The first thing to do is: relax . Clear your mind. Turn off the computer/TV/internet/cell phones/Xbox and whatever else may divert your attention. You need to have Zen-like calm to allow you to apply laser-like focus on the task at hand. No matter what else is going on in your life, set aside some time to come up with a plan to attack your essay challenge. Ideally, as applications come due the fall of senior year, you want to start working on this several months beforehand in order to draft several versions and incorporate any feedback. Set aside a few hours per week to brainstorm and draft your essay, as well as work on those revisions.