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10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
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- Each is made up of one or several paragraphs.
- The purpose of this section is to introduce the topic and why it matters, identify the specific focus of the paper, and indicate how the paper will be organized.
- To keep from being too broad or vague, try to incorporate a keyword from your title in the first sentence.
- For example, you might tell readers that the issue is part of an important debate or provide a statistic explaining how many people are affected.
- Defining your terms is particularly important if there are several possible meanings or interpretations of the term.
- Try to frame this as a statement of your focus. This is also known as a purpose statement, thesis argument, or hypothesis.
- The purpose of this section is to provide information and arguments that follow logically from the main point you identified in your introduction.
- Identify the main ideas that support and develop your paper’s main point.
- For longer essays, you may be required to use subheadings to label your sections.
- Point: Provide a topic sentence that identifies the topic of the paragraph.
- Proof: Give evidence or examples that develop and explain the topic (e.g., these may come from your sources).
- Significance: Conclude the paragraph with sentence that tells the reader how your paragraph supports the main point of your essay.
- The purpose of this section is to summarize the main points of the essay and identify the broader significance of the topic or issue.
- Remind the reader of the main point of your essay (without restating it word-for-word).
- Summarize the key ideas that supported your main point. (Note: No new information or evidence should be introduced in the conclusion.)
- Suggest next steps, future research, or recommendations.
- Answer the question “Why should readers care?” (implications, significance).
- Find out what style guide you are required to follow (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) and follow the guidelines to create a reference list (may be called a bibliography or works cited).
- Be sure to include citations in the text when you refer to sources within your essay.
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- Read assignment instructions carefully and refer to them throughout the writing process.
- e.g., describe, evaluate, analyze, explain, argue, trace, outline, synthesize, compare, contrast, critique.
- For longer essays, you may find it helpful to work on a section at a time, approaching each section as a “mini-essay.”
- Make sure every paragraph, example, and sentence directly supports your main point.
- Aim for 5-8 sentences or ¾ page.
- Visit your instructor or TA during office hours to talk about your approach to the assignment.
- Leave yourself time to revise your essay before submitting.
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5 Main Parts of an Essay: An Easy Guide to a Solid Structure
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You might think of essays as boring assignments for explaining the themes in Huckleberry Finn or breaking down the characters in The Great Gatsby , but the essay is one of the most timeless forms in all of literature. It’s a genre that includes deep readings of texts, personal essays, and journalistic reports. Before you get to any of that, you need to figure out the basic parts of the essay.
What Are the Parts of an Essay?
You can think of any essay as consisting of three parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. You might see some small variations, but for the most part, that is the structure of any essay.
Take the five-paragraph essay as a simple example. With that form, you get one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. That’s five paragraphs, but three parts.
What Are the Main Parts of an Essay Printable 2022
Like a good word burger: how to write the three parts of an essay.
A good essay is much like a good burger (or a sandwich, but we’re a burger society here). Your intro and conclusion are the buns sandwiching the patty, cheese, and other good toppings of the body paragraphs.
What Is an Introduction Paragraph?
“Hello! My name is Seymour. It’s nice to meet you.” That might seem like a simple, non-essay introduction, but it has all the basic components of what you want in an introduction paragraph . You start with the hook. Your hook is the first sentence of your entire essay, so you want to grab people’s attention (or hook them) immediately.
From there, you have sentences that lead the reader directly to the thesis sentence . Your thesis is possibly the most important part of your entire essay. It’s the entire raison d'être . It’s what you’re arguing or trying to accomplish with your essay as a whole.
Kaboom! That, the sound of the entire universe forming in an instant, giving rise to apples, toenails, and what we know today as the humble five-paragraph essay. Since that fortuitous moment, the five-paragraph essay has become the favorite assignment among English teachers, to the bemusement of students. Although many educators, professionals, and youths have valid criticisms about the form, the five-paragraph essay is an important component of developing writing skills and critical thought.
