2. Think on paper.
At the center of your paper, write a few
words that summarize the essay prompt.
Draw a line radiating from the center idea
for each relevant fact, possible argument,
proof point, or supporting detail that
comes to mind. Branch off these ideas as
additional details emerge. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if you
are not sure it fits. You may read more
about how to make a mind map at http://
3. Organize ideas.
Look at the mind map, and decide which
ideas best fit the essay assignment, and
which idea seems most interesting and
easiest to support. Number or circle
them. In an untimed writing process,
you would create an outline from the selected points, but for the timed essay, just
move to the next step.
These are the writing steps (75-80% of
4. Write the draft.
Once you have decided on the order of
ideas in your essay, begin writing. At
this stage, you have thoroughly thought
through the question and your ideas, and
have a sturdy framework to build on. Begin writing your first draft, following the
outline you have created.
5. Review and revise.
When the draft is completed, read it
aloud to yourself. This will help you pinpoint areas that seem unclear or poorly
expressed. As you find things that need
to be fixed, mark them, and keep reading
so you do not lose the flow of the text.
When you are finished, go through, and
fix the things you have marked. When it
is as good as you can make it in the allotted time, turn it in.
The goal for timed essay practice is
to write a coherent essay draft that ad-
dresses the essay prompt, has a clear se-
quence of ideas, and correctly uses the
mechanical skills of writing, all within
the appropriate amount of time. If you
practice one timed essay draft per week
throughout the school year, your student
is likely to finish the year feeling much
more confident about his or her writing
ability. And you’ll be able to look forward
to high school with confidence!
Janice Campbell has been writing and
speaking on literature and writing since
she began homeschooling in the 1980s.
She is the author of Excellence in Litera-
Consider sitting down and writing an essay along with them.
ture ( http://excellence-in-literature.com), a
self-directed, college-prep English curricu-
lum for grades 8-12, as well as Transcripts
Made Easy (http://transcriptsmadeeasy
.com), Get a Jump Start on College (http://
jump-start-on-college/), and other resources.
Janice creates resources that help ordinary
homeschool moms achieve extraordinary
results. You’ll find more articles at Doing
WhatMatters.com, and her books and free
e-newsletter at Everyday-Education.com.
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view a solution to the sample question below.
In the xy-plane, the line determined by the points
( 8, 3) and (a, b) passes through the origin. If a ≠ 0,
what is the value of