How Long Does it Take to Write an Essay? (Quick Answer!)

September 13, 2022

how long does it take to write an essay explained

How long does it take to write an essay? An hour? A day? Maybe even more than that? We take an in-depth look into this question and give you a response that will help you plan your essay and write it accordingly.

And let’s be honest on one thing:

Writing an essay paper sucks. 

You cannot just flip a book open and begin writing. You need to brainstorm, research, write an outline, draft, edit and then make sure that the work is properly cited, not to mention you must know how to write a killer essay without missing your deadline. 

A good essay is detailed and it contains sufficient information. One secret to writing your paper first is to manage information overload.

It is important to know how long you will take to finish your essay, as this enables you to divide the time among the days you have to submit your paper.

So keep reading to find out how long it takes to write an essay.

How Long Does It Take to Write an Essay?

There is no fixed answer to this question, as there are many factors that come into play.

For instance, how long is your essay 500 words, 3000 words or 10 pages? The longer the essay, the more time it will take to complete it.

The time you take to complete an essay also depends on the complexity of the subject. Generally, science and technical subjects are more difficult to write and hence take more time.

Your writing skills will also determine how quickly you finish your essay. Also, the research methods you use and how organized you are will affect the time you take to finish a paper.

If your task is to write a simple TOK essay that doesn’t require research, you will need a minimum of one hour to be done writing 500 words. If you add in citations, research, distractions of life and difficulty to understand the topic, this time can increase significantly. 

To be on the safe side, you need to do all you can to save as many hours as possible. And to get an idea of how long it will take you to finish your essay, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much research do I need to do?
  • Are the resources needed to write the essay available?
  • Will the essay require citations, or are you just required to share your opinions and thoughts?
  • Do I struggle with writing or does it come naturally?
  • Will I need an outline, a bibliography, or a title page?
  • Will I be busy with family, social obligations, or work?
  • What do I know about the topic?

To get an idea of the time it might take you to complete your essay, use this method. Assume you want to write a 5-page essay. Here is a quick guideline you might want to go with.

  • Pre-writing
  • Writing
  • Post-writing

1. Prewriting – Takes About 8 Hours

This includes brainstorming, outlining, and researching. Time to allot to each specific activity is:

  • Brainstorming – 2 hours
  • Outlining – 1 hour
  • Research – 5 hours.

2. Writing

Writing will be a lot easier if you have researched your topic thoroughly and write a detailed outline.

The time you take to finish any essay will also depend on the length of the paper.

If you have all the information you need and you have good typing speed, you will take 1 hour to write a 500-word essay. So if your essay is 3,000 words, you will take more time to write it, probably 3 hours with 15-minute breaks per hour.

We can break down the writing into the following parts:

  • Title – 20 minutes
  • Introduction – 10 minutes
  • Body (depends on the length of the article but 2 hours will do for a 5-page essay)
  • Conclusion – 20 minutes.

3. Post Writing – 2 hours 30 minutes

After writing, you cannot just hand in your work like that. You will need to proofread it and rewrite as necessary, format your work, and also write a bibliography.

This is how the time slices are apportioned for each specific post-writing task:

  • Rewriting or editing – 1 hour
  • Proofing – 1 hour
  • Formatting – 30 minutes

Tips to Improve Your Essay Writing Speed

1. Make a Plan

Like they say, failing to plan is planning to fail, and there is nowhere this saying makes more sense than in writing your essay.

Granted, writing an outline takes time. But the good news is that you will more than recover this time later when you are writing and it’s sure to enable you write your essay much faster.

A prior plan is important elements that you want to sort before you start to write your thesis statement as well as the arguments and evidence that you intend to use to support your essay. Once you have figured these things out, you’ll have a clear roadmap that will help you complete your essay.

2. Do Your Research 

The research process is best done together with the above step. After all, it’s pointless to write a thesis if it cannot be supported with research.

Your outline needs to include your research, and this also means the direct quotations you take from primary sources.

If you take time to find quotations from books and scholarly articles to support your thesis statement before you start to write, it will make your writing a lot faster. This is because you will have reduced interruptions.

3. Identify a Distraction-Free Place to Work

If you don’t find a place that’s clear of distractions, then you can be sure that you are going to write much more slowly. If you have noisy roommates, then writing your essay is going to be more difficult.

Similarly, avoid working in a crowded café or a busy library. People shouldn’t think that it’s okay for you to be constantly interrupted.

That’s why top students identify 2-3 out-of-the-way places that are quiet and free of distractions. This enables them to work uninterruptedly and most efficiently.

You just need to ensure that the spot you have selected has Wi-Fi. It should also be free to work in for as long as you want. Also, the spot needs to have sufficient lighting and space for spreading out your work.

4. Break Your Essay into Sections 

Writing your essay in one massive chunk is akin to travelling halfway around the world in one day. This simply means that it’s impossible to without dividing your essay into parts. When a task is broken down into chunks, it becomes a lot easier to accomplish.

Rather than trying to do everything all at once, divide your essay into meaningful sections. After that, try to complete just a single section at a time.

Also, allow yourself a few minutes’ breaks between one section and the next. This will make the task less tiresome and boring.

5. Remember Organization is Key

How do you know that you are not properly organized?

One of the main signs of disorganization is when you have to constantly fumble around in search of notes, your textbook, pen etc.

You can avoid all these by maintaining a tidy work area by clearing everything not related to the essay at hand. To ensure your notes are categorized and organized, use some special apps such as Evernote.

6. Make an Inventory of all the Research You Do

Take stock of every research that you make.

Write down the site, date, and the result of the information you got from that source. This prevents a situation where you go round in circles. It also helps you to organize your bibliography later on.

A Few Tips for an Excellent Essay

Here are some tips that can help you write a great essay: 

1. Hire Essay Writing Help 

There's no harm in seeking for essay writing help online.

So if you don't have the time to do the work, or you have only a few hours left before the deadline, you can pay someone to write an essay for you and get the work done fast. 

2. Know your instructor’s demands

Different teachers and schools may have varying requirements for completing assignments. You need to be aware of these demands and ensure you stick to them during research and writing processes.

3. Manage Your Time

The worst mistake you can make is assuming that the lecturer has given you too much time to complete the essay.

It is always better to start early so you have lots of time to proofread your work and do the final touches.

4. Get a good template

Being armed with a good example of work is sure to help you a lot.

Therefore, take some time to search for a sample text to work with. However, do not copy somebody else’s ideas.

5. Edit Your Work

After completing your writing, you must edit your work. Read and re-read your text and see what you can improve.

Also, it helps you to spot any obvious mistakes that you may have missed earlier.

Also Read: Why Essay Writing Should Not Be Cheap


Few things are more boring than writing an academic essay. It takes a great deal of research, writing, editing, and finally submitting the work.

More importantly, these writing tasks have tight deadlines so you need to plan yourself well and make sure you submit in time. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}