What Is a Body Paragraph?
The body paragraphs are the main part of your essay burger. Each body paragraph presents an idea that supports your thesis. This can include evidence from a literary source, details that build out your thesis, or explanations for your reasoning.
The first sentence of each body paragraph is known as the topic sentence . You can kind of think of it like a smaller part of your thesis sentence. It’s the main idea that you want to discuss in that specific body paragraph. The rest of the body paragraph is made up of supporting sentences, which support that topic sentence.
While many are critical of the five-paragraph essay’s rigid form, that rigidity is part of what makes it so advantageous. Every five-paragraph essay is an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph, and they will always have that structure. With such a stable form, a writer truly only needs to worry about the contents of the essay, putting all the focus on the actual writing and ideas, not the organization.
What Is a Concluding Paragraph?
A burger needs a solid, sturdy bottom bun. Otherwise, the burger would fall apart. The same holds for a conclusion. A good conclusion holds the essay together, while offering a unique finishing touch to the whole thing.
The conclusion is at once the easiest and hardest part of the essay. It’s easy in that it mostly involves restating your thesis and much of what you already discussed. The hard part is thinking outside of the essay and considering how your thesis applies to components of real life.
In conclusion, the five-paragraph essay is a useful and effective form for teaching students how to write and develop their critical thinking skills. It’s not without its setbacks, but it’s a simple form that can give way to other ways of writing. Longer research papers are essentially five-paragraph essays with more body paragraphs, while short fiction and creative writing require similar critical thought and writing acumen. Even if you don’t write, five-paragraph essays can teach you how to use your voice and express your ideas.
Explore Essay Examples
Understanding each part of an essay is essential to writing one, but seeing actual essay examples in the wild can take you from essay noob to essay expert. Look at specific types of essays, and see if you can pick out the different parts in each one — from thesis statements to hooks and concluding sentences.
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Academic Essay Structure
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- 1 Academic essay structure: Definition
- 3 Parts of an academic essay
- 4 Different academic essay types
- 5 Academic Essay Structure – In a Nutshell
Academic essay structure: Definition
Academic essay structure has a lot to do with the way you have presented your thoughts and logic in an academic essay. For instance, you want to ensure that you present one idea at a time, and then support them with facts to convince your readers. A good essay structure should also use an active voice and conclude with thoughts that are focused on summarizing the aforementioned ideas. Also, in the concluding paragraph, let your readers know your ground based on the subject.
To write a good academic essay, you need to come up with coherent ideas and use them to create a striking argument. Your academic essay structure should be one that lures the reader into following what you have to say closely. In this bit, we have shared valuable tips to help you learn and use the right academic essay structure in your next creative writings.
What is the basic academic essay structure?
The general structure of an academic essay contains three main parts. These include the introduction, body, and conclusion. Using this format, you can easily write and ensure that your academic essay is perfectly organized. With this basic academic essay structure in mind, you should stick to the topic to guide your ideas and their sequence.
Why is the academic essay structure important?
The basic academic essay structure is not only crucial to the writer but also to the readers. It helps them comprehend the logic and flow of your thoughts as a writer. The main intention of the academic essay should be clearly stated in the introduction . The readers should get detailed information about the topic in the body of the academic essay. Summarize everything and share your thoughts with your readers in the concluding paragraph.
What are the different types of academic essay structures?
There are four main types of academic essays , however the structures stay the same for the most part:
- Expository essay, descriptive essay and narrative essays
- Argumentative essay or persuasive essay
- Compare and contrast essays
- Analysis, or cause and effect essay structures
Each one of these academic essays will still have an introduction, followed by body paragraphs with a conclusion at the end.
How do you structure an academic essay at university level?
It is your plan that determines the structure of your academic essay. You should always create an essay outline before you begin writing. The outline also helps you to come up with elaborate arguments. At a minimum, your academic essay structure should include the three main parts, namely, introduction, body, and conclusion.
