1. Answer the question. Work out word-by-word what the question is asking you to do and answer the question set, not a different question or everything you know about a topic.
2. Make a plan. After you have read the literature around the topic and taken notes decide what to put in your essay and what to leave out and how you will construct you essay. The toughest thing about making a plan is deciding what to leave out.
3. Write an Introduction but keep it short. The introduction should restate the topic, outline the plan/structure of the essay and end with a statement of your conclusions. Edit the introduction last. Many essays begin with two or three sentences (or even a whole paragraph) that say nothing. It is a good idea to indicate to the marker that you are in control, have a structure and will guide them through the ensuing argument to a reasoned conclusion. That is why it is a good idea to re-edit your introduction last of all, so that it fits with the final version of the essay and anticipates its final structure and conclusions.
4. Use evidence (see below also for additional information) to support your statements and arguments and softening words. If you make any kind of statement in your essay that is not self-evident (few are) then you need to quote your source or supporting evidence. If, for example you say, “More people work in the service sector than ever before”, the marker will write, “how do you know…