Without any doubt, the best way you can follow when you are given an academic assignment is to plan ahead and gradually write it over the entire period of time you’re given to perform the task. It is especially true for large research papers that take a while to collect all the information needed when working on them. However, it isn’t always possible to do within the short deadlines.
Sometimes, you have too much other work to pay attention to in your research paper. Sometimes, you may lose an almost complete assignment because of a computer crash. That’s why don’t forget to create a backup version to avoid such cases. Sometimes, you simply procrastinate until the very last minute. Reasons don’t matter – what matters is that you have a single day to complete your college assignment and not a single idea on how to do it; if this is the kind of predicament you find yourself in, this article is for you.
How to Write a Research Paper in a Day: Environment
Writing an essay in one day is by no means easy or enjoyable, especially if your school has strict requirements; yet it can be done. However, the situation you are in requires special methods, and it is not enough to just know how to write an essay in general. You have to properly prepare and organize your work strategically. Here are some things you should take care of:
- Don’t panic. Yes, you’ve got yourself into an unpleasant situation and will have to mobilize all your resources to successfully deal with it. However, you are neither the first nor the last student who has to write an essay in 1 day. Most of those who actually try to do the job instead of running around in panic manage to pull it off. You can do it – if you adopt the right mindset.
- Take stock of your time resources. Ask yourself, “How much time can you realistically dedicate to writing an essay?”, “When exactly is a submission date?”, “What other assignments will you have to complete today?”, “How long do you intend to sleep?’, and so on. All these questions will help you realize exactly how much time you have. Maybe, you’ll find an extra hour just to rest.
- Divide the time you have into segments dedicated to specific tasks. There are a lot of stages you need to pass through while writing an academic paper – information collection, reading the sources and making notes, organizing your notes, planning your essay, determining your thesis statement, writing per se, formatting, proofreading, etc. This way, you will know if you are lagging behind and have to work faster.
- Eliminate all possible distractions during the writing process. Turn off your phone and all the notifications you receive. If you live not alone, tell those around you that you are not to be bothered for the entire day today. Ask them to talk as little as possible to you even if you address them (you may be tempted to take a break and go chat with someone halfway through, so take measures beforehand). Use a tool like Leechblock to block all the websites that may ruin your concentration, or you will find yourself wandering off to check social networks when you get tired and bored. Besides, take into consideration tips on how to avoid study distractions. Alternatively, try 5 practical tips on how to avoid distractions and stay focused while studying from the video below.
- Take regular breaks. The prolonged work brings diminishing returns as you get more and more tired. Research-tested benefits of breaks prove this fact. You can alleviate this effect by resting a little bit every now and then: take a break of at least 5 minutes every 45 minutes or so. Don’t go chatting with someone as you risk to spend too much time doing it. Instead, do some quick physical exercises, drink a cup of water, and get back to work.
- Try a change of scenes. If you find yourself incapable of concentrating in your usual workspace, try going somewhere else. Some students write better in libraries or in coffee shops – if you see such an environment more helpful, try it out. Additionally, you can find someone who could give you some ideas for writing.
- Don’t neglect food and water. Good hydration is instrumental for clear thinking, and food will maintain your energy levels that will certainly be drained before you are done with your paper. This means that you should stock up on water (water, not soda) and some healthy snacks to keep you going while you are working.
How to Deal with an Urgent Paper: Preparation
Once you’ve got into the right state of mind, it is time… not to write, but to carefully prepare the groundwork. Otherwise, you risk going in a wrong direction and wasting what you shouldn’t waste right now – your time.
✏ Don’t try to trick your teacher or instructor and try to make your essay longer than it really is. There are many ways to do it: using slightly wider margins or a larger font, for example. Don’t be tempted to do this – any English teacher has seen it done dozens of times and will immediately recognize such tricks. The only thing you achieve is that a look of deep annoyance crossed their faces. You surely don’t want this to reflect in your grade. Right?
