Do "Prompt Attack" strategy by determining what the topic and the command sentences are in the prompt. The sentence that is the questionis what you need to specifically answer in your thesis and then support in your essay. Pay attention to this question!
Use a prewriting or thesis seeking strategy and spend at least 15 minutes planning your essay. A list of pros and cons will help you discover your position on the issue. Once you know your position, ask why, or how, or what to help find reasons for your positon. Clustering/bubbling/mapping prewriting works well to map out and develop your reasons for your position.
Crafting a strong thesis: Hint at but do not specifically list your reasons. Make sure your thesis is more than one clause long. A thesis is the topic, plus your point of view on the topic, plus a hint of your reasons or a hint of the direction the essay will follow.
Revise & Proofread: allow at least 10 minutes to revise and proofread. Set the time in your mind at the beginning, so you will know when you must be finished.
Revise: Re-read your essay and check to see that you have the following: an analytical, grammatically correct thesis statement; a topic sentence for each paragraph; an adequate balance of claim and evidence in each paragraph; adequate paragraph development; concluding sentences to each paragraph; analysis in each paragraph (the answers to how & why).
Proof-reading: Re-read your essay and check for the grammar errors that you typically make. Check all subjects and verbs: do they agree, are the verbs in the correct tense, is each sentence indeed a complete sentence and not a run/on or a comma splice? Sometimes it is helpful to read your essay starting from the last sentence and continuing to the first sentence.