Know your subject.
Research/study/learn/analyze, and then
formulate an opinion about your subject
before you start writing.
According to Yale Daily News’ Insider’s Guide to the Colleges,
‘It’s always a good idea to write about something that is meaningful to you.
If you feel strongly about the topic, it will show through in your writing.’
Once you know your subject, start writing.
Explain everything you know and think about your subject.
Do not look at any outside sources.
Adopt the tone of explaining the subject to someone who
knows nothing (or very little) about it.
[Write for 25 minutes. Time yourself.]
After you’ve written for 25 minutes,
spend (no more than) five minutes
reading what you just wrote.
Then, list everything
you would still include (write about),
if you had more time.
Now that you have a ‘rough’ draft,
put it away for as long as possible.
In the case of an hour-long in-class essay,
you may only have five minutes to do this.
Don’t look at the draft!!
Just allow yourself to think for five minutes,
or, if possible, a whole day.
After the day, or five minutes, has passed,
read your draft, then address the issues
you listed in III.
[If necessary (and if time permits), repeat steps IV and V.]
Add relevant (or required) citations and quotations.
Do not use quotations to communicate the content;
rather, use them to enhance the content you have already explained.
If, while executing I – V, you refrain from looking at outside sources,
you will never be in danger of accidentally plagiarizing.
Polish your essay.
Have someone ‘…look over it for you.
They can help you both find technical mistakes in spelling and grammar
and point out places where you could be more clear in your content.’
(Yale Daily News)
Now you’re ready to present your essay,
and be content
that you have done your best.