A mistake that could cost you a lot of points is going off on tangents and not relating what you are writing to the question at hand. It is imperative that you re-read and understand the question being asked so that you can get as many points as possible. Reading the prompt twice helps solidify what you need to work on in your mind and it maximizes your chances of not leaving anything out.
Outlining is a very powerful tool! Many may be more inclined to immediately jump into writing the second after reading the prompt. However, organizing your thoughts will give your essay a sense of direction so that it is more organized. Remember that you are on a time limit so it doesn’t have to be too fancy. Quickly jot down a few main points for the framework of your essay so that there is structure.
Devote some of your time specifically to finding strong evidence and an even stronger thesis statement. Mary Ostergen, a writer on Medium, explains this well. “Write passionately …and make sure to put some reasoning in there connecting your evidence to your claim. Make sure every piece of evidence points to your claim. Your thesis is your guide. Your thesis is your North Star. Don’t forget about it”.
During timed writing what may be hours flee in a matter of seconds and it can be easy to get lost in a haze of concentration and forget to check over your writing. Sometimes after putting so much into writing, reading over it can feel like a task! But looking over your work will help you to get rid of any major spelling/grammatical mistakes.
The last thing you would want is to have an amazing essay with terrible sentence structure and horrible grammar! This doesn’t mean that you should obsess over grammar/spelling while you are writing; this will take valuable time away from you. But try your best to avoid making silly mistakes.
Adding diversity to your sentence structure can help to reveal your strengths as a writer! Kubus AP English Literature states, “Prove to your reader that you know how to put together a coherent sentence and that you understand that a paragraph is a complete unit of thought. Let one thought naturally flow into the next. You know how to do this.”
Don’t forget to breathe! – remember to always take a second to collect your thoughts! This will help you to effectively convey your mastery over whatever it is that you are writing about.
Check out College Boards Advice on Writing for more information & tips!