the introduction is cohesive with the rest of the essay.
  • Conclusion: This paragraph should summarize your main argument and restate your thesis. You may also want to include last thoughts around the essay question.

Writing the Essay

Step 1 Take 15 minutes to write the essay.

  • Try to spend two to three minutes on each body paragraph. Then, take three minutes on your conclusion paragraph and go back to your introduction. Spend the last three minutes revising your introduction so it matches the tone and perspective of the rest of your essay.

Step 2 Use a hook in your introduction.

  • An interesting or surprising example: This could be a personal experience or a key moment in the life of the historical figure you are discussing in your essay. For example, you may discuss Anthony’s childhood as a Quaker and her later adoption of more casual dress and growing interest in social reform at the age of 26. [9] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
  • A provocative quotation: This could be from a source you used for your essay or one that feels relevant to your topic. For example, you may use a well known quote from Anthony, such as: “Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” [10] X Research source
  • A vivid anecdote: An anecdote is a very short story that carries moral or symbolic weight. Think of an anecdote that might be a poetic or powerful way to start your essay.
  • A thought provoking question: create a question that will get your reader thinking and engaged in your topic. For example: “Did you ever wonder how women received the right to vote in the United States?”

Step 3 Write your three body paragraphs.

  • Body paragraph 1: You may start by discussing Anthony’s early successes. Look at the establishment of the Women’s Loyal National League in 1863 by Anthony and Stanton. As the first national women’s political organization in the United States, it had a membership of 5000 and provided a platform for women to speak out on issues like slavery and women’s right to vote. [11] X Research source
  • Body paragraph 2: You may discuss Anthony’s mid career struggles. Look at the split in the women’s movement in May 1869, with the establishment of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) by Anthony and Stanton, and the rival American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Note how after the Civil War, Anthony devoted her time and life to the suffrage movement, assuming leadership of the NWSA in 1890 and continuing to advocate for women’s rights. Anthony also remained unmarried, which gave her an advantage under the law, as married women at the time were not permitted to sign official documents and had to defer to their husbands. [12] X Research source
  • Body paragraph 3: You may discuss Anthony’s later life, including her many speaking engagements throughout the United States on the need for women’s suffrage and equal rights. Though Anthony died in 1906, and did not live to see the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution, affording women the right to vote in the United States in 1920, her forty years of tireless work paved the way for the legal precedent and gave women a strong sense of empowerment and equality. [13] X Research source

Step 4 Summarize your thoughts in your conclusion.

  • For example, you may restate your thesis: “Throughout her life, Susan B. Anthony’s sacrificed her time, energy, and personal livelihood to advocate for women’s rights, proving that though many heroes may be forgotten, their actions will live on in history.”

Editing the Essay

Step 1 Use the last five minutes to proofread your essay.

  • For example, an essay on Susan B. Anthony could have the title: “An Unsung Heroine” or “Susan B. Anthony: An Advocate for Change”.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

You Might Also Like

Write an Essay

  • ↑ Arash Fayz. Test Prep Tutor. Expert Interview. 1 November 2019.
  • ↑ https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/essay_planning/essay-planning
  • ↑ https://resources.warburg.sas.ac.uk/pdf/emh823b2778298.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Writing-a-Response-or-Reaction-Paper
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/test-terror.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/should-i-use-i/
  • ↑ https://www.rochester.edu/sba/
  • ↑ https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/553350/laCossJoanHarkin.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/susan-b-anthony
  • ↑ https://www.britannica.com/biography/Susan-B-Anthony

About This Article

Arash Fayz

In order to successfully write an essay in under 30 minutes, you need to plan it out and work efficiently. Take a good 10 minutes to plan out the essay and come up with a thesis statement that will convey your argument and help guide your essay. It may seem like a large chunk of your time, but it will save you from having to rewrite or restructure your essay later on. Then, take 15 minutes to write your introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Use the last 5 minutes to proofread your essay and look for spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. Don’t worry about coming up with a title until you’re finished. It will be much easier then. For tips about how to edit an essay you write in under 30 minutes, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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    Part 2 Learning the lines We all learn differently. These are some suggestions that you may find helpful. The more you practise, the easier it will become. 1. Visualise your speech If you have a photographic memory, you might benefit from writing the speech out in different colours. Get a friend to check it.

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    If you've got to write your college essay fast, don't panic. First, set yourself deadlines: you should spend about 10% of your remaining time on brainstorming, 10% on outlining, 40% writing, 30% revising, and 10% taking breaks in between stages. Second, brainstorm stories and values based on your essay prompt.

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    A. Isabella___. Yeah think of one word of summary for each paragraph, then make a song or a rhyme with each word beginning with the first letter of each summary word in the appropriate order. Other than that just write it out again and again, looking as little as possible. And try to keep calm.

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    3. Repeat and memorize your sentence or image then practice producing the items you've memorized from your sentence or image. You'll use your sentence or image as a key that will bring up what you've memorized. Peanut butter and espresso bean sandwich wrapped in ethernet cable with a screwdriver going through it. =.

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    Your own lecture notes; Readings your teacher set for you; Any online videos, websites or other content your teacher provided. 2. Write down ten to fifteen key points to discuss. Hopefully your research in step 1 got you a lot of key points written down so you're off to a hasty start to writing your essay quickly.

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    Then learn the third and repeat the first, second and third aloud. I think you get the idea. Then, when you've learnt off a paragraph, give it to someone in your family and recite it for them. Then learn the next paragraph off and recite the two paragraphs for them.

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    19. Do a little at a time. Keep reading out loud, writing it, covering it, writing again. Keep writing and pay close attention to accents, spellings etc. Best thing to do is keep practising and keep writing. 7 years ago. A.

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    Read only the first phrase, slowly, three times whilst reading it on the script. [3] 4. Then without looking at the script, try to repeat it again. [4] 5. Now, read the first and second phrase out loud slowly, whilst reading them on the paper. 6. Read them without using your script.

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    2. Identify Unnecessary Words and Remove Them. One of the simplest yet most effective ways to shorten your essay is by identifying and eliminating unnecessary words. This approach helps decrease word count and sharpens your arguments, making your writing more compelling. You can identify and remove extra words by doing the following: Spot wordy ...

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    1. Take 15 minutes to write the essay. Now that you have your thesis statement and your outline, focus on composing content for each part of the essay. [7] Try to spend two to three minutes on each body paragraph. Then, take three minutes on your conclusion paragraph and go back to your introduction.