Define a topic: If you`re allowed to choose your own topic, try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
For this reason, it can be helpful to simulate the conditions of a timed exam before the actual day: pick a practice question, find some lined paper, set a stopwatch, and see how you do!
Take note of the amount of time allotted for the exam and split it into reasonably-sized segments, leaving some time at the end for revision if possible. Without a schedule to follow, it`s easy to become too focused on a single paragraph and run out of time to finish the essay.
In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.
This tip may seem basic, but it`s easy to forget and it can make a big difference. Both these measures won`t just make it easier for the marker to read your paper; they`ll also help you write it. If you have time left at the end of the exam for review, having the ability to skim quickly through your work and write revisions in blank spaces will be incredibly helpful.
Some students react to the time pressure of essay exams by scribbling down their introduction as soon as they`ve read the question and figuring out their points as they go. While it might seem counter-intuitive, taking five or ten minutes before you start writing in order to draw up a plan will be an enormous time saver.