Spend a couple of minutes analysing the question before writing your essay.
One of the most important things to do before planning or writing is to first analyse the essay question so that you know exactly what to write about. Even students who have a higher level of English often have trouble with this as they think they are wasting time and want to get straight into writing the essay. As a result, they often end up losing marks because they missed a key issue from the task.
The examiner needs to see that you have understood the question and that you are on topic. If you do not take the time to analyse the question you could end up writing a completely different essay, or your essay may not have a clear opinion even though the task question has asked for it.