How many sentences should you have in each paragraph?
There is no specification for the number of sentences you should have in each of your paragraphs. For neatness and readability, make sure that each paragraph has a maximum of four sentences. You need to ensure that every paragraph is long enough to cover everything, but also short enough to be interesting.
Tip: Be sure to use transition words when writing your paragraphs to enhance the flow and readability of your academic essay.
Parts of an academic essay
As mentioned above, the essential parts of an academic essay include introduction, body, and conclusion. Now let us take a closer look at what is entailed in each part of an academic essay.
To give your academic essay a good introduction, you want to make it broad, but be careful not to go too broad. Also, this is the part in which you should share some background information related to the topic. However, you want to be careful not to start your argument just yet. Towards the end of your introduction, drop a thesis statement . Some writers also prefer throwing their thesis in the last sentence, but that relies greatly on your style of writing.
The body is the term used to refer to the paragraphs that come after the introduction but before the conclusion. A typical essay should feature multiple body paragraphs. However, the overall length of the body of your academic essay is determined by the number of ideas you have to share. The details you use to back up your thoughts also have an impact on the overall length of the body. Make sure that you present one idea after the other, and then support them with substantial facts to convince your readers.
Your conclusion might look a bit similar to the introductory paragraph. In this section, make sure to restate your thesis because your readers might have lost it somewhere while reading the body. Also, in the conclusion, you need to create a summary of the main points your academic essay touches. Do not forget to remind the readers of what you think about the entire subject in discussion.
Different academic essay types
There are different types of academic essays. While they could take different formats, the structure still remains the same. Your academic essay, despite its nature, must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Other details might come in, but they should not interfere with the recommended basic essay structure. Now, what are some of the main types of academic essays?
- Narrative essays : In this academic essay, the writers communicate to the readers while sharing a real-life experience. Though this might sound quite easy, the students are usually challenged to tell a story about themselves.
- Descriptive essays : This is more of painting a picture. It has a close relationship with the narrative essay. In this case, the writers are expected to use words to create clear, descriptive images.
- Expository essays : This is an informative piece that mainly presents a well-balanced analysis of a given topic. In this case, the writer is expected to use facts, examples, and statistics to define a topic.
- Persuasive essays : This is a tool that is used by writers to convince the readers to agree with their point of view. Facts and logic must be used strategically in this case.
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Academic Essay Structure – In a Nutshell
- As a writer, you are free to use unique styles to communicate with your readers. However, you still have to introduce them to what you are about to share.
- You will need to employ the right academic essay structure throughout your writing, and this is usually determined by the type of essay.
- With an academic essay structure, you will look and sound professional.
- Depending on the type of academic essay you are writing, you can add some details to help your readers follow through.
- The basic academic essay structure includes the introduction, body, and conclusion.
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Elements of an Essay
Definition of elements of an essay.
An essay is a piece of composition that discusses a thing, a person, a problem, or an issue in a way that the writer demonstrates his knowledge by offering a new perspective , a new opinion, a solution, or new suggestions or recommendations. An essay is not just a haphazard piece of writing. It is a well-organized composition comprising several elements that work to build an argument , describe a situation, narrate an event, or state a problem with a solution. There are several types of essays based on the purpose and the target audience . Structurally, as an essay is an organized composition, it has the following elements:
Nature of Elements of an Essay
An essay has three basic elements as given above. Each of these elements plays its respective role to persuade the audience, convince the readers, and convey the meanings an author intends to convey. For example, an introduction is intended to introduce the topic of the essay. First it hooks the readers through the ‘ hook ,’ which is an anecdote , a good quote, a verse , or an event relevant to the topic. It intends to attract the attention of readers.
Body paragraphs of an essay discuss the evidences and arguments introduced in the thesis statement . If a thesis statement has presented three evidences or arguments about the topic, there will be three body paragraphs. However, if there are more arguments or evidences, there could be more paragraphs.
