Start planning if you can. Although the situation described above sometimes occurs, it`s also very common for professors to give their students a fairly detailed idea of what an essay question will involve in advance of the test day.
Once you hand your exam to the professor, relax! It`s easy to work yourself up after an essay exam when you didn`t get the chance to read your work over or you feel like your arguments were weak.
Become familiar with the course content. If the professor hasn`t told you in advance what a timed essay prompt will be, it can be intimidating to think that you will have to write about a subject you`ve never seen before.
You should formulate your thesis statement—the central argument you`re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long.
Consider practicing writing under time pressure. You`ve probably written dozens of essays before–the only thing that sets a timed essay apart is that it`s timed. Students often struggle to complete the full essay within the time constraints, particularly if they have to write longhand when they`re accustomed to working on the computer.
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.