Non-stop: How to Write When You’re Out of Time

​Writing is a skill. Writing under pressure is an invaluable skill. Here are three strategies that will help you write an award-winning Scholar’s Cup essay.

Stay Calm - Day and Night As my meditation track says: “Brilliant things happen in calm minds.” When adrenaline levels are high, it becomes hard to think properly. A solution: take deep breaths, feel your feet on the ground, and visualize your success. Give yourself a sacred pause to clear out stress and give your brain space for critical thought.

Plan - Say What You Believe I’m a firm believer in taking a few minutes to outline before writing. It can be tempting to dive right into writing, but when you take the time to plan, the investment pays off as you write more quickly and confidently. When you don’t plan, you end up with not an essay but a social media post (#micdrop). If you’re searching for novel ways to outline, consider a mind map where you start with core concepts and branch outwards with each new thought.

Edit - Throwing Rocks at Mediocrities Even though time is short, remember this: some editing is better than none. Have a checklist of recurring edits and move ruthlessly through your essay to execute them. Here’s mine: Vary sentence length. Insert transitions. Eliminate passive voice. Correct typos. Small changes add up through the essay and leave a positive impression on your reader.

Good luck, happy writing, and may you be satisfied.

Tracy Huang is the founder of, an editing and writing service for college and graduate school applicants. She volunteered in 2016 at the Yale Tournament of Champions and has a pink alpaca in her office named Geraldine.