I have written a lot of essays since junior high and I’ve been asked a few times to help others with theirs. This is where I am going to lay out my general essay writing strategy and outline to help you!
This is going to be for a typical 5 paragraph essay with a general persuasive goal, but it is definitely adaptable to other types of texts.

First off, this is just the form that I have learned. Most importantly, you need to be clear with what your teacher/professor expects in terms of technicalities and subject matter.
Questions to ask your teacher for clarification:
-What type of essay is this? (research, persuasive…/format)/What is the goal in writing this essay? (to inform, to convince…)
-What is the question asking? Sometimes you will be given a prompt. It may be a general idea or it could be asking something very specific.
-Who is the audience? Who is the intended reader? (Are you able to use personal point of view, personal experience, the general “you”?)

-Small Technicalities: citations, title page, format, spacing, font…
A common format is: a title page, a clear font like Times New Roman or Arial font size 11 or 12, double spaced for easy correction, one-sided, indented or space after paragraph…
Usually, these small things are not as important as the content itself and the teacher will let you know but you can ask to assure easy points as some teachers can be specific!

(there are many essay/essay writing examples online to refer to)
The actual writing process:
Quick tips:
-Do not worry about word count until you have finished your rough draft.
As odd as it seems, it is easier to add words than to remove something important.
-Just write. Whether that be sitting down and promising yourself one paragraph, just get it out on paper. Find that flow even if you need to start with a messy brainstorm. Write everything out. It is much easier once you have started.
-You do not need to write the essay in order. It clearly helps to write it in order but you may find it easier to start with the body paragraphs and then the intro and conclusion based on that.

Choose your main idea. ->main statement: Specifically, what is it that you want the reader to take from your essay? Are you trying to convince them of something, if so, what? That will be your main statement. It is what your whole essay is about/surrounding.

Make an outline. Once you have your main statement, you need to have supporting ideas.
These need to be large ideas that you can expand on in your paragraphs.
My outlines look like this: (modify for a longer essay) P= paragraph
Intro-main statement
P1-first supporting idea
P2-second supporting idea
P3-third supporting idea
Conclusion-summarize the supporting ideas, restate main statement

Then, I follow that outline but with the following depth:

Intro
First phrase-hook sentence: something to get the reader’s attention, a question, a shocking
statement… It will give your reader an idea of what your essay is about.
Content-Introduce your supporting ideas. Let your reader know what you’ll be talking about in
general.
Last phrase-based on your supporting ideas introduction, lead in to your last phrase, your main statement.

Body paragraph
This is where you will clearly state one supporting idea per paragraph. Along with your supporting idea (to the main statement), you will have approximately three sub-supporting ideas, like examples (to the supporting idea).
Main statement->supporting idea->sub-support (expand and support the supporting idea
Use introductory structures to begin your paragraphs. (to begin, in addition, in conclusion-ask your teacher to avoid over-used structures)
Make sure your paragraphs flow from one to another by having end phrases that link or hint to the next paragraph’s topic as best as possible.

Conclusion
This is where you summarize all of your supporting ideas and restate your main statement to remind your reader of the whole main point. It will be similar to your intro but with a feeling of finality.
Leave the reader with a lasting impression by having a solid last phrase. It could be your main statement, something to make the reader think, or something that extends from your essay topic, but never introduce new ideas in the conclusion! (or in any paragraph for that matter-stick to your supporting ideas without adding anything too stretched)

Example outline: persuasive text: owning a dog
Intro-hook idea: It’s said that dogs are man’s best friend…
Main statement: Owning a dog is beneficial.

P1-supporting idea: Dogs make good company.
Sub-supporting ideas: -Dogs are friendly. -They are loyal. -They obey and learn well.
Continue like this for the other body paragraphs, providing examples.

Conclusion- Bring back the supporting ideas… (and that is why/therefore general lead in)-> main statement again: It is advantageous to have a dog as a pet.

Small tips:
-search up definitions to see if the word you’re going to use is exactly what you want to say
-search up synonyms to avoid repetition and to add variety in your language (where appropriate as to the point mentioned above)

1 Hour Essays
Sounds scary, but sometimes you only get an hour to write an essay in an exam.
What I do in this case:
-read the prompt carefully to really understand what you need to write so that you don’t have to backtrack
-make a quick outline using the format from above. As long as you have your main statement and at least 3 supporting ideas, you should be good to go. In a rush, it may seem to you like your arguments/supporting ideas are weak, but it is better to have something written down and to show you are capable of structuring an essay.

-no rough draft- I tend to skip the rough draft due to time constraint and just erase as I go. Unfortunately, most essays need to be in pen, so having an erasable pen helps. If not, do not make a mess of your page and simply cross out where you made a mistake. (I know you may feel like it could end up being the whole page, but with only an hour, you have to settle for something written.)

This general way of writing essays usually helps but it really is up to what the teacher wants and what works best for you. I hope you found this helpful and somewhat clear. Let me know if you did and if you want to see me sharing more school related tips and tricks!
~M