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The Timed Essay Writing Catastrophe

May 1, 2015

by: Justin Weltz

the doctorThey came sprinting from a police call box in the middle of the hall like two lunatics. The man, tall with big puffy hair, wore a striped suit, tie and vest. He did not look like anyone I had ever seen on Appalachian’s campus. The woman, a slightly disheveled mess of red, was too out of breath to talk.

The man spoke first in an English accent saying, “See! I told you that he hadn’t gone in yet; you haven’t gone in yet have you? Of course you haven’t. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking.”

The woman, now slightly recovered, interjected, “Doctor, introductions!”

“Right of course. I am the Doctor, and this is Donna.”

Thoroughly confused, I asked, “Doctor who?”

“No, just the Doctor.”

“Wait, who are y–? You know what; I don’t care. I have an exam to take.”

“That’s why we’re here!” Donna said. “You cannot take that test.”

“Why not?”

They looked at each other for two beats, and I turned to walk away when they shouted, “Wait!”

As I turned to look at them, I noticed that the walls and ceilings looked smaller and larger as if they were distorted.

The doctor quickly explained, “Here’s the thing. You’re about to go into this exam, and you haven’t prepared for it as you should. Because you have no plan to write your essays, once you go in there, it will feel like time’s crawling to a stop. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it is for you because once you begin this exam, time will actually stop. This whole building will fall out of the time stream, and it won’t come out until forty years from now when you finish your exam.”

I rolled my eyes, and, just as I was beginning to turn, Donna said, “Hey, BOY! I know this sounds crazy, but just look at that clock.”

I turned to see the clock on the wall, which was showing that I had three minutes to get to my one o’clock exam. The second hand wasn’t moving, “The clock is not working. So what?”

“Now, look out the window,” the doctor said.

As I did, I noticed that it was almost dark. I was stunned. “Don’t worry, you are a time empath. If you have strong feelings, time will bend to match your mood. When you feel happy, time speeds up, or overly anxious or nervous, it slows down.

“Since we’ve got this extra time,” said the doctor with a grin, “we brought you some study tips for essay exams that will probably help. After time is set right, it is a simple fix to keep you from messing with the weebly wobbly of timey wimey of the universe.”

“Okay.” I said skeptically.

The doctor began his lesson, “Keep track of time. Not all of us have a time machine, and even if you did have one, you would not want to use it to keep going back to the beginning of a test.”

“A what?!”

“Time machine,” Donna said rolling her eyes because apparently everyone has time machines. “You know how much time the exam will be, so make sure you allot yourself enough time to finish each topic, if you have several, and plan your essays.”

“And plan your essay,” the Doctor breezed out. “It only takes a few minutes or seconds to identify the key elements of the prompt or topic so that you can stay on track with your essay. Napoleon was great at planning things except for that one time…I think it was waterpark or skip-to-my-lou or something. Ended the little guy’s career.”

“Am I supposed to take notes on this?”

“No, yes, maybe…” the doctor trailed off. “You should also organize and support your ideas throughout the paper.”

“Especially if it is a longer essay,” Donna said.  “Make sure that you have a logical flow before you begin writing. And make sure you use details to support your ideas. I didn’t notice details once and almost married a jerk and got killed by a bug queen,” she said with a laugh.


“Whateva,” Donna scoffed, “You will have information to draw from for longer essays, but if you don’t, use information from your class, books, television, and anything else you can think of because it’ll make your writing sound smart. Also, you need to make sure you explain your support.”


“And! Don’t spend too much time on introductions and conclusions,” the doctor, now thoroughly involved in his advice said, “I once was a teacher, and the key to most essay tests is to make a strong point and support it, not drone on and on.”

Donna added, “Leave time to read over what you’ve written. It doesn’t matter if it’s a written or typed essay: make sure you have time to reread what you have written to make sure it makes sense and is free of spelling and grammar errors.”

“Do you feel better about the test now?” Donna asked.

I nodded, and she said, “I could tell.” She nodded at the wall as she rolled her eyes, “The clock has started again. Now, go in there, and take your test.”

As I walked away, I heard a faint buzzing noise, and the Doctor said, “Well, that clears that up.” A few seconds later, I heard the sound of a car turning over but not cranking, and when I turned to look at it, the Police Call Box was gone.tenant


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