i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Essay Writing

Practising Proper Planning

We have all been there – sitting under stressful exam conditions and having to produce a piece of clear and concise writing. Sometimes, we panic and start writing immediately, only to get to the end and realise that it’s not as coherent as we would like. Maybe we didn’t even answer the question properly! By practising proper planning, the essay-writing process (and stress levels) becomes much more manageable.

Practise proper essay planning by mastering the following easy steps:

Study the essay question

  • Give yourself time to think carefully about the question and understand exactly what is being asked.
  • Pay attention to key words that give you clues about what is expected, such as ‘outline’, ‘discuss’, ‘evaluate’, ‘demonstrate’, or ‘describe’.

Break the question down into sub-questions and ask yourself:

  • How am I going to answer the question?
  • How will I divide my essay into sections?
  • What do I need to focus on first, second and third to accurately answer the question?

Brainstorm the subject area

  • Write down your thoughts on the question subject.
  • List particular words or relevant phrases that you want to include.

Decide on the main points to include

  • Structure your writing by including important points that provide an overall answer to the question.
  • Be careful not to make the outline too complicated – only main points.
  • Don’t write all the information you know on the topic – make sure your ideas are relevant to the question!

Pay attention to word count

  • Think about the proportions of your essay so you have time to explain all points equally and write a conclusion


Whether you’re writing an essay for an exam, for an end of term assessment or simply to flex your creative muscles in Love to Write classes, practising proper planning will help you think strategically about your point of view and how to efficiently and clearly share your ideas with the reader.