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.
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?
Remember the paragraph-based schedule we discussed above? It`ll be useless if you don`t do regular check-ins during the exam. Keep an eye on the clock to ensure you`re always on track.
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.
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.
Come up with a thesis: The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.