Ever wait until the day before an essay is due, stare at a blank word document and just slam your fingers into the keyboard until you reach the page limit?
Ever stare at a cover letter like… how do I tell this company that I deserve this job?
Ever wonder how the SAT and AP exams expect people to write an essay within 45 minutes because it always takes you like 4 hours just to write the introduction?
I’ve been there. And I discovered an easier way to write the essays while also getting better results.
I dare you to challenge me--I can write an essay in 5 minutes or less.
That’s crazy, but I promise it’s possible. I’ve done it countless times for students when I worked as a substitute teacher. I’d say give me any topic and any opinion I can write a 3 paragraph essay about it in five minutes.
I’m going to show you how in this post. I started developing this skill in high school in AP English, and as an English major at the University of Delaware. I used this skill to
Write essays that got me high scores on both AP English exams, AP Psych, and AP US History.
Win college scholarships for myself and friends, including a study abroad trip to Spain
Win first place in the First Year Experience Essay Contest in 2011
Graduate a semester early with a 3.7 GPA in my major in 2014
In the real world to write pitch emails for companies to pay me to write articles for them
In the real world to convince health insurance companies to cover my medication
Writing an essay in 5 minutes is easy if you understand the “formula” for writing an essay. While it’s true that writing is an art and a craft, not a science, that doesn’t mean you can’t create formulas for art.
These are better known as techniques, but for other methodical minded people I want to approach writing with this formula:
Thesis: (your perspective, hypothesis, or argument)
Evidence: (reasons why you believe what you do)
Conclusion & Call to Action: (why are you making this argument and what can we do about it)
I’ll go more in-depth on each component in future posts, but for now let’s stick to the basics with an example:
Thesis: Dogs are better companions for humans than cats because dogs are also social creatures.
Evidence: Dogs are empathic creatures, cats are not
Conclusion & CTA: If you want to be happy get a dog.
Human beings are social creatures that struggle when faced with loneliness. Sometimes we turn to animals for companionship, and having a pet can help us cope with loneliness by providing companionship. When it comes to animal companions, dogs are far better than cats because they make us feel less alone.
Dogs are empathetic creatures. They are known to take on the personality of their owners. Cats are aloof and known to avoid their owners. When they do enjoy spending time with humans, it is only on their time. Dogs by contrast are social creatures who crave the same companionship we do. They want to be with us. They depend on us for food. And it is crucial to their survival and ours to feel love and belonging. Cats are not social animals. They can depend on their own hunting skills for survival. They may occasionally enjoy human companionship, but it is not necessary to their existence and fulfillment the way it is for dogs.
In order to remedy loneliness, it helps to have a companion. Since cats don’t share the same social needs as humans, they don’t make as good companions as dogs. If you or a loved one struggles with loneliness, you should visit your local shelter and adopt a dog.
Is this the most convincing argument in the world? No. But I wrote it in five minutes for an 11th grade English class at MOT High school in Middletown, DE. I can write an equally convincing argument in 5 minutes about why cats are better pets, outlined as such:
Thesis: Humans are busy and cats are better pets than dogs because they’re less of a time commitment.
Evidence: Cats don’t need to be taken on daily walks.
Conclusion: Get a pet that doesn’t take up all your time and energy; a cat is perfect.
But I digress. The important lesson in this essay example is the use of the basic argument formula. My goal with all my workshops is to use this formula as a basis for your success the way I have used it for mine.
You can apply this to writing essays for school, exams, standardized tests and even cover letters outlined as
Thesis: “I’m a great candidate for this job because I can make your company better.
Evidence: I did this amazing thing at my last job.
Conclusion & CTA: “Given that I’d make I’d make your company better by working for you, you want to hire me. Let’s chat tomorrow.”
Of course, every person has different skills, backgrounds, and goals. Every professor assigns different papers, different objectives, and with different biases. We can go over how to prepare YOU for your dream interview, how to deal with that difficult professor, and how to prepare you to seize all the opportunities ahead of you.