How to Write a Last Minute Essay

By Donna Moores on 13-03-2018
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You have a full course load at uni, a job in the evenings, friends to keep up with… before you know it, you have a big paper due tomorrow and it isn’t even started. What are you going to do? Essay writing, according to teachers takes a long time. You have to:

  1. Research

  2. Draft

  3. Choose and use quotes

  4. Rewrite

  5. Edit

  6. Revise

  7. Peer Edit

  8. Review

  9. Submit

But, when you only have a short time to write your essay, you have to trim this process down. With a limited time span, we advise you to take a few shortcuts to help you along the way. Why not get rid of the most labor-intensive parts of the job e.g. instead of spending hours researching in advance, start writing as you go along...

The Last-Minute Writing Process

When you are racing the clock to finish your essay, you don’t have time to spare for cumbersome processes. Instead, streamline activities. Make every step as simple as possible.

  1. Prepare

  2. Skim

  3. Outline

  4. Write

  5. Revise

  6. Submit


Set yourself up for success by following a few simple tips. Start by choosing motivating music. Some great choices are:

  • 70’s power ballads

  • 80’s hair band rock

  • Classical

  • Classical pop covers

  • Whatever works for you!

Next, make a plan of attack. Try writing in 25 minute increments with short breaks between so you don’t get burnt out. Make sure you save your work, regularly, too. You definitely don’t have time to repeat work.


Find a few quality sources of information and skim through them. You might have an article or book. If your paper pertains to research-based study, like a medical topic, abstracts from studies are a great source. As you look for information online, remember the most trustworthy sites end in:

  • .org

  • .gov

  • .co

  • .us

  • .uk


Once you have a general understanding of the topic, create an outline. Using Oxford style notes will make creating your actual paper super easy! For each Roman numeral, state what the paragraph is mostly about. For each capital letter, insert a quote or paraphrased fact.

After you have your quotes organized, the numerical entries following should be:

  1. Citation information

  2. Explanation of the quote or connection to your paper as a whole

  3. Your own writing; the “meat” of the paper

  4. Transitions between paragraphs.

When you are finished, you will have the bones of a paper in front of you. Ideally, skimming, gathering quotes, and creating an outline is the bulk of the work when you write a paper.

Sample outline:

Paragraph title


Citation information

Your own information or ideas

Relation to the paper as a whole

Paraphrased information

And so on.


Use your outline to create your paper. By turning each billeted entry into a complete sentence and varying your sentence structure, you will soon have a reasonably well-written essay.

When you finish, use a site like to create your works cited. You can also hire a custom essay writing service to save even more time and stress.


After you finish writing, take a break and get away from your paper for a few minutes. It is important to step away and put your mind to something else so you can go back and look at it with fresh eyes. Even playing a mindless game for a few rounds will help.

When you go back to your paper, read it through three times:

Once out loud

Once looking for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors

Once looking for citation or quotation errors

Reading Aloud

When you read your paper aloud, you are more likely to notice shoddy wording or structure. You are also more likely to notice if you have not fitted ideas together clearly.

Looking for Errors

Once you have made the corrections you found you needed from your read-aloud, go through again and look for simple errors. Check the spelling of words you are not very familiar with. Make sure all necessary punctuation is used.

Checking Citations

The third time you read through your paper, make sure all of your citations are correctly written. Check names, titles, and page numbers or article names. Remember the tricky punctuation when in MLA or APA style- check a guide if you are unsure.

Bonus Options

If you have a few spare minutes before you need to submit your paper, and you have a friend nearby, ask them to read it through and offer any insights they have. This is a great, quick way to check for fluency without doing a full peer revision.


Make sure you submit your paper on time. After all of that high-speed hard work, it would be a shame to miss a deadline and lose points!

Closing Tips from the Staff

While this is a great way to get an essay turned in when you’ve forgotten or just plain procrastinated, make sure that in the future you plan ahead. Try an essay writing service if you are really tight on time, or start your paper a few days or weeks in advance. This will save you a lot of stress and effort, too!


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