Analyze the essay question or title you are given. Look for the instructions which are usually words like compare, contrast, discuss, define or summarize. Underline the key words that tell you what is expected in the essay. Look for phrases such as "the importance of" which tell you what aspect of the subject to focus on.
Brainstorm and write down what you already know about the subject. Include relevant facts and examples that support the argument or point of view which will be presented in the essay. The length of the essay will be determined by the number of facts and examples which will be included. Allow one paragraph for each main point.
Organize your first notes into a plan of what will go into the three sections needed in an essay: the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Most of the information should go in the body of the essay. If necessary, conduct further research for any other facts or statistics to back up your information.
Write the introduction, which begins with the thesis statement. This statement has two parts: the topic of the essay which states what you will be writing about, and the point of the essay which tells why you are writing it, or what argument you are making.
Write the essay body. Allow one paragraph for each main point and link paragraphs so that they follow each other in a logical, linear way. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence, then use the rest of the paragraph to back up or argue the topic sentence, with the help of evidence gained from your research.
Write the conclusion. Draw together the ideas and arguments put forth through the body of the essay, and refer back to key elements from the introduction to show how the essay has achieved what it set out to do.