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.
Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
Unless if you finished way ahead of schedule, don`t worry about major revisions like reorganizing the structure of the essay–it`s better to hand in an essay with an imperfect structure than a paper that`s impossible to follow because you had to stop halfway through the revision process.
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.
Decide on your thesis, the topic of each paragraph, and the arguments which you intend to cover, then jot down some quick point-form notes. This process won`t take long, and, once you complete it, all that`s left will be to expand those notes into a well-organized essay.
The most critical part of the essay-writing process actually happens before you write your first word. When you flip to the essay question, make sure you read it as carefully as you can, noting the difference between words such as `contrast` and `analyze` and highlighting any details which the professor specifically instructs you to include. It`s not uncommon for excellent essays to receive low marks because the student answered a question other than the one that was asked.