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Essay Writing How-To

Updated on November 18, 2018
Anne Carr profile image

Anne is a teacher and freelancer with a passion for writing. She has helped many young people develop strong writing skills.

How To Write An Essay

Picture it: you are sitting in class, and, all of a sudden, your teacher or professor starts passing out that assignment sheet. When you get the paper in front of you, you see those two words that haunt you at night when you can’t sleep; the words that make you cringe and think about staying up late to finish a paper at 3 A.M.: “Persuasive Essay”...

Sometimes it seems like a horror movie trying to write an essay. I hope to guide you in this process and help you figure out just how to write an essay. Use the following tips to help you get started.

Crafting a Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement includes all three elements: topic, opinion, and main points.
A strong thesis statement includes all three elements: topic, opinion, and main points.

"Typically, the thesis statement comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. This gives you time to discuss the topic of the essay clearly before going into the main arguments."

Thesis Statement

No good essay can begin without a good thesis statement. This is your main argument, claim, or reason for writing the essay in the first place. For example, if your essay was about school uniforms, the thesis statement might look a little something like this:

School uniforms should not be allowed in schools because they erase individual identity and they are too expensive for the school’s budget.

Within the body of this essay, they would explain in more detail those last two parts of the thesis. So, essentially, your thesis statement includes the following details:

TOPIC+OPINION+MAIN POINTS

In the sample thesis, school uniforms is the topic. The opinion is that school uniforms should not be allowed in schools. The two main points are that it erases individual identity and that it is too expensive for a school’s budget.

Typically, the thesis statement comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. This gives you time to discuss the topic of the essay clearly before going into the main arguments.


"Typically, the introduction paragraph to an essay follows the inverted pyramid format."

Introduction

Now that we have talked about thesis statements, let’s talk about the introduction of your essay. Typically, the introduction paragraph to an essay follows the inverted pyramid format. This means that all information in the paragraph will start in very general terms and then get super specific, ending with your thesis statement. Here is an example of a short introduction paragraph.

Imagine a world where everyone looks and dresses the same; a world where people are stripped of their individual identities.In this society, no person is any different than the other. This is the direction many schools are taking by implementing school uniforms into their dress codes. School uniforms should not be allowed in schools because they erase individual identity and they are too expensive for the school’s budget.

Here is a very basic introduction. In the beginning, the author started out by using an engaging hook to draw readers in to the topic. Then, they explain the topic and its relevance. Lastly, the thesis statement was placed at the end of the paragraph.

All introduction paragraphs should include three things:

A Hook: How you draw your reader in to the topic you will be discussing (there are many ways to do this, you can ask a question, tell a brief story that relates to your topic, or write a description of your topic)

Summary: A brief summary of the topic to be discussed

Thesis Statement: TOPIC+OPINION+MAIN POINTS


General to Specific

Introduction paragraphs typically follow the inverted pyramid format, going from general to specific information.
Introduction paragraphs typically follow the inverted pyramid format, going from general to specific information.

"Most people struggle more with the introduction and conclusion than anything else."

Body

After all is said and done, most people think that the body paragraphs are arguably the easiest to write. Most people struggle more with the introduction and conclusion than anything else. In your body paragraphs you should include the following:

Topic Sentence: A sentence that explains the argument you will be discussing

Examples/Evidence: Examples and evidence that you can use to back up your argument and your thesis statement

Summary/Transition: A final sentence that summarizes your ideas, while also transitioning into the next point.

Here is an example paragraph:

School uniforms erase an individual’s identity. When we ask students to all dress the same, we are taking away their basic rights as an individual. Students have the right to choose what they want to wear and to express themselves in any way they see fit. Not having school uniforms would ease the burden to schools and to students in the long run.

Here, we see an example that included a topic sentence, an explanation/example, and a sentence that would transition into their next point. It is important, here, too, that you think about being as specific as possible. For example, this sample paragraph could have been more specific. The teacher or professor might suggest to the student to find an example of a school that switched from uniforms to a simple dress code for students to use as evidence to back up their opinion.


Specific to General

Conclusion paragraphs begin with specific information and end with more general information to wrap up the final ideas of the essay.
Conclusion paragraphs begin with specific information and end with more general information to wrap up the final ideas of the essay.

Conclusion

Lastly, and most importantly, is the conclusion. Similar to the introduction, the purpose of the conclusion is to restate your thesis, summarize your main points, and wrap up the essay in a meaningful way. This is usually done in specific to general format.

To restate your thesis, think about how you can reword it. Here is an example:

Original:

School uniforms should not be allowed in schools because they erase individual identity and they are too expensive for the school’s budget.

New:

Erasing individual identity and expenses are two reasons why school uniforms should not be allowed in schools.

Wrap-up:

At the end of your conclusion, you need to wrap-up the essay in a meaningful way. Here are a couple of questions that could help you brainstorm how to end your essay.

-Why is this so important?

-How does it relate to or impact the global community?

-Why should we care?


Final Thoughts:

Writing essays can be hard and time consuming, especially when we don’t understand the format. Writing a strong thesis, intro, and conclusion paragraph will really help make the essay more detailed, clear, and concise. Ensure when you begin working on an essay that you are hitting all of the main ideas and points in your thesis. Also, make sure you have a memorable way to open and close your essay. With these tips for success, you are bound to create a well-written essay.


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