Function of Elements of an Essay
Each element of an essay has a specific function. An introduction not only introduces the topic, but also gives background information, in addition to hooking the readers to read the whole essay. Its first sentence, which is also called a hook, literally hooks readers. When readers have gone through the introduction, it is supposed that they have full information about what they are going to read.
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Definition is a rhetorical style that uses various techniques to impress upon the reader the meaning of a term, idea, or concept. Definition may be used for an entire essay but is often used as a rhetorical style within an essay that may mix rhetorical styles. For example, you may need to use definition in order to fully explain a concept before you make an argument about that concept.
A definition essay is structured around the goal of defining a term, concept, or idea. While you may start off with a simple dictionary definition, your essay will, ultimately, contain an extended definition. There are many techniques you can use to extend a definition in a definition essay (to be discussed further).
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What Are the 5 Parts of an Essay?
When you first learn how to write an essay, you are usually taught how to write the five-paragraph essay. As you develop as a writer and move on to higher grades, you'll write longer and more complex essays that will have more than five paragraphs. Yet no matter how many paragraphs your essay includes, it still needs to perform the same function: present a compelling argument in favor of or against a certain position.
The first part of your essay will be the introduction and it should begin by telling the reader specifically what topic your essay is addressing. Near the end of your introduction should be your thesis statement, which is a clear and concise statement that presents your argument. The last sentence of the introduction should be a transitional sentence that relates to the first body paragraph of the essay.
First Body Paragraph
The second part of the essay should be the first body paragraph, and it should present the strongest point that proves your thesis statement. The first sentence in this paragraph should tie into the transitional sentence in the introduction. Subsequent sentences should describe specific examples that relate to the point you are arguing in the paragraph. Like the last sentence in the introduction, the last sentence in this paragraph should be transitional and lead into the argument you will present in the next body paragraph.
Second Body Paragraph
The third part of the five-paragraph essay should present the second most compelling argument in support of your thesis. The first sentence should tie into the transitional sentence in the first body paragraph and you should clearly state the argument you are presenting in this paragraph near the beginning of the paragraph. Use examples to support this argument in subsequent sentences and end the paragraph with a transitional sentence into your third and final body paragraph.
Third Body Paragraph
The final body paragraph is the fourth part of the five-paragraph essay, and this section should present your weakest argument in support of your thesis statement. Although this may be your weakest argument, do not suggest this in the essay or overcompensate by providing too many examples; structure it in the same way you did the previous two body paragraphs. End the third body paragraph with a concluding statement that makes it obvious to the reader that this is the final major point you will make.
The final part of the five-paragraph essay is the conclusion. This paragraph should restate the thesis statement, but the restatement must not be a duplicate of the thesis statement itself. The conclusion should also summarize the three major points you addressed in each body paragraph. The final sentence of the conclusion should be a clear signal that the essay has ended; it may also include an application to your argument or something that the reader can think about after he has finished reading the essay.
Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jordan Whitehouse has been writing on food and drink, small business, and community development since 2004. His work has appeared in a wide range of online and print publications across Canada, including Atlantic Business Magazine, The Grid and Halifax Magazine. Whitehouse studied English literature and psychology at Queen's University, and book and magazine publishing at Centennial College.
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Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.
The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.
Answering Questions: The Parts of an Essay
A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.
It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)
"What?" The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.
"How?" A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.
"Why?" Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.
Mapping an Essay
Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.
Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:
- State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
- Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then say why that's the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the "what" question. (Alternately, you may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
- Begin each of the following sentences like this: "The next thing my reader needs to know is . . ." Once again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you've mapped out your essay.
Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.
Signs of Trouble
A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").
Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
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Make Your Essay Structure Rock-Solid with These Tips
So you’ve been assigned an essay. Or, probably more realistically, two, three, or four essays . . . and they’re all due the same week.
We’ve all been there: overwhelmed, staring down that blank screen, and not sure which essay to start with or how to get it started.
