IN JUST 20
MINUTES A DAY
Copyright © 2006 LearningExpress, LLC.
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Published in the United States by LearningExpress, LLC, New York.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
Write better essays in just 20 minutes a day—2nd ed.
Rev. ed. of: Write better essays in just 20 minutes a day / Elizabeth Chesla. 1st ed.
1. English language—Rhetoric—Problems, exercises, etc. 2. Essays—Authorship—
Problems, exercises, etc. 3. Report writing—Problems, exercises, etc. I. Chesla,
Elizabeth L. Write better essays in just 20 minutes a day. II. LearningExpress
(Organization) III. Title: Write better essays in just twenty minutes a day.
Printed in the United States of America
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SECTION 1 Planning the Essay 17
LESSON 1 Thinking about Audience and Purpose 19
LESSON 2 Understanding the Assigned Topic 25
LESSON 3 Brainstorming Techniques: Freewriting and Listing 31
LESSON 4 More Brainstorming Techniques: The 5 W’s and Mapping 37
LESSON 5 Choosing a Topic and Developing a Thesis 43
LESSON 6 Outlining and Organizational Strategies 49
LESSON 7 More Organizational Strategies 57
SECTION 2 Drafting the Essay 63
LESSON 8 Thesis Statements and the Drafting Process 65
LESSON 9 Paragraphs and Topic Sentences 71
LESSON 10 Providing Support 77
LESSON 11 Strategies for Convincing 85
LESSON 12 Introductions 93
LESSON 13 Conclusions 99
SECTION 3 Revising, Editing, and Proofreading the Essay 105
LESSON 14 Revising: The Big Picture 107
LESSON 15 Revising Paragraphs 113
LESSON 16 Editing 121
LESSON 17 Proofreading 131
SECTION 4 Taking an Essay Exam 141
LESSON 18 Preparing for an Essay Exam 143
LESSON 19 Drafting, Editing, and Proofreading 151
LESSON 20 Sample Essay Exam Questions and Answers 157
ANSWER KEY 173
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 193
ou probably can’t even count how many essays you’ve written for your high school classes. There are
essays assigned in English and composition classes, history and civics classes, and language classes.
Many electives even require essays. If you’re a junior or senior, you know that the stakes for essay writ-
ing keep getting higher. You’ll probably have to write one in class as part of an exam, and/or have a large part of
your grade based on an essay. But they’re not just worth grades—essays are also a part of high-stakes tests like the
ACT, Regents’, and SAT; and they’re required on college applications.
How can you improve your essay-writing skills, not only to get better grades, but also to score higher on tests
and boost your chance for admission to the college you’d like to attend? This book offers a step-by-step plan that
can be completed in just a few weeks.
How to Use This Book
There are 20 lessons in this book, each of which should take you about 20 minutes to complete. If you read ﬁve
chapters a week and complete the practice exercises carefully, you should become a more powerful and effective
essay writer in one month.
Although each lesson is designed to be an effective skill builder on its own, it is important that you proceed
through the book in order, from Lesson 1 through Lesson 20. The material in Section 2 references and builds on
what you’ll learn in Section 1, as Sections 3 and 4 reference and build on Sections 1 and 2. Writing is a process—
a series of skills, strategies, and approaches that writers use to create effective essays. In reality, this process isn’t
as linear this book presents. You might prefer to brainstorm ﬁrst, and then write a thesis statement—and that’s
ﬁne. However, once you understand the writing process, you can adapt it to your unique working style and to each
speciﬁc writing situation you encounter.