What is expected in an essay is a good question, well stated, that allows you to select and focus on two or three main issues of the topic. A good essay has an introduction that tells the reader what the question is and why it is important. The introduction will tell the reader how the author plans to approach the subject – by looking at — key factors and looking at — key documents — or examining the role of — key leaders etc. The introduction should tell the reader why this is a sound approach. You may also mention other issues, but explain to the reader why the issues you chose to examine in greater depth are the right ones.
The intro provides the aim of the essay– that you hope to identify the key strengths or flaws in a strategy or explain how this case can be applied to other cases etc. The essay ought to be geared for an educated reader, but not one who is a specialist in the subject you are writing. Essays are an exercise in communicating important analysis. Early in the essay you ought to provide some key background information as to the conflict/organization/ ideology etc. that you are writing about.
Then you move systematically to answer the 2-3 issues — subquestions– that are your focus. The key thing is that you provide some analysis of the key issues based on research. You need to provide solid analysis with hard facts when available– statistics, historical examples, reports, and hard data. Opinion is OK– but don’t overrely on authority. The essay ought to be well supported by citations. Footnotes with details are best.