In high school and college, it’s not enough to just write strong essays. One of the most important skills to develop is writing strong essays efficiently . And the foundation of that skill is knowing how to structure an essay. With a template for the basic essay structure in hand, you can focus on what really matters when you’re writing essays: your arguments and the evidence you’re using to support them. Take a look at the basic essay structure below and see how the parts of an essay work together to present a coherent, well-reasoned position, no matter what topic you’re writing about.
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Basic essay structure: the 3 main parts of an essay
Almost every single essay that’s ever been written follows the same basic structure:
This structure has stood the test of time for one simple reason: It works. It clearly presents the writer’s position, supports that position with relevant examples, and neatly ties their supporting arguments together in a way that makes their position evident.
It all starts here. This is where you introduce the topic you’re discussing in your essay and briefly summarize the points you’ll make in the paragraphs that follow.
This is also where you state your thesis. Your thesis is the most important part of your essay because it’s the point you’re making . It needs to take a clear stance and shouldn’t include hedging language that undermines that stance like “seems to” or “possibly could.”
Here are a few examples of thesis statements:
- In the final scene of The Awakening , Edna Pontellier’s decision demonstrates that it was impossible for her to have the lifestyle she truly wanted in the society in which she lived.
- Due to its volatility and lack of government regulation, Bitcoin cannot become a viable currency for everyday purchases.
- While the habitability of Mars has not yet been proven, evidence suggests that it was once possible due to bacteria samples found on the Red Planet.
An easy way to write your thesis statement is to think of it as a summary of your essay. Your thesis makes and supports your essay’s point in one concise sentence.
When you proofread your finished essay, make sure your thesis is clearly stated in your introduction paragraph. If it’s not clear, go back and write a definitive thesis statement.
>>Read More: How to Write a Persuasive Essay
Your essay’s body paragraphs are where you support your thesis statement with facts and evidence. Each body paragraph should focus on one supporting argument for your thesis by discussing related data, content, or events.
If you’re not sure whether you should include a specific point or detail in your body paragraphs, refer back to your thesis statement. If the detail supports your thesis, it should be in your essay. If it doesn’t, leave it out. Your thesis statement is the core of your basic essay structure, so everything else in the essay needs to relate to it in some way.
In your essay’s conclusion paragraph , you summarize the points you made and bring your argument to its logical conclusion. Because your reader is now familiar with your thesis, the summary in your conclusion paragraph can be more direct and conclusive than the one in your intro paragraph.
>>Read More: 7 Writing Tips from Professors to Help you Crush your First Essays
How many paragraphs are in an essay?
There’s no hard-and-fast requirement for college essays. In high school, you were probably taught to write five-paragraph essays. This is a solid essay structure to work with, but in college, you generally have more flexibility with assignment lengths and formats.
Now, consider five the minimum—not the standard—number of paragraphs you should include in your essays.
Essay structure examples
There are a few different ways to present information in an essay. Often, your assignment will tell you what kind of essay to write, such as a chronological, compare and contrast, or problems-methods-solution essay. If you’re not sure which is best for your assignment, ask your instructor.
A chronological essay guides the reader through a series of events. This essay structure is ideal if you’re writing about:
- A current or historical event
- A book or article you read for class
- A process or procedure
With this kind of essay, you first introduce your topic and summarize the series of events in your introduction paragraph. Then, each body paragraph takes the reader through a key stage in that series, which might be a decisive battle in history, a pivotal scene in a novel, or a critical stage in a judicial process. In your conclusion, you present the end result of the series you discussed, underscoring your thesis with this result.
Compare and contrast
A compare-and-contrast essay has a structure that discusses multiple subjects, like several novels, concepts, or essays you’ve been assigned to read.
There are a few different ways to structure a compare-and-contrast essay. The most obvious is to spend one paragraph discussing the similarities between the topics you’re covering (comparing), then one paragraph detailing their differences (contrasting), followed by a paragraph that explores whether they’re more alike or more different from each other.