✏ Make sure you understand the essay question(s). When you are under the time pressure, it is likely easy to skim over the question to get to writing faster. Don’t do this – it is all too easy to miss some crucial details and realize it only when you reread the question after the essay is finished. It may be too late to introduce any changes. It is especially dangerous when you are nervous (and you are understandably nervous if you have an essay to be done in a few hours) – your brain can’t think straight, and you may be inclined to see what you want or expect to see instead of what is written in the question. That’s why you should always take your time and read the question carefully.
✏ Find reliable information sources in advance. If you already know which books you are going to use, it’s excellent. If not, use the academic search and indexing services like Google Scholar or EBSCO to find sources dealing with your topic. Make notes if necessary or simply place bookmarks in places you are going to use in your writing to avoid losing time hunting for the necessary fragments while you work. Plunge into evaluating the information you find in your sources.
✏ Prepare your thesis statement. A thesis statement is a short (no more than a couple of sentences at most) expression of the main gist of your argument. Summing up your argument makes it easier to organize your information and keep to a single train of thought throughout your essay. If you find it difficult to boil your argument down to a single sentence, there are chances that you don’t quite realize what you are writing about. Your idea for the essay is either too vague or you don’t quite understand the question. Don’t start writing until you get it out of the way – otherwise, you risk wasting valuable time.
Working on an Urgent Paper: Writing Itself
As for the writing per se, working on a paper that has to be done today is quite similar to the way you usually work – the only difference is that you have to save time whenever possible and work fast. It may be quite difficult to keep the necessary pace, so you should take care to maintain the discipline and avoid distractions. Here are some other things that you may want to consider:
- Speed things up by typing your notes in the same document you use for writing an essay. For example, plan out what exactly you are going to write in each paragraph: write a single sentence describing the main point it covers and a couple of lines that support the evidence for each paragraph. After you’ve mentioned all the points you want, reread the results. If necessary, reorganize them in the order that you consider as the most logical one. What results from it is going to be both a detailed outline of your essay and a framework around which you are going to build it.
- Arrange an outline that is basically the gist of your essay without all the usual filler, padding, and quotations. Your job now is to provide exactly this. Spread out your arguments, add citations from your sources, make sure paragraphs flow into one another logically, fill in the blanks, and you will see how the essay grows around the frame.
- Don’t bother with introduction and conclusion until you’ve written everything else. The introduction comes first for the reader but not for you. It should be written from the perspective of someone who already knows everything there. Know about the subject matter, research the essay question thoroughly and make all the necessary conclusions. If you try to write the introduction first, you will most likely have to rewrite it from scratch later on, so don’t bother. The most logical order of writing is a thesis statement – body paragraphs – introduction – conclusion. This order has been established by specialists long before you, so don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
- Complete the reference list. If you are told to provide references for your essay, do it as you go along. Don’t either put it off until the end (this way you may miss something) or try to organize your bibliography beforehand (you never know which sources exactly you are going to quote). Depending on the formatting style you use (APA, MLA, Harvard, etc.), organize quotations either as footnotes or directly in the text (as it is accepted in the APA style). When you quote somebody, add the necessary note to your bibliography and in the paper itself.
- Concentrate on one task at a time. Right now, it is writing. Don’t get distracted by correcting typos or mistakes until you’ve finished typing the whole essay unless you get really bothered by red underline in Microsoft Word. If you constantly go back to correct something, you risk losing your train of thought and, therefore, your momentum.
- Don’t plagiarize. As you write, you may be tempted to simply copy and paste a sentence or two here and there to speed up the process. Don’t do this. If you take something from another book or article, always quote it. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense that will cause you to lose your instructor’s trust at the very least. In many colleges, it may lead to other, even more unpleasant, consequences, up to expulsion. Taking into account how easy it is to check if the text is original these days, the risk is simply not worth it.
- Avoid relying on quotes too much. Students pressed for time often introduce long and numerous quotes into their writing, trying to bloat their word count as quickly as possible. Don’t do this – it is an obvious trick and immediately demonstrates that you didn’t do the work you were expected to. Most of the content should be your own. If you use quotes, make sure they are short and to the point.
Writing a paper in a single day may seem like an impossible task, but you can do it if you organize yourself and decide here and now that you are going to emerge victorious from this predicament. Use these tips, and we are sure that you will be able to pull this off!