What Is an Essay?

As we get closer to the essay writing, let’s get familiar with the definition of an essay first. So what is an essay? It is a short composition based on a particular subject or theme, usually done by students as a part of their workload at school or university. Essays are extremely popular and are given as a task in every college and academic institution, as they are a great tool for developing various skills necessary in life, like: analytical thinking, research, creative skills, and so on.

In this article, we will look at writing tips that can help you score your essay an A. Let’s start from the beginning, to master writing an essay, you need to do the following:

  1. Choose an essay type and its format
  2. Brainstorm a topic
  3. Conduct research
  4. Develop a thesis statement
  5. Create an essay outline
  6. Write a draft and the essay itself
  7. Check spelling and grammar

Let’s see each step of mastering how to write a good essay in detail.

1. Choose an Essay Type and Format

In this step you need to define what type of paper you are writing. There are four main essay categories:

Most Popular Types of Essays:

Essay Format and Style Requirements

A basic essay consists of three main parts: an introduction, body, and conclusion. Flexibility is also important. The topic of your academic paper and specific assignment guide should guide your writing and organization.

As for commonly used essay format requirements, essays are pretty strict. While single-spaced papers are usually acceptable, it is typically better if your essay is double-spaced. You should delineate your paragraphs in a clear way. A single tab at the beginning of each paragraph is acceptable as well. The most popular fonts are Times, Arial, Calibri, and Cambria.

There are many different ways of citing sources from your research. The citation style you will be using sometimes depends on the academic subject that you study in your school or college. For example:

As for how long an essay is, average high school essay lengths vary from 300 to 1000 words, college admission essays are typically between 200-650 words, and undergraduate college essays can be around 1500-5000 words long. You should also always pay attention to the requirements of your professor—usually given along with your assignment.

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2. Brainstorm a Topic

It’s time to come up with the topic. When asking yourself “what should I write about?”, it may be useful to write down everything that comes to mind and narrow it down later. To facilitate the process, you may use clustering or mind mapping to brainstorm and come up with an essay idea. Brainstorming is very useful at this stage as it helps to develop your topic(s) more deeply. It also allows you to recognize connections between various facets of your topic.

When deciding on what to write about consider these things:

Typical mistakes when choosing an essay topic:

3. How to Start an Essay: Research

To write a good essay, you always need to do some research. Other than just going to the library or searching online, you can interview people who are experts in the subject. Get out there and talk to people, ask them to share their experiences, watch some interviews on YouTube and other platforms, and search social media. These are always good ways to start an essay.

4. Develop a Thesis

A thesis statement is one sentence that says what the essay is about. This basic premise can be used for writing your entire paper. It should be specific and based only on what you are going to discuss in your writing. You will then need to support it using some evidence.

Good thesis statement example:
The constitution provides everyone with rights; however, there are some limitations regarding this providence in the law.

By reading the thesis statement, you can understand what the rest of the paper will be about, and it should make you want to read the rest of what is written.

5. Outlining Your Essay

The paper’s outline is the skeleton of your paper. It is great for ensuring that your paper is logical, well organized, and flows properly. Outlines help you see the logical steps of development in your essay. Use it to list ideas, main arguments, and supporting sources. It’s crucial to outline your writing as it will guide your pen and keep you on track.

How to Make an Outline

Let’s find this out by viewing an outline example:

  • Introduction Paragraph:
    • Hook statement;
    • A preview of the subtopics you will discuss in the body;
    • A thesis statement.
  • Body Paragraphs:
    • Topic sentence — must state the first subtopic and be opened with a transition;
    • Claim — a piece of argument that will be defended;
    • Evidence — information to support the claim;
    • An explanation — describes how the evidence defends the claim;
    • Concluding sentence.
  • Concluding Paragraph:
    • Restatement of the thesis statement;
    • Rephrasing main subtopics;
    • Concluding statement.

Watch our video on basic essay structure and keep on reading!

Introduction

First impressions always count. The essay introduction is your chance to grasp the reader’s attention and convince them to read the rest of the paper. Every introduction must:

Example of a good attention grabber:
The point where my life changed was when I lost my elder brother in a drastic suicide almost fourteen years ago in his home.

Background information gives the reader context and allows them to understand the writer’s point of view fully. The thesis statement is the primary argument or focus of the essay

Body Paragraphs

This is the part of your assignment in which you need to explain and develop the main ideas of your topic. It comes after the introduction and before the conclusion. Almost always, this is the longest part of the paper. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence, then write down a supporting point for that idea, and end it by elaborating upon that idea (it can be a description, explanation, or example).

The structure of the body paragraphs should look like this:

Conclusion

This brings us to the final part – the essay’s conclusion. Here you summarize the paper, remind the reader of your thesis, and leave them with some final thoughts. Here’s what to include in your conclusion:

6. Writing the Essay

Now that you have the outline or the basic skeleton, you can create a whole, cohesive, and clear essay.

The First Rough Draft

The purpose of writing a rough draft is simple. No one can write an essay without mistakes on the first try. After you have written a rough draft, read it one more time and follow our advice:

You should try to support your thesis with information in your paragraphs. Each paragraph should include a topic sentence — the most important sentence in the paragraph that tells readers what the rest of the paragraph will be about. Also, try to make sure that everything flows together. Transition words can be very helpful here. They connect paragraphs and will prevent your paper from sounding disjointed.

Questions to Check by Yourself Before Submitting an Essay:

7. Checking Spelling and Grammar

After the paper is written, you need to reread what you’ve written and look for mistakes or typos. Do not forget to check for technical errors, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Also, make sure to include transitions between paragraphs, so your writing flows smoothly instead of just jumping from one idea to another.

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