To give your essay a clear structure, it is important to organize it into paragraphs. Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.
Do your research: Read primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You`ll use these as evidence for your points.
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.
Without a clear plan, you run the risk of realizing partway through that you`ve drifted off topic or written yourself into a corner, and fixing these mistakes will consume a ton of extra time.
However, it`s important to keep in mind that your professor understands the circumstances under which the essay was written. They`re fully aware of the time pressure you were dealing with, and they will judge your work far differently than they would judge a typical essay with a deadline set weeks after the assignment date.
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.