According to the The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue, a good essay is focused, organized, supported and packaged. Keywords should also be identified within the question around which the answer is constructed. The overall structure of the essay should be similar to that of a regular essay, with a brief introduction containing a summary of the answer, then supporting information and a conclusion.
In order to properly complete an essay, it is important to allocate time in which to construct an answer. This is particularly crucial when a question is part of a multi-question essay exam. Once the amount of time available to answer the question is determined, the question is read carefully several times. If there are multiple questions, all questions are read in order to determine the order in which to answer them. Keywords identify what the question is actually asking. There are six different types of questions indicated by keywords: supported thesis, cause and effect, compare and contrast, process analysis, definitions and analysis. Once the type of question is determined, an essay style answer is constructed using the proper type of supporting material. It is a good idea to make an outline for an answer, and jot down a few key phrases on a piece of scrap paper or in the exam margins prior to writing on the sheet that is turned in to be graded.