When working on a writing assignment, always make sure to answer the prompt directly. Students often read through the instructions once and then hurriedly get started on a first draft only to discover later that they've not really delivered what was asked for.
We usually practice close reading on passages in literature, when we're asked to pay detailed attention to a section and record insights about specific word choice, syntax, scansion, patterns, repetitions, contradictions, symbolism, etc. We're taking a microscope to the author's work and interpreting what they are seeking to convey.
When we transfer this practice over to a teacher's assignment instructions, we can capture exactly what they're asking for. Instead of writing our broad response to our general understanding, we can directly answer the question at hand.
This often requires highlighting, using a bolded/larger font, and/or copying key phrases and putting them in a list for easy reference as we work. Important information is often buried in a longer prose description of the assignment. It's your job to identify and isolate it. This piece of detective work makes your writing more exact. Plus, you save time and have more fun!
When you forget you're working until you realize you're done.