Another method is to only compare, where each of your body paragraphs discusses a similarity between the topics at hand. Or you can go the only-contrast route, where your body paragraphs explore the differences. Whichever you decide on, make sure each paragraph is focused on one topic sentence . Every new comparison or contrast should occupy its own paragraph.
As its name implies, this kind of essay structure presents the writer’s position in three segments:
- Ways to resolve the problem
- The solution achieved by using these strategies to resolve the problem
This kind of essay works great if you’re discussing methods for resolving a problem, like knowing how to distinguish between credible and non-credible sources when you’re doing research for assignments. It can also work when you’re tasked with explaining why certain solutions haven’t worked to fix the problems they were created for.
With this kind of essay, begin by introducing the problem at hand. In the subsequent body paragraphs, cover possible methods for resolving the problem, discussing how each is suited to fixing the problem, and potential challenges that can arise with each. You can certainly state which you think is the best choice—that could even be your thesis statement. In your conclusion paragraph, summarize the problem again and the desired resolution, endorsing your method of choice (if you have one).
In this kind of essay, you can also include a call to action in your final paragraph. A call to action is a direct order for the reader to take a specific action, like “call your congressperson today and tell them to vote no” or “visit grammarly.com today to add Grammarly browser extension for free.”
>>Read More: How to Write Better Essays: 5 Concepts you Must Master
With the basic essay structure down, you can get to writing
For a lot of students, getting started is the hardest part of writing an essay. Knowing how to structure an essay can get you past this seemingly insurmountable first step because it gives you a clear skeleton upon which to flesh out your thoughts. With that step conquered, you’re on your way to crushing your assignment.
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Essays consisting of an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion are referred to as three-part essays. You may be used to this essay format from school.
In the introduction, the reader is introduced to the topic that will be discussed and to the argument that will be presented. After the introduction comes the main part of the text, where the analysis and discussion are carried out and results are presented. Depending on the length of the essay, this body section may or may not be divided into different sections. In the final part of the essay, the argument will be summed up and conclusions will be drawn from what has been discussed in the body.
Structure of the three-part essay
Each section of the text needs to be structured in a way that helps the reader understand the argument and the points that the writer wishes to make.
The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the reader with a clear idea of the focus and aim of the text. The topic of the essay/article is presented in the introduction, often accompanied by a thesis statement (the claim that the writer wishes to make). Depending on the type of essay, the introduction section also
- provides the context/background of the argument
- introduces the theoretical perspectives, terminology, etc. that will be used
- explains how the writing will be organised
All the information in the introduction must be relevant to the points that are subsequently made in the body of the text. The introduction is usually structured to start with a broad, or general, description of the topic and then gradually narrow down to the specific focus of the essay. Read more about the structure of introductions here:
After the introduction comes the main part of the text, which is often referred to as the body, where the analysis and discussion will be carried out and results are presented. What is brought up in this part of the text relates back to what was presented in the introduction. Depending on discipline, aim and context, there are various ways of structuring the body of the text. A basic strategy is to deal with one thing at a time and to order the different issues that are brought up in a logical sequence that makes the argument easy to follow.
Depending on the length of the essay, the body may or may not be divided into different sections. Note that there is never a heading called "Body" in essays; this word is only used when talking about the essay format to signal that it is the bulk of the essay text.
In the final part of the essay, the argument is summed up and conclusions are drawn from what has been discussed. Generally, a conclusion should not contain any new facts or ideas, but instead provides a brief restatement of the main arguments that have been presented in the essay.
The conclusion might refer back to the introduction and comment on the thesis statement or the research questions presented there. In some texts, it is appropriate to include a look forward, in the form of suggestions for further study, for instance.
You can watch this video for more information about the three-part essay structure:
Instructional video from the free online MOOC "Writing in English at University" which was developed at Lund University in 2016.
Further help on writing a three-part essay
For further information and advice about different parts of the essay, see:
- Structure of Introductions
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